The Evolution of The Lecture

Why are there lectures? Could we live without them?  Who ordered them anyway?  These are important questions that many students have thought about vaguely, but they deserve more serious consideration.   The “lecture” derives from the medieval university. In those days, before the printing press, access to educational materials was defined by a model of scarcity:…

Social Learning Online: What Do We Know So Far?

On May 23 the Bok Center hosted a discussions with Phil Soffer, VP of Operations for Piazza, and science faculty and preceptors.  We asked Phil to write a guest blog post about the conversation; here are his thoughts on best practices for use of interactive social media in college courses.  Phil’s post gives some pedagogically…

Teaching with Objects, Part 2

In this four-part series, Departmental Teaching Fellows Anita Nikkanen (Comparative Literature), Erin Blevins (Organismic and Evolutionary Biology), and Meredith Schweig (Music) reflect on the why, how, and what of teaching with objects. These reflections grew out of “Teaching with Tangible Things: Museum Collections in the Classroom,” a workshop they offered at the Bok Center’s 2012…

A Reader Writes . . .

Frequent Bok Blog contributor and PhD candidate in Music Matthew Mugmon recently pointed me to a new technology, meant to facilitate classroom discussion. GoSoapBox is a customizable response tool that teachers can use to solicit real-time information from students – who no longer have to raise their hands. The idea is that students will feel less self-conscious…

HILT Symposium

Last Friday, hundreds of Harvard faculty, administrators, and graduate students gathered in the Northwest Building to celebrate and criticize higher education. As the first public manifestation of the recent $40 million gift by Gustave and Rita Hauser that established the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT), the HILT Symposium launched a high-profile effort to make…

Experiments in Experiential Learning

Three projector screens showing three simultaneous Keynote presentations running on three laptops makes for one visually stimulating talk – not to mention a fascinating sneak peek into the future of teaching. On Friday, Professor Shigehisa Kuriyama gave a talk entitled “The Geography of Ginseng and the Strange Alchemy of Needs” under the aegis of the Reischauer…

Around the Web: Hitting the Books

What will the textbook of the future look like? There has been a lot of buzz about e-textbooks this year. Will the iPad be the platform that turns the tide? What will collaborations between book publishers and educational platforms bring? Will late-adopting professors, publisher restrictions, questionable fees, and the nonexistence of a secondary market doom the conversion to digital? Will open-source…

Around the Web: The Lecture of the Future (and the Future of the Lecture)

American Radio Works recently released a thorough reconsideration of the traditional lecture, featuring science professors, among them Harvard Physics Professor Eric Mazur, who have completely altered their classroom structures, and a school (the University of Minnesota Rochester) that stakes its radical new curriculum on what cognitive science tells us about how people learn. Called “Don’t…