Learning Lab Spring Workshops

In the Learning Lab, the Bok Center’s Media, Literacy and Visualization team (or MLV) works to support faculty projects involving many modes of communication, many media for expression, many audiences and registers.  In the Learning Lab Workshop Series, the MLV team (and select guests) will be offering members of Harvard’s teaching and learning community the opportunity to practice these new modes of communication and--just as crucially--to learn how they might engage their students in these media new and old, digital and physical.  

Participants are invited to bring current projects or ideas for future projects (though this certainly isn’t required), and participation in the Learning Lab workshop entitles you to special access to the people, space, equipment, software, art supplies, and resources required to build a pilot or prototype in your chosen mode.  Want to create a video short about your research?  To design a podcasting assignment for your students?  Design and populate a website?  Develop resources to support a creative project you need to support in a class you’re TFing for next year?  We are your partners.

All workshops meet in Rooms 317 and 318 of the Science Center at 2pm on Thursday afternoons.

03.03 HTML / CSS Crash Course

In this workshop, for which no previous coding experience is required, you'll learn to write in the basic language of the web. The workshop will be led by Susan Buck from the Women's Coding Collective, https://thewc.co/ a development community dedicated to narrowing the gender gap in technoIogy.

03.10 The Web for Non-Coders

While most of us live a good portion of our lives on the web--seeing and interacting with the text, images and other media we find there, we don’t necessarily possess a grasp of what’s happening under the hood.  This workshop is less a tutorial on coding HTML, CSS and Javascript and more “code for reading knowledge.” How do the various languages that structure and style websites and interaction work?  How can you learn to quickly tweak settings to achieve your design or pedagogical goal without having to code the whole thing yourself?

03.17 Principles of Graphic Design

When we do think of teaching and design, we are more typically thinking of instructional rather than graphic design.  Yet given the power of visual explanation as a teaching tool, perhaps this should change?  In this workshop, we will encounter the basic principles of graphic design, and we will think about practical applications rooted in the key moves that teachers and learners perform with ideas, texts, images, and data.

03.24 Pen, Brush, Chalk (Drawing to Teach, Drawing to Learn)

Much of the excitement surrounding visualization and visual teaching is driven by newly emergent technologies. But there are older technologies (ink, paint, chalk) for visual communication that are every bit as powerful as digital tools. Moreover, they are far better for rapidly and inexpensively prototyping and even delivering visual explanations.  In this workshop we will perform some hand-on exercises designed to improve our skills at drawing out our ideas to teach, and we will pivot from what this experience teaches us to what it can teach our students as we examine some examples of drawing assignments offered in Harvard College.  

03.31 Teaching to Camera

For the current generation of graduate students and junior faculty, teaching online is no longer a rare novelty – indeed, for many of the faculty positions GSAS students go on to take, it will be a basic expectation.  But just as stage actors needed to refine their performance techniques as they moved from stage to screen (and it has to be admitted that not every one of them was able to make the leap), so too must teachers reflect on the differences between the classroom and the screen as radically different contexts, and one could argue that they should begin practicing the modes of presentation and engagement that the screen affords.  In this workshop, participants will be coached on performing for the camera, and each participant will have the opportunity to book additional time in the Learning Lab’s studio to create a video short if they wish.   

04.07 Podcasting

The podcasting assignment is becoming one of the more popular digital storytelling assignments in undergraduate classes.  In this workshop, we lead you through the process of podcast-creation from start (recording) to finish (editing and upload).  We will introduce the tools required to get the job done, as well as some basic storytelling principles that underlie podcasts.  We’ll also take a look at some sample podcasting assignments and discuss approaches to designing such assignments.

04.14 The Moves of Discussion (Both Digital and Physical)

Whether we are teaching in a brick-and-mortar classroom or a virtual one, discussion is often one of the key modes we’ll deploy to get students to critique, apply and synthesize the ideas of a course.  In this section, we will learn about a number of digital discussion tools and, more crucially, discuss how we might want to use these digital tools.  In so doing, we will actually shed a bit of light on the moves that matter in academic discussion more broadly, and come up with some practices for helping students deploy these moves both online and in person.

04.21 Movement Lab for Teachers

In thinking of teaching as a performing art, we’re probably more inclined to relate it to acting rather than dancing.  But movement is always a part of teaching, and we are constantly, whether consciously or unconsciously, making choreographic choices – even standing immobilized behind a podium counts as a choice about what to do with one’s body in the classroom.  In this movement lab, teachers will be able to practice and refine their vocabulary of movement, and to become more receptive to and aware of the movements--large and small--that they and their students make in the classroom.   

04.28 Objects, Space, Curation

The study of physical objects is central to many departments and disciplines here at Harvard – from Organismic and Evolutionary Biology to Art History, and everything in between – and many courses have begun making objects central to the undergraduate student experience, whether in the classroom, lab, or museum.  This year the Learning Lab has been assisting with a number of curation assignments, and in this workshop we will discuss tools and techniques for both teaching with objects and for digital and physical curation.

05.05 The Theatre of the Classroom

The analogy between the classroom and the theatre is not new (we just trotted it out two paragraphs up!).  But in this workshop we hope to expand your sense both of what the theatre is, and of what the classroom is – and can be.  How might our teaching change were we to borrow from the language and tools of contemporary theatre with its unconventional uses of space, media, and interaction?  As should be evident from the series, we are hoping to give teachers the tools they need to make conscious moves in every one of the media and modes that comprise the Gesamtkunstwerk that is teaching.  This is the meeting when we bring it all together.

05.12 Designing and Responding to Creative Projects

As we begin assigning students projects demanding increasingly complex vocabularies, technical expertise and creative or aesthetic skills, we need to attend ever more carefully to the ways we design, support and evaluate these projects.  In this session we will learn a few of the best practices for designing both formative and summative creative assignments and for giving students feedback on these assignments.