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Stories about innovation

By Jill Anderson 11/30/2017 4:10 PM EST
Birth of a Super School
Over the past year, HGSE has followed Kari Croft, Ed.M.’15 (pictured, center, with RISE assistant principal, Erin Whelan, right), as she worked on launching RISE High — an innovative high school aimed at serving the unique needs of Los Angeles-area homeless and foster youth. In August 2017, RISE High opened and now serves over 80 students across two sites with its unique model that ensures transient students can receive steady access to quality education tied to wraparound services. RISE was named one of 10 $10-million winning school projects by XQ: The Super School Project — a national...
By Casey Bayer 11/01/2017 1:57 PM EDT
Reading Robot
Picture a Tickle Me Elmo, but instead of Elmo only repeating “That tickles” over and over again, he is able to read aloud with your child, track their eye movements, gestures, and vocalizations, and respond accordingly in real time. Alex Hergenroeder, Ed.M.’17, has spent the last year investigating and setting the stage for her vision: “Clover.” A soft, cuddly robot, Clover can engage with children, and can provide them with a more personal, parent-inspired way of practicing reading than other technologies currently on the market. “This really all began with my lovely niece,” Hergenroeder...
By Jill Anderson 10/02/2017 2:15 PM EDT
David Dockterman
One could argue that, over his 30-year career, Lecturer David Dockterman, Ed.D.'88, has helped launch and shape the field of education technology — particularly how to use computers in the classroom in interactive and engaging ways for teachers and students. So, it may come as a surprise that Dockterman sees his foray into edtech as “happenstance.” Even more surprising: it was the introduction of computers at the high school where he taught history that led him away from classroom teaching. “This guy came in with RadioShack computers showing us this ‘cutting edge’ software. This game States...
By Jill Anderson 07/18/2017 4:46 PM EDT
The Read Read
Former teacher Alex Tavares, Ed.M.’17, spent much of his year in the Technology, Innovation, and Education Program working on his invention, The Read Read, a device which allows blind and visually impaired children to independently learn how to read using the same techniques as teachers would use. This summer Tavares is continuing this work as he focuses on building an organization and scaling the device at the Harvard iLab.
By Casey Bayer 06/20/2017 3:02 PM EDT
Photo: IBM
Sesame Workshop and IBM Watson recently completed a pilot in Georgia’s Gwinnett County Public Schools of the industry’s first cognitive, tablet-based, vocabulary-learning app. The app, built on the companies' new platform for personalized learning and vocabulary development, is intended to "level the learning field" by giving teachers additional insight into their students' progress. We asked Harvard Graduate School of Education Lecturer Todd Rose, who is also an adviser to the ongoing project and development of the platform, about the Sesame-IBM partnership and innovation, the connection to...
By Barry Yeoman 05/20/2017 4:45 PM EDT
School of their Own
Charlotte Dungan calls seven middle and high school students into a brick classroom above an ice cream shop in Durham, North Carolina. They pile, loose-limbed and heaving with giggles, into seats around a square table. "All right," she says. "All people, bring your voices down." It takes a while for the laughter to subside. When it does, Dungan, Ed.M.'16, begins today's Big Picture Ideas class with a small lesson on living with compassion. One of the students, a 12-year-old named Mic with flushed cheeks and fine blond hair, has brought a box of vegan cookies to share. "Do you remember why we...
By Lory Hough 05/20/2017 2:42 PM EDT
Two Rabbits
It was one of those ideas that happened by chance. A couple of years ago, Sarah Strader, Ed.M.’17, was in Cameroon, conducting research on education among the Baka, a group of nomadic hunter-gatherers living in the eastern forests of the country. Strader learned that Baka children rarely attend formal schooling, especially in the early years, in part because of their nomadic lifestyle, but also because of language barriers — the Baka speak Baka while in most schools in the region, lessons are in French and Bantu. But Strader also learned that families wanted — and needed — their children to...
By Marin Jorgensen 05/09/2017 1:05 PM EDT
Amin Marei
Though thousands of miles away, home was never far from Amin Marei’s thoughts during his time at the Ed School. In fact, the Egypt native says he enrolled in the Technology, Innovation, and Education (TIE) Program hoping to learn how to utilize media to provide scalable learning experiences in the Middle East. As the year went on, though, Marei’s scope expanded. “My HGSE experience allowed me to develop further interest in educational technology in the general sense,” he says. “Especially using learning science to develop scalable learning experiences for low-income communities.” His passion...
By Jill Anderson 04/12/2017 10:20 AM EDT
Sit with Us
As a seventh- and eight-grader, Natalie Hampton — now 16 — experienced what she calls "horrific" bullying. She was cyberbullied, verbally taunted, and physically attacked, but the thing that always felt the worst to her was having to eat lunch alone. Hampton changed schools and began to thrive, but she could not just let that be the end of it. Inspired by her experiences — particularly the lonely lunches — Hampton created Sit With Us, a social media app designed to "promote a kinder and more inclusive school community" by allowing registered students to post lunches for other students to join...
By Jill Anderson, Matt Weber 01/31/2017 12:25 PM EST
Next Generation Design
How can educators can use innovative design models to develop and implement data-driven educational approaches in a digital learning environments? This was the question explored in Next Generation Design: Methods and Heuristics, a January-term course co-taught by Professor Chris Dede and Dejian (“DJ”) Liu, the founder of NetDragon Websoft Holding Ltd., one of the most successful online gaming companies in China. Liu, the inventor of the “design methodology of planning,” was excited about the prospect of teaching a course at Harvard in which students would learn to develop and refine a design...