One online offering — about how to use educational data wisely and collaboratively — has surpassed 115,000 enrollees around the world. Another, about how people learn, has been offered to more than 400 incoming HGSE students during each of the summers of 2019 and 2020, piloting a new model of preparing educators with the foundational knowledge they need. And a suite of other offerings, from HGSE’s Project Zero, has drawn passionate followings to rich, less-expected topics, including making learning visible, creating a culture of thinking, and learning through play.
The coronavirus pandemic made online learning a necessity around the world, at every level of education. HGSE was already ahead of the curve.
What do they have in common? Together, they tell a story of HGSE’s 20-year track record in developing online programs and curricula — an expertise that has led to innovative and high-quality offerings across a variety of subject areas and platforms.
HGSE has contributed not only courses but also research leadership and analysis to EdX, the online learning platform founded by Harvard and MIT (and now featuring courses from a consortium of leading universities and other institutions) that has reached more than 20 million learners around the world. Among its many success stories is Introduction to Data Wise — that popular course on how to use educational data, which was developed by a team led by HGSE’s Kathryn Boudett, director of the Data Wise Project. Data Wise also offers a portfolio of other professional learning experiences through HGSE Professional Education.
A number of HGSE’s programs have a long history, and some — including the Project Zero portfolio — owe a debt to WIDE World, an innovative distance-learning initiative for practitioners that was developed in the early 2000s by David Perkins and Martha Stone Wiske. The goal was to improve teacher practice by helping to distill education research into a series of real-life practices and professional development offerings. The initiative reached thousands of educators around the world and was seen as a pioneer at HGSE and beyond, even winning a distance learning award in 2005.
In recent years, HGSE has launched online certificate programs that have dramatically expanded its ability to reach and serve practicing educators. The Certificate in Advanced Education Leadership offers current and aspiring education leaders an innovative, flexible, and job-embedded online learning experience that develops an understanding of the complexities of educational systems while honing leadership skills to create change. The Certificate in School Management and Leadership, offered in partnership with the Harvard Business School, integrates world-class faculty and research in managing teams and organizations with best practices in school and instructional leadership — providing school leaders with the knowledge to effectively lead and drive improvement in schools. And the Certificate in Early Education Leadership is a unique, job-embedded online learning experience that bolsters skills and builds professional community for early education leaders.
This spring, when HGSE had to switch to a fully remote experience for 2020–2021, it didn’t have to build from scratch. Instead, faculty members and instructional designers could draw on what they knew and had learned about how to build strong, vibrant learning communities over a distance. And as schools across the country and around the world were forced to close and go virtual, another HGSE-launched MOOC on HarvardX hit a remarkable milestone. Karen Mapp’s EdX course on family engagement in education quickly vaulted into the top 10 courses on the platform — and it has now reached more than 100,000 people. – Bari Walsh