Into Practice, a biweekly communication distributed from the Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning to active instructors during the academic year was inspired by a successful 2012 HILT grant project. The e-letter highlights the pedagogical practices of individual faculty members from across Schools and delivers timely, evidence-based teaching advice, contributing to and strengthening a University-wide community of practice around teaching.

Below is a catalog of all the Into Practice issues sorted by the publication date. To subscribe to Into Practice, please sign-up via our Mailing List page.

  • Empowering students to make key decisions

    Dr. Phuong Pham, Assistant Professor and Director of Humanitarian Studies, teaches the required course for HSPH Humanitarian Studies Concentrators, Field Methods in Humanitarian Crises, and oversees a set of ongoing online modules titled, “Build a Better Response.” Dr. Pham stresses the need to ground studies within reality through experiential learning. She and others have created a library of case studies for students to practice analyzing complex scenarios. In addition, they collaborate with an expansive network of people each year to pull off a remarkable feat: a weekend-long humanitarian response simulation at Harold Parker State Forest where the students navigate an assigned role within a real-life humanitarian crisis simulation. “We try to provide students the opportunity to engage with a scripted real-life scenario. It gives them a tangible way to interact with simulated situations other than reading a text and listening to secondhand stories.”
  • Teaching students how to build better teams

    Scott Westfahl, Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School, intentionally develops students’ team-based collaboration skills in his law school courses on leadership fundamentals and innovation. Throughout the semester, student groups learn, reflect, and act on what makes a great team in real-time. Westfahl begins with a focus on the academic frameworks for successful teams. Then a series of scaffolded activities and assignments allow students to collaboratively reflect on what they want as a team, consider over time what is working and what isn’t, and work on projects throughout the semester. At the end of his innovation course, Westfahl surprises his students with a “graduation,” where he reads aloud paraphrased reflections from students on each of their group members' contributions.
  • The Spark of Learning – Energizing and Motivating Students in Uncertain Times

    Dr. Sarah Rose Cavanagh will bring to bear empirical evidence from the study of education, psychology, and neuroscience to argue that if you want to capture students’ attention, enhance their motivation, harness their working memory, bolster their long-term retention, and encourage habits related to good mental health, you should consider the emotional impact of your teaching style and course design. In this 75-minute session, participants will be invited to engage with practical examples of activities and assignments that are rooted in this research and to think about implications of these research-based insights for their own practice.
  • Learner-centered Pedagogy for Skill-building

    Christina Warinner, Associate Professor of Anthropology, empowers students to explore real-world, thorny topics in science that also have widespread social implications through course work and guest speakers. She brings her own experience as an interdisciplinary researcher to the classroom and directly supports students as they delve into more complex material and learn how to navigate the hidden curriculum (norms of the discipline). Her students practice grappling with interdisciplinary dilemmas in realistic ways. “I want each assignment a student does to be both knowledge-building and skill-building,” she explains. Her courses attract students from both the humanities and sciences, creating a more intellectually diverse learning environment.
  • “Ethical Reasoning for Computer Scientists” with Jeff Behrends, James Mickens, and Trystan Goetze

    In a follow-on to HILT's 2021 Conference, we will learn how Embedded EthiCS meets the challenge of making ethical reasoning integral to computer science education. We'll explore how embedding philosophers directly into computer science courses helps students learn how to think through the ethical and social implications of their work. And we'll take a deeper dive into the nuts and bolts of the collaborative Teaching Lab.
  • State of Learning Design: An Informal Event to Talk About Where Our Work Is Right Now

    We have experienced so many changes to our work that now that we transition into another academic year, we thought it would be a good time to check in on our community to hear how you are doing, what you are experiencing in your virtual or in-person work and what challenges you anticipate having as well as what lessons you have learned. We want to come together to learn that we are not alone in all these challenges and wins together.
  • Interdisciplinary learning through accessible, intentional technology

