When she first joined the faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Meira Levinson identified as “an 8th grade classroom teacher who happened to find herself in a university.” Straddling these two contexts, eager to bridge academic rigor with the reflective practices she knew from K-12 classrooms, Levinson became interested in the idea of an online platform where Harvard instructors might share and gather purposeful, research-based teaching practices. Around this time, the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT) was founded as a vehicle for lifting up great teaching and learning around the university. Noting her university colleagues’ growing interest in having conversations about their own teaching practice, Levinson teamed up with Associate Professor Jal Mehta and Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching Matt Miller to craft a proposal that eventually turned into the Instructional Moves (IM) project, an HGSE Decanal Initiative made possible by generous funding from HILT.
The core IM project team consists of Levinson as the principal investigator and HGSE’s Teaching and Learning Lab (TLL) as the design and development engine. After soliciting feedback from colleagues around the university, particularly through HILT’s Teaching and Learning Consortium, the IM team decided to focus its first modules on topics widely-used throughout the university: lecturing interactively and facilitating discussions. The next step was to identify faculty members from various settings across the university who employed these methods in exemplary ways, creating engaging and empowering learning environments for their students. After scouring course evaluations, teaching awards, and recommendations from peers, the IM team observed over 20 faculty members, eventually selecting a diverse cross-section of eight exemplars. For each faculty member, the IM team conducted a multi-camera shoot of a featured class session and interviewed the faculty member and several of their students. Through an iterative design process, which incorporated several rounds of user testing, the team created the set of resources that comprise this website.
The IM team has become more and more passionate about Instructional Moves over the course of its creation, both because of the excellent teachers we’ve been able to interact with and due to the positive feedback we’ve received from users. As such, we are happy to report that the story continues, thanks in large part to HILT’s decision to fund a second phase expanding the scope and scale of the project. We have begun Phase 2, which will be informed by analysis of the use/usefulness of our current resources. As we gather this data, we will determine how to spend our time and resources to best serve university-level instructors at Harvard and beyond. Phase 2 will include additional modules as well as expanded features -- such as facilitators’ guides, guided online learning experiences, and in-person professional development offerings -- to facilitate meaningful individual and group use of these resources. We hope you contribute to this ongoing endeavor through your use of these resources and by offering feedback on improving them to best meet the needs of you and your colleagues.
The IM team wants to take this opportunity to thank several partners who have played a key role in the project thus far:
- Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT), for their generous funding and thoughtful guidance
- Featured faculty members, for opening up their classroom communities and sharing their insights
- Harvard Media Production Center, for donating personnel and equipment to support this endeavor
- Harvard Web Publishing, for going above and beyond in helping create this website