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Thinking and Learning in the Maker-Centered Classroom: September Term

9/18/17 to 12/17/17

Team Tuition: $525 per person

Priority Application Deadline: August 7, 2017

Early application, in advance of the priority deadline, is strongly recommended. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Please note, this course only accepts team enrollment of three to six people. Teams will be considered on a rolling basis, as space is available, and notified within three business days.

Team members should be able to try out course ideas with students/learners in classrooms or other learning environments. Teams should also be able to meet locally, in person, at least once a session to engage in group-based activities.

Online Course Overview

Over the past decade, maker-centered classrooms and making-centered learning have become increasingly popular — young people (and teachers and parents alike) have greater opportunities to build, hack, redesign, and tinker with a variety of materials, in school- or community-based spaces, design thinking and engineering programs, and Maker Faires.

Maker-centered learning not only offers opportunities to learn about new tools and technologies, it requires certain thinking skills — such as navigating uncertainty, adaptability, collaborative thinking, risk-taking, and multiple-perspective taking — that are critical to engaging and thriving in a complex world.

Drawing on research from Project Zero’s Agency by Design project, this course offers classroom teachers, maker educators, administrators, and parents an opportunity to explore firsthand maker-centered learning practices and the opportunities they afford. Discover what kinds of tools might best support this kind of teaching and learning, and examine the benefits (to both young people and facilitators) of engaging in this work. Through hands-on, collaborative activities, consider how maker-centered experiences might fit into your own contexts.

Online Course Outline

View the course outline for additional information on course sessions.

Online Course Objectives

By the end of the course, you will:

  • Develop an understanding of the concept of maker-centered learning, its contemporary origins, and its implications for education.
  • Become familiar with an instructional framework designed to support maker-centered learning.
  • Be able to thoughtfully develop maker-centered learning experiences to meet the goals of your home learning environments.
How Does the Online Course Work?

The course begins with a one-week Orientation, during which you will explore the online platform and learn about fellow members of the learning community.

Six two-week content sessions follow. The average time commitment is about three to four hours per week. In each session you will:

  • Learn new ideas
  • Review and reflect on key ideas from the previous session
  • Plan for trying out and/or implementing course ideas in the classroom/learning environment
  • Work on a project or curriculum unit
  • Interact with a coach and course peers for feedback and reflection

​Teams of three to six colleagues take the course. Team participation promotes a deeper and richer learning experience in your local context and helps to sustain the use of core ideas after the course concludes. Team members will collaborate on most of the assignments, including the development of a project. Teams meet face-to-face once every two weeks.

Although the sessions are structured and coach-facilitated, all the online interactions in the course are asynchronous. You and your team can decide when to work on the course materials as long as you submit the assignment(s) on or before the due dates.

This online course is focused on professional development and not linked to a degree program at HGSE. Academic credit is not available for this online course. You will be eligible for a digital certificate representing 45 professional development hours upon successful completion of the course.

Who Should Attend

This course only accepts team enrollment of three to six people. Teams need to be able to meet locally, in person, at least once every two weeks. Teams can be comprised of:

  • Educators, administrators, and curriculum designers who want to explore maker-centered learning experiences in various formal and informal learning environments (course content is equally applicable to those working with primary school, secondary school, higher education, and adult learners).
  • Out of school educators and museum educators
  • Both participants with a working knowledge of maker-centered learning and those who are new to the concepts of making and design in the educational sphere.

Daniel G. Wilson - Faculty Chair
Daniel G. Wilson, the Director of Project Zero, is the Faculty Chair for all Project Zero online courses.

Jennifer Ryan - Course Instructor
Jennifer Oxman Ryan is a project manager and researcher at Project Zero, working on the Pedagogy of Play project, which seeks to understand the relationship between play and playful learning and investigate what it means to have play be central to schooling. Jennifer has been with Project Zero since 2006, having worked previously on Agency by Design; the Good Play and Trust and Trustworthiness projects; and Qualities of Quality: Excellence in Arts Education and How to Achieve I. Her current research interests include arts and maker-centered education, school/community partnerships, professional learning communities, and play. She is former project manager of the Agency by Design (AbD) project, exploring the promises, practices, and pedagogies of maker-centered learning. With her colleagues on AbD, Jennifer co-authored the book Maker-Centered Learning: Empowering Young People to Shape their Worlds (Jossey-Bass), due to be published in the summer of 2016.

Edward Clapp - Course Instructor
Edward P. Clapp, Ed. D. is a project director at Project Zero where he is a member of the core research team working on the Agency by Design (AbD) initiative—an investigation of the promises, practices, and pedagogies of maker-centered learning—and the Creating Communities of Innovation initiative—an action research study geared towards developing educational innovations amongst a network of schools in the United Arab Emirates. Edward’s current research interests include creativity and innovation, maker-centered learning, design thinking, and contemporary approaches to arts teaching and learning. In addition to his work as an educational researcher, Edward is also a Lecturer on Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Edward’s forthcoming book Participatory Creativity: Introducing Access and Equity to the Creative Classroom (Routledge) will be published later this summer, as will the book Maker-Centered Learning: Empowering Young People to Shape their Worlds (Jossey-Bass), co-authored by Edward and the Agency byDesign research team.

The Power of Teams

Team participation is a requirement for this program. Teams communicate as a single "voice" during the program. Team members complete readings and some in-classroom assignments individually, and gather as a team to reflect on and synthesize their common experiences in online group posts. Teams also work on a single, team-based project that is submitted at the end of the program.

Teamwork is required for a number of reasons:

  • Research and experience show that team participation enhances engagement in and practical application of program content in schools.
  • The team structure enables team members to support each other using a common educational language and framework, while enacting shared strategies in a local context during and after the program.
  • Current best practices in school improvement rely heavily on teacher collaboration and learning for district, school, practitioner, and student development.
Online Course Schedule

Please review the course schedule to ensure that you and your team will be able to participate fully in the course, taking into account your local holidays and vacations. The average time commitment is about three to four hours per week.

Session 1 (Orientation week), September 18 - September 24
Session 2, September 25 - October 8
Session 3, October 9 - October 22
Session 4, October 23 - November 5
Session 5, November 6 - November 19
Session 6, November 20 - December 3
Session 7, December 4 - December 17 (End of Course)

Textbook, Fees, and Policies

Course Textbook

The following textbook is required for participants in this course  and is not included in the course tuition. The textbook is available for purchase on Amazon or through the publisher Jossey-Bass — in both paper and digital format.

  • Maker-Centered Learning: Empowering Young People to Shape Their Worlds by Edward P. Clapp, Jessica Ross, Jennifer O. Ryan, Shari Tishman (Jossey-Bass, 2016)

Fees and Policies

This online course is focused on professional development and not linked to a degree program at HGSE. Academic credit is not available for this online course. You will be eligible for a digital certificate representing 45 professional development hours upon successful completion of the course.

Payment or a purchase order must be received within thirty days of course acceptance and prior to the course start. While a purchase order confirms enrollment, an outstanding balance is maintained until payment is rendered. 

Please click here for more information on our on-campus and online refund and withdrawal policies. If you have any additional questions or concerns about your ability to participate, please contact our admissions team at or 1-800-545-1849.

The Harvard Graduate School of Education reserves the right to change faculty or cancel courses at its discretion. In the unlikely event of course changes, the school is not responsible for non-refundable travel arrangements or other planning expenses incurred.

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