    Hong Qu, Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, taught Data Visualization virtually last spring to over 70 students from different Harvard Schools, levels of experience, and corners of the world. To foster a close-knit community among students from diverse backgrounds, Qu intentionally curated a set of online tools and learning exercises to generate an “ambient telepresence.” For instance, he assigned group data visualization projects to promote peer learning and used VoiceThread for assigned peer critiques. During synchronous class time, students were invited to sketch with Qu using Jamboard on the shared screen—a novel form of participation to draw out the inner artist/designer in every student. “I wanted to give them a sense that we’re spending time with each other in this very challenging period to learn as a community, to work together on group projects, and to achieve organic connections and authentic relationships between all our unique places during this pandemic.”
  • Virtual Tours of Houghton Library and Countway Library Renovations

    Last year while many of us were working remotely, Houghton and Countway libraries were getting a makeover. Kristine Greive from Houghton Library will lead us on a virtual tour of Houghton’s renovation highlighting the ways that students engage with their unique collections post renovation. Luciana Witowski from Countway will show how she and her team used high-resolution 3D scans of building interiors, created by the Harvard Visualization Lab, to design their virtual tour which includes their new Anatomage Lab.
  • “Connecting Scholarship with Action” with Paul Farmer and Arthur Kleinman

    Professors Paul Farmer and Arthur Kleinman share a passion for teaching students how to tackle real-world problems. In this follow-on event to HILT's 2021 annual conference, the professors will discuss their respective pedagogical approaches. Farmer will offer insights about how teaching and learning have responded to an international public health crisis and Kleinman will address how to use the practice of care to fight cynicism when it comes to addressing big problems.
  • Team-based learning in a foundational course

    Carrie Conaway, Senior Lecturer, and James Kim, Professor of Education, teach the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s new foundational course, Evidence. The course trains students to understand and apply a variety of evidence to a real-life problem of practice. In order to learn about different types of evidence and how to apply it to solve real-world problems, students work in small teams using team-based learning (TBL). Conaway and Kim use survey data to construct teams that are diverse in terms of background, program, and comfort with different types of evidence. Each group activity is centered around a different component of a case developed from Kim’s research. The activities culminate in final recommendations for how to improve literacy outcomes for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina.
  • Using Microsoft’s PowerApps to quickly create formative assessment tools (and other fun stuff)

    Formative assessment tools can greatly enhance the learning experience of our students. However, standard surveying tools seldom have the flexibility we need to capture and mirror back responses in just the right way. With PowerApps, we can quickly build flexible applications while also leveraging Microsoft’s security benefits. Speaker: Felipe Estrada-Prada, Sr. Learning Technologist, HGSE.
  • Teaching system-level thinking with an interdisciplinary lens

    Fawwaz Habbal, Executive Dean for Education and Research and Senior Lecturer on Applied Physics, and Doris Sommer, Ira Jewell Williams, Jr. Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of African and African American Studies, co-teach systems-level thinking. Their course, Aesthetic Pleasure and Smart Design: Janus Faces the Future, trains students to look at complex problems from the perspective of both artists and engineers. This requires the development of skills in scientific assessment and disinterested aesthetic judgment. In the spirit of Renaissance Now, an international movement to promote sustainable development, Habbal and Sommer model the combination of boldness and humility. Students in ES 27 read and reflect on material which ranges from aesthetic philosophy and history to triggers for scientific revolution. Then they tackle a complex problem through a proposal that will gain aesthetic acceptance and be scientifically effective.
  • Building virtual community in a foundational class

    Much like all our faculty across the University, Dr. Tamara Kaplan, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, shifted the pre-clinical neuroscience course, Mind, Brain, and Behavior, to a remote learning space this past year. In addition to considering curricular materials, Dr. Kaplan and her team agreed that it was especially important to think about the learning environment and students’ social connection with the material, the teaching faculty, and other students. As a result, they developed several systems to foster this social sense of community and “combat the sense of isolation and disconnectedness that can result from online learning” in her class. All course instructors recorded three-minute introductory videos about both their career/research and personal interests. Dr. Kaplan used Canvas to send students daily announcements with learning objectives, key points that came up that day in class, and friendly support. A balance of synchronous and asynchronous communication was used to minimize student burnout and make sure students stayed engaged. Finally, the team built in time for genuine connection with daily half-hour breaks between classes for students to get to know faculty and ask questions. Dr. Kaplan notes, “we realized that creating relationships with faculty is a huge driver of a positive learning environment.”
  • VPAL’s Canvas Dashboards – Lessons Learned

