The Learning Lab team collaborates with Harvard faculty to explore, design and build materials, assignments, and activities for Harvard courses. These activities often involve unconventional modes of communicating, making, and creating – including data visualization, film-making, public speaking, 3D modeling, virtual reality, sculpture, dance and performance, and public service, among many others. Since students will often be engaging these media and tools for the very first time, the Learning Lab provides direct instruction to students through workshops and hackathons hosted in our Learning Lab Studio, a flexible space with dynamic technological capabilities and artmaking supplies.
We begin each Learning Lab project by assembling an intergenerational team of teachers and learners: faculty members designing new courses, graduate students interested in instructional design, undergraduate students excited about learning new media. To get connected, contact us, come to a workshop, a hackathon, or just drop by.
Researching & Sketching
The next step involves developing our skills, our knowledge base, and our capacities. We pull together relevant research, evaluate new technologies, and locate best practices and models. Thinking together about what’s already out there, both within the classroom but also beyond, leads to innovative yet grounded prototypes for testing.
Prototyping & Testing
Once we have something, whether it's a lecture or an assignment or a classroom activity, that we could imagine offering a student, we give it to the Learning Lab Undergraduate Fellows to test. The "LLUFs" offer us feedback on each iteration of the learning object, and this feedback drives the design process.
Delivering & Supporting
Through the cyclical design and testing process, our graduate and undergraduate fellows develop the skills necessary to support the course or assignment when it is deployed in the classroom. They produce guides and models; they offer dedicated workshops for students on any unfamiliar skills or tools required for the course. And the Learning Lab’s Studio offers space to rehearse, perform and create in a wide variety of media.
Assessing & Revising
The Bok Center's Research and Evaluation team meets with faculty to develop targeted assessment protocols involving anything from special questions on course evaluations to focus groups. The resulting reports guide future revisions to the course materials and practices we develop.
Reporting & Curating
The final step involves telling the story of the project, making what we’ve learned visible so that we can steadily build on our discoveries and those of others. And this is why the Learning Lab operates with an unusual degree of transparency, publishing a constant stream of photos, videos, and text.
Experiments in teaching can't happen in a vacuum – they are, simultaneously, experiments in learning, and learners need to be involved and central in the beginning, the middle, and the end. Central to the Learning Lab is the sense that teaching and learning are deeply intertwined – that, as John Dewey put it,