The Harvard Graduate School of Education today launched a new website aimed at connecting the research of its faculty with educators in the field. The Usable Knowledge website features a diverse set of media—text, video, and audio—to make the leading research of its faculty accessible to educators all over the world.
"The Usable Knowledge website is consistent with the School's commitment to bringing research to our colleagues throughout the education community. To create the best learning opportunities for all students, it is critical that educators have access to research on what works in teaching and learning," said Kathleen McCartney, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. "This new website, built with the enthusiastic participation of the School's faculty, is one way for the Harvard Graduate School of Education to reach educators everywhere and to extend our impact on education practice."
The Usable Knowledge website is organized around five topic areas that align with high priorities for educators: leadership and policy; learning and development; decisions through data; community and family; and teaching and curriculum. Each topic area includes a number of research pieces from HGSE faculty, written for practitioners and intended to connect with practical action or with key knowledge to inform practice.
"Educational leaders have many decisions to make every day that affect how students learn, how teachers teach, and how schools and communities shape learning and teaching," said Professor Kurt Fischer, one of the Usable Knowledge project directors. "Researchers have uncovered many findings that can facilitate and illuminate these decisions, and the Usable Knowledge website presents those findings to educators in a way that helps them connect research to practice and policy. The site also connects to materials that educators can pursue to delve more deeply into these topics when they need more specific knowledge to guide their decisions and actions."
In addition to research organized around the five topic areas, the Usable Knowledge website provides features such as reviews of recent publications by Harvard Graduate School of Education faculty. The website includes an online survey form that seeks feedback from users to help shape future development efforts.
Joe Blatt, lecturer in education at HGSE and one of the site project directors, elaborates on the goals for Usable Knowledge. "We hope decision-makers from all levels of education and government will come to Usable Knowledge looking for insight on one question, and then come back regularly because they find the site provides interesting and applicable resources on many issues. You might come for new ideas about the superintendent's role, or ways to reach out to families and community institutions—and come away excited about the promise of brain research for learning, or what educational researchers can learn from the Boston Red Sox."
Fischer and Blatt offer other examples of the range and depth of information on the Usable Knowledge site: how school systems can become "data wise," by using test results to improve instruction; why education leaders need to overcome the universal "immunity to change" in order to move their organizations forward; how "teaching for understanding" is driving innovative use of distance learning for professional development; and what new insights from research brought a truce to the "reading wars."
The Usable Knowledge website is part of the overall strategy employed by the Harvard Graduate School of Education to connect with practitioners and researchers. Each year, the School brings thousands of educators to campus for its professional education programs; several thousand more engage in online courses through WIDE World; and the Harvard Education Publishing Group delivers the Harvard Education Letter, the Harvard Educational Review, and books through the Harvard Education Press imprint.
"We want educators to look to the Harvard Graduate School of Education as their go-to place for leading research in the field," adds Keith Collar, executive director of the Research, Innovation, and Outreach division of HGSE, and fellow Usable Knowledge project director. "Through the tremendous leadership of our faculty, we have the opportunity to deliver that research through our programs, our publications, and, now, through the Usable Knowledge website."
Funding for the development of the Usable Knowledge website came from the Dean's Dissemination Fund, through a generous gift from Al and Kate Merck.