About Pittsburgh City of Learning:

Pittsburgh City of Learning aims at turning the city into a campus so students can learn anywhere, anytime. This concept stemmed from the belief that no one institution could fully prepare youth for the future. It's a community effort that incorporates many of the city's resources to provide a space where youth can explore their interests and talents. Over 40 organizations have come together to achieve this vision. Such organizations include Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Public Schools Summer Dreamers Academy, the Pittsburgh Learn and Earn Summer Youth Employment Program, and dozens of others.

Pittsburgh City of Learning is part of the national Cities of Learning campaign that grew out of the Chicago Summer of Learning program in 2013, when over 100 youth-serving organizations joined together to make their programs more visible to young people and their parents.

In 2015, Pittsburgh joins Chicago, Dallas, and Washington, D.C. as a City of Learning. Learn more about the national campaign at citiesoflearning.org.


Tim Cook The Sprout Fund

timothyfcook@gmail.com pghcityoflearning.org

The City of Learning platform uses Open badges to document learning wherever it happens. This is not an attempt to control more of a student's life, but less. In a way, it is an act of faith believing that, given a certain freedom, students will seek out that which interests them. City of Learning hopes to integrate the great resources of our schools with the opportunities in the world beyond: apprenticeships, web videos, service work, mentors, digital challenges, workshops, meetups, games, etc. Through this, we can enable learners to pursue learning driven by their interests, not the limitations of their home base.


Pittsburgh City of Learning is based upon the belief that no one institution can prepare our young people for their futures. It takes all of the city's resources, its citizens, its community-based organizations, its schools, its places of worships, its agencies, and its cultural institutions coming together and supporting young people of all ages in exploring their interests, developing their talents, and charting their pathways into the future. More than 40 organizations have come together to offer many free and affordable learning opportunities to young people throughout our city, including the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Public Schools Summer Dreamers Academy, the Pittsburgh Learn and Earn Summer Youth Employment Program, and dozens of others.

Learning Recognized:

To capture knowledge, skills, and dispositions within student's learning experiences, in 2015, we developed sets of competencies that will serve as the foundation for dozens of community partners joining Pittsburgh City of Learning as they create individual knowledge, skill, and disposition badges for their unique programs. Next, we seek to construct a network map of shared competencies in innovative learning programs, digital badges that are used to recognize learning and achievement, and in-person and online experiences that cultivate these competencies in young people in the greater Pittsburgh region. By broadly sharing both the final competencies as well as the process undertaken by educators to yield them, it is hoped that other communities implementing local badge systems will benefit from Pittsburgh’s prior work and pursue their own community conversations informed by this experience.


Multimedia evidence and URLs.


All kinds. Everything from tests, to peer assessment, to self-reflections, etc.


Recent notes from our partners included:
  • Tricky to badge programs in collaboration with multiple providers hard to get and maintain the interest of students in the program
  • No internet access at certain sites (especially public schools)
  • A lot of the hands-on staff were unable to attend trainings (need resources that can be passed down to new hires for quick adoption) time crunch;
  • Having to design badges alone without anyone to discuss with hard to convince kids about the importance of badges
  • Kids are worried this is adding “stress and anxiety” by schoolifying the summer time
  • Capturing evidence and putting it into the platform is way too time consuming

Next Steps:

We are working with the national Cities of Learning organization to develop an improved technology to support the work and then hope to grow our local efforts in 2016.