Lecturer on Education
Degree: Ed.D., Harvard University, (2007)
Office: Longfellow 427
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), where he is also a principal investigator, a lecturer on education at HGSE, and the educational chair at Harvard’s Learning Environments for Tomorrow — a collaboration with HGSE and Harvard Graduate School of Design. His teaching and writing explores 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.
This interest can be seen in three areas of his current work:
- Professional Learning in Communities: How do a variety of professionals come together to learn with and from one another? Currently Wilson directs the research of Project Zero’s “Learning Innovations Laboratory (LILA),” an interdisciplinary professional learning community that facilitates cross-organizational learning on contemporary challenges of human development and change in organizations. LILA involves top leaders from twenty global organizations such as the Cisco, Novartis, the CIA, Steelcase, and the US Army. Since 2000, LILA has conducted dozens of explorations into themes such as the emerging science of decision making, the future of learning, and leadership development.
- Learning & Leadership Behaviors in the Workplace: How do professionals develop and deploy actions that enable learning in their everyday work? Wilson co-authored the book, Learning at Work (2005), outlines practices that support formal and informal learning in the workplace. From 2007-2011 he was a Research Fellow at the acclaimed innovation design consultancy, IDEO, in which he studied and designed interventions to enhance the learning and leadership behaviors in their design teams. Additionally, he is currently co-directing the “Leading Learning that Matters”, a research project with 25 independent schools in Victoria, Australia that aims to document innovative school leadership practices that support 21st century learning skills.
- Making Learning Visible: How can teachers and students create new forms of learning in which their identities and their knowledge can be made more visible to themselves and to others? Wilson was the principal investigator on the “Making Learning Visible Project,” a project that engages pre-k through high school educators in adapting the Reggio Emilia pedagogical principles
Since joining Project Zero as a researcher in 1993, Wilson, has also participated on projects such as: "Teaching for Understanding" (1993-1996), "Understanding for Organizations" (1996-1999), "Teaching for Understanding in Universities" (1996-1999), "Wide World Project" (1999-2002), "Project-based Learning in After Schools Project" (2000-2002), and the "Storywork Project" with the International Storytelling Institute (2002-2004).
Click here to see a full list of Daniel Wilson's courses.
A Pedagogy of Play: Placing Learning Through Play at the Heart of Schools – Phase II (2017-2020)
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. Through a playful participatory research process, in Phase I of A Pedagogy of Play (PoP), we began to understand the core principles of a pedagogy of play, identified what learning through play looks and feels like, and considered the influences that shape a pedagogy of play. In phase II of this grant, we will continue refining these ideas and will focus our attention on school-wide cultures, practices, routines, and rituals with the specific question of how to sustain PoP practices beyond the life of our grant. By focusing on these objectives, ISB be well positioned to undertake Pedagogy of Play work without regular support from PZ (though we imagine an ongoing relationship). With study groups established as a stable professional learning model at the school, educators will be able to continue posing and answering new questions about learning through play as they arise. The frameworks and tools developed through the project will offer a touchstone and foundation for continued work. Further, we will mentor and support faculty and staff to be champions of PoP ideas, so that they can assume leadership roles in casting ISB as a lighthouse for learning through play and in guiding other schools to adopt PoP ideas and practices.
Making Learning and Thinking Visible in Italian Secondary Schools (2017-2018)
Istituto Nazionale Documentazione Innovazione Ricerca Educativa
Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and INDIRE (the national public research institute responsible for innovation in education, teacher training, and dissemination of best practices in Italian public schools) are collaborating on a new 18-month initiative called Making Learning and Thinking Visible in Italian Secondary Schools (MLTV). MLTV will investigate how two key Project Zero (PZ) conceptual frameworks—Making Learning Visible and Visible Thinking—can be adapted with integrity in Italian public middle and secondary schools. The ultimate goal of MLTV is to support the creation of cultures of learning, thinking, and understanding in Italian middle and secondary schools and classrooms, where teachers and students create as well as convey knowledge, culture, and values. We will also develop a set of sustainable and replicable structures, practices, and tools that can be disseminated within Italy and perhaps elsewhere, along with illustrative classroom examples across content areas and grade levels. A secondary goal of the project is to train a group of INDIRE researchers in PZ pedagogies and practices so they can provide ongoing support to educators in Italian secondary schools. Questions to be examined include:•How can selected PZ frameworks—MLV and VT—be adapted to culturally fit the needs of middle and secondary public school teachers in Italy?•What culturally driven practices emerge as educators in these contexts adapt PZ practices in their classrooms? •What support systems, modes of support, and roles can INDIRE create to best scale PZ frameworks throughout their school network?
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)
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.
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)