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Reimagining professional development to help educators collaborate, create, and innovate in the classroom.

transformED offers radically relevant professional learning experiences that emphasize hands-on practice with new ideas, skills, and tools, together with a technology lending library, grant funding, and peer support. transformED professional development workshops are learner-centered, inquiry-driven, project-based, hands-on, and collaborative—just like it should be in the classroom.



HundrED has selected this innovation to

Pittsburgh, USA

Web presence






Target group
March 2019
transformED is a community of thoughtful practitioners striving everyday to hone their craft and create engaging opportunities for their students to learn and grow.

About the innovation

How can professional development help educators stay ahead of the curve?

Advances in technology and the science of learning mean that every teacher, no matter how long they’ve been in the classroom, has the opportunity to reimagine how learning works for their students.

The challenge is that there are so many priorities competing for teachers’ time and attention, it’s impossible to expect them to stay at the forefront of research and development.

The good news is that many educators are already reimagining what learning can be, rethinking their approach to teaching, and redesigning their classroom environments to meet the needs of today’s students and better prepare them for a future that’s already here.

How can professional development help educators stay ahead of the curve?

transformED is an initiative of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit that connects educators with the professional learning, technology access, peer networks, and grant funding they need to start, scale, and sustain transformational change.

transformED offers more than 100 free workshops each school year, open to all educators, including formal K–12 teachers and administrators, out-of-school educators, librarians, and teaching artists. transformED offers teachers professional development opportunities that are learner-centered, inquiry-driven, project-based, hands-on, and collaborative—just like learning should be in the classroom.

As an innovation lab for educators, transformED translates the latest developments and emerging trends in teaching, learning, and technology into practical and supported resources educators can use to make a difference for their students.

Testing and Piloting Emerging Technologies:

As technology evolves rapidly, so do educators' desire to leverage it to enhance classroom instruction. transformED creates opportunities for educators to experiment with such technologies alongside industry and higher education partners to strategize around instructional integration while discussing candidly current limitations and obstacles.

In 2016-2017, for instance, a series of workshops brought together visionary educators with partners that included Schell Games, Carnegie Mellon University'sEntertainment Technology Center, and IRL Labs to experiment with newly released immersive virtual and augmented reality hardware.

One such workshopconvened educators at Pittsburgh's historic Allegheny Cemetery to leverage augmented reality software to design and construct AR historical cemetery tours. By days end, participants could point their phones at a headstone, revealing an assortment of supplemental biographical text, pictures, and videos. Teachers subsequently utilized newly acquired skills to support students in creating their own AR tours in their communities.

National Partnerships:

  • School Retool: School Retool, created by Stanford's and IDEO, is a professional development fellowship that helps school leaders redesign school culture using small, scrappy experiments called “hacks.” Hacks may start small, but they're built on research-based practices that lead to Deeper Learning. transformED is proud to have hosted 3 cohorts of School Retool, supporting principals, curriculum directors, special education directors and superintendents from Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia in rethinking school culture..

  • is a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools and increasing participation by women and underrepresented minorities. Their vision is that every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science, just like biology, chemistry or algebra. In 2018-2019, 65 secondary teachers from across Western Pennsylvania participated in the Professional Learning Program at transformED, offering new computer science opportunities in their districts.

Regional Partnerships:

transformED works closely with many regional organizations to reimagine professional development. Partners we are proud to work with include: Artist Image Resources, BirdBrain Technologies, Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, CMU Entertainment Technology Center, CMU School of Computer Science, Common Sense Education, CSTA Pittsburgh, EVERFI, Ioby, Montour School District, Remake Learning, Saturday Light Brigade, and Schell Games.


In the last 2.5 school years, transformED has hosted nearly 250 workshops attended by over 2,400 educators from 139 public and charter school districts, representing 28 Pennsylvania counties and 3 states. Between 2016-2019, over a third of participants attending transformED programming, on average, worked in a high-poverty school district, as defined by the National Center for Education Statistics (75.1%+ students eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch).

transformED advocates for the equitable diffusion of learning innovation, which is made possible through the generous support of The Grable Foundation, The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, and The Hillman Foundation.

Impact & scalability

Implementation steps

Identify and Repurpose a Designated Space

Once a space has been identified, think critically about how design principals can support collaboration and creativity, while creating an atmosphere where workshop participants will feel safe and supported to take risks.

Some of our go-to resources include:

Engage Stakeholders

Connect with regional stakeholders invested in educational opportunities and learning innovations to discover shared goals and interests. Stakeholders might include:

  • school districts

  • education service agencies

  • out-of-school time providers

  • institutions of higher education

  • workforce development organizations

  • libraries

  • museums

  • non-profits

Acquire Technology and Supplies

Technology lies at the heart of transformED workshops, be that computers, 3D printers, or simply hand tools. Think creatively about technology, as it might be high-tech or low-tech and can costs as little as a few bucks.

Some of our most frequently used technologies include:

  • Exacto knives

  • Hot glue

  • Hummingbird Robotics Kits

  • Makey Makey

  • Micro:bit

  • 3D printers

  • LEDs

  • Copper tape

  • iPads

  • Computers

  • VR headsets

On a limited budget? Consider asking new partners to borrow emerging technologies that they too are expirmenting with or to donate old and unused technology.

Design Programming and Advertise to Educators

Design diverse programming that will appeal to beginners as well as innovators. Create a calendar that is easy to navigate and share widely with educators. As many teachers need at least one month to gain approval to attend external professional development, make sure you advertise well in advance.

Create Shared Norms

Shared norms help create an environment that is safe and supportive for risk-taking.

We value the norms used by School Retool:

  1. Be present: Be fully present and engage in the work, both at workshops, and back at school.

  2. Step up…step back: Be willing to share your perspective and create space for others who tend to go unheard.

  3. Listen as a learner and stay curious about each other: Recognize that we need each other’s help to become better listeners and learners.

  4. Acknowledge one another as equals: Assume that everyone is coming from a place of wanting the best for their students, and seek to understand from there.

  5. Embrace ambiguity and messiness: Recognize that the work of creating greater equity in our schools is urgent and complex.

  6. Pause in moments of discomfort: We slow down so we have time to notice and reflect on our thoughts and emotions in moments of discomfort.

Support Reflection on Technology Integration

Encourage participants to step outside of their comfort zones, but ground exploration in research on pedagogy and technology integration.

Frameworks that we find of particular value include:

Document and Share Learnings

Educators are masters of their craft and when provided opportunities to collectively explore a emerging technology, creative insights emerge around how to thoughtfully integrate technology into their specific content areas.

As few resources and little research might exist around application of an emerging technology in K-12 classrooms, document the learnings of your sessions and share them widely for others to learn from your exploration.Leverage blogs, email newsletters, online publications, and conferences to engage others in what your community has discovered through experimenting with emerging technology.

Additionally share your learnings with external partners, as it might help them design better products and services for educators. An example of a symbiotic partnership between transformED and Schell Games sharing learnings can be foundhere.

Spread of the innovation

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