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Ahead of the Curve: Allison Browne, TIE'12

Allison BrowneAllison Browne came to the Ed School with the hope of staying ahead of the curve. “I could see the growing influence and potential of education technology,” she says. “I didn’t want to be left behind the curve of a major educational shift.” So, she enrolled in the Technology, Innovation, and Education Program, where she feels she has gained the knowledge and skills not only to stay out front, but also to lead the effort.

“Allison’s presence and composure command immediate respect, but she manages to combine this with an unusual ability to make everyone around her feel comfortable and open,” says Senior Lecturer Joe Blatt, director of TIE. “Her classmates, both in TIE and in other programs, uniformly praise Allison’s hard work, dedication, creativity, and sharp insight -- and above all, her consistent kindness and genuine interest in their ideas and their success. In TIE we take the concept of a community of learners very seriously, and Allison is an exemplar of what this means. I can’t capture her spirit and her contribution more effectively than this assessment from a classmate: ‘Allison embodies the best qualities of an exemplary Harvard student, but more importantly, she epitomizes everything one could want in a mentor and a friend.’”

Browne’s dream job is, she says, to bring her skill set -- which includes teaching, data analysis, and now education technology -- into one experience. “I want to be able to use all of these tools as an inherent part of my daily life and I would love to have a community of people who enjoy the same things,” she says.

Upon learning that she had been honored with the Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award for TIE, Browne answered some questions about her time at the Ed School and beyond.

Favorite class or professor? Too tough to answer. I have learned so much from my professors and I appreciate each of them in their own way. [Professor] Chris Dede taught me how to expand my vision for what education can accomplish. [Adjunct Lecturers] David Docketerman and David Kahle taught me the importance of design and continual iteration. [Lecturer] Illona Holland taught me how to use questioning to uncover the details of a process. [Adjunct Lecturer] John Richards challenged me to make reasonable assumptions to assess a business, and [Professor] Stone Wiske taught me the superior reflective nature of networked environments. They all have affected me in such deep ways. I appreciate their intelligence and outreach. I will miss hearing their lectures and questioning them more than any other part of school.

How did you stay inspired throughout the year? My family and colleagues are a huge part of my strength. My husband has been so supportive that I believe I would have dropped out without him. My colleagues have helped me remember my strengths when I become frustrated and I will always appreciate them for this. (You know who you are!)

Any special study spots? I fell in love with the new first floor of Gutman. The energy of people walking through keeps me invigorated and focused.

If you could transport one person/place/thing from HGSE to your next destination, what would it be? The TSPN team of Maggie Ward, Shon Zelman, and Cesar Guerra…. I wish (sigh!).

Any advice for next year’s TIE students?  You will be learning from the greatest minds this country has to offer. Listen to them and truly question them if their lectures are confusing. It’s OK to be inquisitive and ask questions that might not be the “perfect.” Harvard professors cherish opportunities to clarify our confusion.

What children’s book will you carry at commencement? We Had a Picnic This Sunday Past. I’ve read that book to all of my children and it embodies my sense of family.

For the full list of recipients, visit