Into Practice

Into Practice, a biweekly communication distributed 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.

See the most recent issues below, or filter at left through all published content.

Grappling with a global pandemic in class, as a class


Jonathan Zittrain, George Bemis Professor of International LawJonathan Zittrain, George Bemis Professor of International Law, adapted his digital governance course to incorporate what everyone was really focused on in mid-spring of 2020: the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of “compartmentalizing” between class and crisis, he reworked the syllabus to respond to students’ needs and evolving experiences. Zittrain replaced the final exam with collaborative reports in which students examined aspects of the pandemic through the lens of digital governance dilemmas. “The idea was to offer students an opportunity to apply what they learned in the course to problems that were on everybody’s mind.” 

The benefits: An anonymous student interest poll showed that every student in the class wanted to shift to studying COVID-19 in groups. Students brought energy and enthusiasm to their work together, ultimately creating substantial reports examining issues like misinformation and digital contact tracing.... Read more about Grappling with a global pandemic in class, as a class

Keeping students engaged and learning through the “human hook”


Maya JasanoffMaya Jasanoff, X. D. and Nancy Yang Professor of Arts and Sciences and Coolidge Professor of History, uses narratives to engage students and deepen their understanding of course content. From her Gen Ed course Ancestry to her upper-level seminar Narrative History: Art and Argument, Jasanoff demonstrates that “stories do not necessarily mean fiction; rather, stories are simply arguments based on the evidence. The former cannot exist without the latter.”

The benefits: Using storytelling in the classroom can enhance both understanding and enthusiasm with the material itself. Humanizing the material helps to engage students in class discussion, allows them to better link concepts in real-time, and strengthens the connections they make after class.... Read more about Keeping students engaged and learning through the “human hook”

Applying Pedagogical Insights to Large Online Courses


William FisherWhen William Fisher, WilmerHale Professor of Intellectual Property Law, was approached to create an online course version of his Harvard Law School Copyright course, he agreed with the stipulation that CopyrightX be paired with the residential version, that enrollment be limited to 500, and that students meet in discussion sections of 25. Both online and residential students watch the same 90-minute lecture video prior to class time. When the class meets, Fisher facilitates case study discussions with residential students and 15-20 teaching fellows do so for sections of online students.... Read more about Applying Pedagogical Insights to Large Online Courses

Understanding pathophysiology with real-life vignettes

This issue of Into Practice is adapted from Instructional Moves content produced by the Teaching and Learning Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Barbara Cockrill, Harold Amos Academy Associate Professor of MedicineBarbara Cockrill, Harold Amos Academy Associate Professor of Medicine, uses case-based collaborative learning (CBCL) in her Homeostasis I course to help medical students explore real-life clinical scenarios they may face as practitioners. Case discussions start in cohorts of four students, formed at the beginning of the course, and focus on a series of questions. Discussion continues with the full class of 40 students, facilitated by Cockrill and other medical school faculty.

The benefits: Students say that having a concrete vignette to refer back to later in their training helps their learning “stick.”... Read more about Understanding pathophysiology with real-life vignettes

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