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Ed School Launches Usable Knowledge Project

By Callie H. Gilbert

UPDATED: September 12, 2014, at 1:00 a.m.

The Graduate School of Education officially launched on Monday its Usable Knowledge project, an online platform aimed at making the school’s research and work accessible to all educators, students, and policymakers.

The goal of the project is “to put that knowledge directly into the hands of practitioners who can use it to make a difference in their classrooms, schools, districts, universities, and communities,” according to its official website.

“If we’re going to produce knowledge that matters and improves student outcomes, Usable Knowledge has to be a dialogue and not just a one-way street,” GSE Dean James E. Ryan said.

The website combines various social media outlets, like Twitter and Facebook, with Ed school Q&A videos, blogs, and taped lectures to create an immersive and engaging online experience for the user.  The website also features faculty advice and EdCasts, which discuss how to create a more caring and respectful classroom, as well as a series of ten briefs that analyze particular frameworks for early education programs across the United States.

“As more content rolls out, we'll offer toolkits and district-based stories on how research and best practices generated by HGSE faculty is being implemented across districts, states, and countries,” said Mary Tamer, the senior communications project manager for Usable Knowledge.

The genesis of Usable Knowledge developed from the principal belief that the research taking place at Harvard could achieve far greater impact if communicated and disseminated effectively to others working in the field of education, according to Ryan.

“After a day of managing a classroom, grading assignments, and preparing a future lesson plan, a teacher probably isn’t going to have time to read a full academic paper. But he or she may have time to watch a brief video on assessments and discover a better approach to prepare his or her students for a test,” Ryan said.

With its recent launch, reception to the Usable Knowledge website has been generally positive.

“The response both on and off campus has been positive and impressive,” Tamer said. “We had 10,000 visits to the website on its first day and 33,000 pageviews.”

Moving forward, Ryan anticipates that Usable Knowledge will continue to develop and bolster its content with more posts, blogs, and relevant information.

“We hope to include more education-based stories from across Harvard's campus," Ryan said. “There is significant work happening at other schools that we also plan to share with our audience.”

—Staff writer Callie H. Gilbert can be reached at callie.gilbert@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @calliegilbert95.

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