    Zac Wang, HILT’s Senior Manager for Resources Adoption and Impact in VPAL, will discuss Canvas Dashboards-Lessons Learned, and later we will try to identify some of our community needs for Zac to bring back to VPAL.
  • 2021 HILT Conference

    The 2021 annual HILT Conference will explore how we teach students to become global agents of change. Our plenary session will consider how our collective experiences in remote teaching and learning allowed us to rethink our models of instruction, community building, and curriculum. Breakout sessions will explore the various ways instructors can equip students to confront ongoing world-wide challenges through active learning, collaborative groups, and engaged scholarship.
  • Designing and Teaching a Hybrid Course

    The hybrid classroom took teaching and learning world by storm as colleges and universities grappled with balancing online teaching, in-person learning, and public health considerations. With the hybrid model at the forefront of many schools' plans for return to campus in the upcoming academic year, one question looms large: how do we design and teach our courses for a hybrid classroom? How do we teach so that in-person, online, and asynchronous students all feel engaged? What lessons can we take away from this model as we return to fully on-campus teaching? In this HILT Learning Design Affinity Group Lunch & Learn event, faculty and learning designers who have worked or taught in the hybrid model space at Harvard Extension School and Harvard Kennedy School will share their best practices and takeaways.
  • Canvas APIs, LTIs, Data and more!

    We are excited to welcome Gabe Abrams, Senior Software Engineer at DCE who will discuss Canvas APIs, LTIs, Data and more! Following his 20 minute presentation, we will have 10 minutes for Q&A, 10 minutes for networking in breakout rooms, followed by a wrap-up and any announcements.
  • Learning Analytics Reboot

    Please join us on May 19th, 12-1 PM EDT for ‘Learning Analytics Reboot’. This will be a chance to hear what others are doing (or wondering about) with respect to learning analytics at Harvard, and of course networking! In preparation for this meeting we encourage you to read the latest EDUCAUSE 2021 Teaching and Learning Horizons Report.
  • Demonstrating that everyone’s voice is valued

    Dr. Monik Jimenez, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, uses different pedagogical approaches to elevate diverse voices and styles of learning. In her Mass Incarceration & Health in the US course, she balances speaking time between a traditional scholar and an impacted community member, and emphasizes to the latter (and to students) that they are an expert. Dr. Jimenez also provides a variety of ways for students to participate and ask questions that include different cultural and neurodivergent learning styles. “It’s important to think about decolonizing the classroom in a layered way,” she reflects. “What are the multiple ways in which systems of power and white supremacy have impacted what we consider to be an ‘optimal’ student through the metrics we’ve been taught?”
  • Centering student need in gateway courses to the field

    Dr. Carmen Messerlian, Assistant Professor of Environmental Reproductive, Perinatal, and Pediatric Epidemiology, remodeled the department’s gateway Reproductive and Perinatal Epidemiology I course after her first year teaching it. Drawing on key observations and 6-8 hours of one-on-one student meetings per week, “I wanted to understand students’ learning needs and requirements, their goals for the course, and where their training was going to take them.” From there, she synthesized both her own experience in the field and quantitative student review data to radically revise the course’s structure. Now the course helps students develop their scientific research skills, explicitly scaffolding how to perform activities that students rarely get formal training in, like academic journal peer reviews, abstract writing, and poster presentations. At its core, the course trains students “how to become a reproductive epidemiologist,” and to learn how to put on “an epidemiological lens” when they produce, digest, or evaluate material in the field.
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