Campus & Community

New tech fellows to enhance pedagogy

3 min read

Improving classes from tech point of view

The first group of Presidential Instructional Technology Fellows got their

Byron Ellis, a grad student in statistics, gets started in the first training session for fellows who will work on tech innovations for FAS courses. (Staff photo Justin Ide/Harvard News Office)

marching orders this week during training designed to prepare them for a summer’s work of creating new online course content aimed at enhancing the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ (FAS) educational experience.

The 25 fellows are the first recipients of a fellowship announced in April by Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers and Provost Steven E. Hyman. Ten of the fellows will work full time for FAS’s Instructional Computing Group and collaborate with the others on course-specific projects.

The fellows program is part of a multipronged effort to promote the wide distribution and usage of innovative technology tools and software developed at the University in recent years that have transformed the way some classes are taught.

The fellows program is a collaboration between the office of Harvard’s Chief Information Officer, Assistant Provost Daniel Moriarty, and Harvard’s Schools. Its aim is to develop course materials and content that will have an immediate educational use.

“We’re really excited to get started,” said Paul Bergen, senior manager of FAS’s Instructional Computing Group. “In the end we will have a rich collection of pedagogically meaningful material to add to the FAS’s course offerings.”

The summer fellows have a wide variety of backgrounds, and include both graduate and undergraduate students.

The weeklong orientation includes sessions to familiarize the fellows with FAS’s

Matt Bockol, a training fellow, talks to new technology fellows at their first class.

existing technology, both for use in the classroom and for developing online digital resources that enhance classroom activities. Activities include lectures providing broad overviews and fostering discussion, computer lab work, and specific project planning.

Presidential Instructional Technology Fellows, expected to total 50 University-wide, will begin work this fall at other Harvard Schools. The Instructional Computing Group will oversee a program of academic-year fellows at FAS.

Franklin Steen, director of computer services for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, said the fellowship program is the latest step in a journey the Instructional Computing Group began 10 years ago when it first started providing support for a small number of courses that used information technology on the Web and in the classroom.

Steen said the Instructional Computing Group has evolved over the years, from designing specific technologies for particular classes, to focusing on software tools and templates that allow similar technologies to be shared in many classes, to the fellows program, which is intended to share those tools even more broadly.

“Now we have the next phase, when we go back and use the tool kit to extend IT to the most courses possible,” Steen said. “This is a terrific opportunity; we’re all really excited about it.”