Making Knowledge Usable
The Harvard Graduate School of Education launched Usable Knowledge with the simple premise that education research should be made accessible to the people who need it most: educators working in the field, who could use the knowledge to help learners thrive. But the platform — which has steadily grown in readership and drawn far-flung recognition from peer institutions, the education media, and audiences across and beyond Harvard — has done more than just share guidance. It has become a key lever for the school’s engagement with the field of education, expanding the horizons for how HGSE responds to the challenges facing schools and society.
A project to get education research into the hands of practitioners has grown into an expansive initiative to share trustworthy information about how to support learners, improve outcomes, and drive change.
Originally developed in 2006 by Kurt Fischer and Joe Blatt, Usable Knowledge was relaunched as a signature HGSE priority in 2014, under then-Dean James Ryan. The growth of the site has far surpassed initial expectations. The overall tally of unique visitors to Usable Knowledge is approaching 5.5 million, and the site's content provides an important gateway to the thought leadership of HGSE faculty and researchers.
Its success has been driven by a consistent focus on high-quality, relevant, and frequently updated content; a strong connection to issues percolating in practitioners’ and parents’ lives; and the support of HGSE faculty.
Usable Knowledge’s most-read stories cover a broad range of timely, topical concerns that speak to readers’ daily challenges. Among those top-performing stories:
- “The Science of Resilience”
- “Social Media and Teen Anxiety”
- “What Makes a Good School Culture”
- “The Brain Changing Power of Conversation”
And Usable Knowledge’s special initiatives have allowed a deeper dive into topics — including how schools and families can respond to crisis and disruption, prevent discrimination and bridge barriers, and stem the rising tide of anxiety among young people — where one story at a time is less effective than a range of perspectives and solutions.
Dean Bridget Long has further centralized Usable Knowledge, as part of her vision for how HGSE can actively engage with the challenges and inequities that stand in the way of student success. As one part of that commitment, the Usable Knowledge team launched a series of webinars in the spring of 2020 to help educators make sense of school closures, home learning, and the seismic changes brought about by the coronavirus. The series, called Education Now, expanded into a newsletter to highlight resources and faculty leadership, and it will continue to grow over the coming months.