The Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) Wednesday (Dec. 6) launched a new Web site aimed at connecting the research of its faculty with educators in the field. The Usable Knowledge Web site 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 Web site is consistent with the School’s commitment to bringing research to our colleagues throughout the education community,” said Kathleen McCartney, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “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. This new Web site, 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 Web site 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 Kurt Fischer, Charles Bigelow Professor of Education and one of the Usable Knowledge project directors. “Researchers have uncovered many findings that can facilitate and illuminate these decisions, and the ‘Usable Knowledge’ Web site 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 Web site provides features such as reviews of recent publications by HGSE faculty. It also includes an online survey form that seeks feedback from users to help shape future development efforts.
Joe Blatt, a lecturer in education at HGSE and one of the site’s project directors, elaborated 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,” he said.
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.”
Funding for the development of the Usable Knowledge Web site came from the Dean’s Dissemination Fund, through a gift from Al and Kate Merck.