Jal David Mehta, Associate Professor of Education, directs students to use design thinking and interact with real-world stakeholders when making proposals to improve educational systems in his course Deeper Learning for All: Designing a 21st-Century School System. At the end of the semester, students present final projects to panels of educational experts ranging from superintendents to K-12 teachers to Harvard Graduate School of Education faculty.
Student perceptions of online activities in a blended graduate seminar revealed the most effective to have four distinct design features: they promoted higher-order thinking skills and learner-learner interactions and provided personalized content and feedback on contributions.
Emily Dolan, Gardner Cowles Associate Professor of the Humanities, co-teaches the graduate seminar Instruments and Instrumentalitieswith Professor and James McGill Chair in Culture and Technology Jonathan Sterneof McGill University in which students from both Harvard and McGill (representing a range of disciplines) engage with one another via audio and videoconferencing, trips to each campus, online documents, and other tools.
This article supplies more examples of learning-community classrooms with discussions around the framework of learning communities (e.g., goals, learning activities, teacher roles, and power relationships).
Canvas appointment groups allow students to sign up for meetings with teaching staff, either individually or in groups, providing a seamless experience from the course content to the student's schedule.
Michael I. Norton, Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration, uses experiential exercises to help students build strong foundations for collaborative work. In the FIELD Foundationscourse, students practice and refine their self-awareness, social awareness, and team effectiveness through activities such as identity mapping and the marshmallow challenge.
Mark Mulligan, Associate Professor in Practice of Architecture, requires students in Tectonics Lab to work collaboratively on design-build projects of increasing complexity over the course of the semester that are subject to critique by peers, guest experts, and Mulligan himself. For example, with an assignment such as construction of a simple joint between two pieces of wood, “I tell them that we’re actually going to test the joint to its breaking point, so they know that they have to build something that can withstand real force;and to make it fun, I get everyone to predict where it is going to break”—a metaphor for gaining practice with receiving constructive criticism.
Cassandra G. Extavour, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and of Molecular and Cellular Biology, is one of six co-instructors for LIFESCI 50(A & B) Integrated Science, an intensive two-semester course created by Andrew Murray, Herschel Smith Professor of Molecular Genetics, covering methods and concepts from biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. They design class discussion and assignments as problems that require students to rely on one another to solve. "We let them know it's normal to not be able to answer everythingon the problem sets on their own. We've structured them that way. They learn to engage with classmates, or with us, to work it out."