HILT Conference 2014: Engagement and Distance

The HILT Annual Conference was held on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 in Wasserstein Hall. Thank you to those of you who joined us, both on campus and remotely!

Theme and motivating questions

The conference is designed around a motivating question, one that builds on the thematic questions from the two previous conferences:

2012: How can we catalyze and sustain evidence-based educational innovation?
2013: What are the essentials of good teaching and learning?
2014: How does distance affect student engagement?

Why this theme? There was a clear answer when we polled attendees about the question posed last year: the most essential aspect of good teaching and learning is student engagement. Many of the efforts underway within HarvardX, HILT, and at each Harvard school represent ways to try to understand what will keep students engaged enough to learn deeply. Engagement (and disengagement) can manifest in terms of attention, emotion, behavior (or lack of those). Our conference planning working group began to articulate a broad question: How does distance, all facets of distance – intellectual, spatial, temporal, psychological – influence student engagement?

We hope this motivating question will engender substantive discussion about the relationship between residential, online, and hybrid forms of teaching and learning (and the various groups on campus dedicated to those) and how to meet the challenges implicit in those relationships.

Conference materials: