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Daniel Wilson

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Degree:  Ed.D., Harvard University, (2007)
Email:  [javascript protected email address]
Phone:  617.496.6945
Office:  Longfellow 403
Office Hours Contact:  Email the Faculty Assistant to set up the appointment
Faculty Assistant:  Jeffrey Brisbin


Daniel Wilson is the director of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). He is a principal investigator at Project Zero, a lecturer at HGSE, faculty for the Doctor of Education Leadership Program at HGSE, and the educational chair at Harvard’s Learning Environments for Tomorrow institute — a collaboration with HGSE and Harvard Graduate School of Design. His teaching and writing explore the inherent socio-psychological tensions — dilemmas of knowing, trusting, leading, and belonging — in adult collaborative learning across a variety of contexts. Specifically he focuses on how groups navigate these tensions through language, routines, roles, and artifacts.

Click here to see a full list of Daniel Wilson's courses.

Areas of Expertise
Sponsored Projects

Leading Learning that Matters II (2017-2020)
Independent Schools Victoria

Since November 2011, Project Zero and Independent Schools Victoria (ISV), a membership-based organization consisting of 220 independent schools in the state of Victoria, Australia, have collaborated on a research and professional development project called Leading Learning that Matters (LLtM), which involved an initial cohort of 11 veteran school principals. The LLtM project created a small learning community with the participating principals that allowed them to build social connections while deeply exploring two complementary themes: 21st century learning and leadership. This 48-month continuation of the LLtM project will continue to build on the strengths of the pilot project over two cycles (January 2017-December 2018 and January 2019-December 2020), with two new cohorts (cohorts 2 and 3) of veteran principals respectively. Researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Project Zero will continue to work with ISV to establish and sustain a vibrant learning community of experienced ISV principals, and explore how insights and images of practice for 21st century learning and leadership may speak beyond the boundaries of ISV and inspire schools around the globe.

Arts Festival Impacts (2017-2017)
Independent Schools Victoria

Project Zero (PZ) and Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) would like to continue the work started by the Festivals strand of PZ Connect Project through a separate contract to investigate ISV’s 2017 arts festival. This project includes support for the integration of documentation into festival activities as well as a targeted evaluation of the festival itself. This work will allow PZ to continue to support ISV in its efforts to connect the work of its member schools not only to the broader education community but also to the broader community, in this case through a festival.

This research effort will explore how ISV’s planned festival can incorporate documentation and real-time evaluation to determine the impact of the festival on the targeted community audiences. The particular goals of this project include:
• Work with ISV festival team members to incorporate into planned festival activities and events opportunities to make visible the experiences of the participants and,
• Learn about the effectiveness of the festival through analysis of the documentation described above and through research on the festival itself, in conjunction with ISV staff members.

In addition to directly building on the prior work from the PZ Connect project that explored the impacts of festivals on community audiences, this project also connects more broadly to PZ’s strong institutional history and interest in exploring and characterizing impacts of arts and other cultural engagements with communities. This project will draw on past PZ research such as Learning in and from Museum Study Centers, which explored the nature of audience experiences in art study spaces; the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum / Project Zero Educational Collaboration, which involved examinations of how to make art and art museum environments effective and accessible for community audiences; Artful Thinking, which examined the impacts of visual art on thinking dispositions in classroom communities; and Art Works at Work, which explored the impact of art on workplace communities.

A Pedagogy of Play: Placing Learning Through Play at the Heart of Schools (2015-2017)
LEGO Foundation

This project’s aim is to create a new vision of the relationship between school and play. We maintain that play’s place in school is not just in the kindergarten’s house corner or during recess for fourth graders, but that play and a playful approach to teaching and learning should have a central role in the curriculum and school culture. Grounded in a socio-constructivist understanding of development, the project aims to increase the prominence of play in schools, exploring the questions:
•What are the core features of a pedagogy of play in classrooms and for a school?
•How can a pedagogy of play be adapted to address different disciplines, age levels, and cultural contexts?
•What is the relationship between play and playful learning?
•What aspects of a school culture complement a pedagogy of play in support of purposeful teaching and learning? What experiences, rituals, tools, and spaces (e.g. celebrations, documentation, maker spaces) support a pedagogy of play?
•How can school leaders empower teachers to increase the playfulness of curriculum and enhance the learning that occurs during play? What are the roles of board members and families in this effort to create sustainable, systemic change?
The project begins with a two-year action research project at the International School of Billund (ISB) in Billund, Denmark. We will create, test, and modify a framework and develop tools and illustrative case studies geared towards helping educators put play at the heart of their schools.

Leading Learning that Matters (2011-2016)
Independent Schools Victoria


Learning at Work: Research Lessons from Leading Learning in the Workplace (with D. Perkins, D. Bonnet, C. Miani, and C. Unger),(2005)

Fun Learning Matters: A Guide to Project Based Learning in After-schools (with T. Blythe and J. Boyd),(2002)

"Bridging the Idea-Action Gap," in Journal of the Institute for Knowledge Management (with D. Perkins),(1999)

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