More than 100 people gathered at the Harvard Innovation Labs last Thursday afternoon for the inaugural Education Innovation Showcase organized by the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT). Faculty, staff, and students recently awarded HILT grants were stationed at tables with posters or demos of projects they developed to enhance teaching and learning.
Of the 30 projects presented from the past three years’ competitions, 12 included concurrent five-minute flash talks. Among them was Hedera, a tool developed by Ivy Livingston, a preceptor in the classics, and senior technical architect Bill Barthelmy to gauge the level of difficultly people face when reading a Latin passage based their known vocabulary. And Maddie Hickman, a design specialist in mechanical engineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) Active Learning Labs, reflected on her work measuring the effects on student learning of the open-ended extracurricular workshop series Project Nights.
The goals of the event were twofold: to shine a light on projects developed by recent HILT grant awardees to help them scale up for University-wide use, and to share the success of the initiative’s newest student-only Pilot Fund offering, which is designed, according to its website, “to help students take early-stage ideas [for excellence in learning and teaching] off the page and into the real world.”
“I’m so proud of our student Pilot Fund awardees,” said Jaime Goldstein, HILT’s director of strategic projects and innovation grants, in her welcoming remarks. “Some are now ineligible to receive funding from us because they’ve been so successful.” Pilot Fund guidelines state that applicants become ineligible if they receive more than $7,500 in funding from any source.
Previous awardees ColorFULL, New Teachers Thriving, STEMtelling, and Knot were all finalists in the 2019 Harvard GSE Innovation and Ventures in Education (HIVE) Pitch Competition, which annually invites teams of students from across the University to “present innovative solutions to current problems in education,” according to its website. ColorFULL received first prize and the audience choice award, and Knot received second prize.
Bharat Anand, vice provost for advances in learning, noted the significance of extending the domain of HILT funds to allow for student-only projects. “Students are at the frontlines of learning, so it’s natural they would have some of the best ideas about how to improve it,” Anand said. “And while peer learning has always been a profoundly important part of students’ residential learning experiences, its importance is only likely to grow with new possibilities for online sharing and communication. Today, everyone is a teacher.”