Walking the Walk: Reflections from the Inaugural T-127 Gallery Walk

by: Josh Bookin

Gallery Walk Student Presenters

On December 9th, 2015 the Teaching and Learning Lab Practicum (T-127) hosted a gallery walk to showcase the capstone projects that students created for the course.  Community members from around HGSE – administrators, faculty, staff, and fellow students – attended the event to join the class in exploring and celebrating this meaningful work.  As a new member of the TLL who was not significantly involved in this first iteration of the course, I came to the event excited to learn more about the students who engaged in this endeavor, the projects in which they took part, and the skills and knowledge they are taking away from the experience.  In this post, I would like to share some of what I discovered from this inspiring event.

The Course T-127 is a project-based practicum that provides students with the opportunity to participate in the instructional design and development of curricular assets for face-to-face, online, and blended learning experiences as part of HGSE’s new Teaching and Learning Lab (TLL).  This hands-on course explores the research-based principles of instructional design through course readings, practitioner presentations, group discussions, individual investigations, and team-based project work.  For the projects, students work in a cross-functional team to apply their evolving learning to an authentic and complex instructional design process.  The semester builds towards a capstone project, with each student creating a professionally relevant portfolio that synthesizes and highlights their learning in the course.  These capstone projects, and the gallery walk that showcased them, embody many of the tenets that run throughout the work of the TLL.

A Focus on Transparency For the TLL, transparency means both engaging diverse stakeholders in the creation process and displaying and disseminating our work to the broader HGSE community.  The event was an opportunity to bring these two aspects of transparency together.  Harvard Teacher Fellows staff, who are thinking deeply about how to effectively instruct their teaching candidates in both residential and distance settings, learned from Sarah Nehrling about our Poll Everywhere pilot aimed at facilitating a broad diversity of online polling techniques.  Dr. Kathy Boudett, who is searching for ePortfolio solutions for the online version for the Data Wise Leadership Institute, engaged with Chris Uyeda about his investigation of a promising ePortfolio platform.  Communications team members watched the video that Sireesha Kalapala produced as an overview for the TLL and discussed best practices in the creation of effective video assets. Through these conversations, and many others like them, the T-127 students made visible the TLL’s philosophy, process, and products.

Gallery Walk Student with Faculty Member

A Focus on Process The TLL is a process-driven organization, where all projects begin with a thorough needs analysis that lead to the establishment of roles and responsibilities. In talking with Chris Uyeda about his ePortfolio capstone, I learned about the steps the team took to identify key stakeholders, unearth and prioritize those stakeholders’ needs, locate potential platforms, and explore the capacity of these possible solutions. Steve Sofronas, who worked on developing the design document for Dr. Karen Mapp’s Family Engagement MOOC, walked me through his collaborative and iterative journey of creating a document that enabled the evolving goals of the project to be translated into effective assets.  He loved the practicality of the experience, learning as much about the importance of communication, flexibility, and creativity as he did about enacting particular aspects of learning design.

A Focus on Reusability and Scalability The TLL is committed to maximizing the impact of our work and thus thinks carefully about how to create assets that both can be reused and can be scaled for increased reach. I was excited to learn about the joint project undertaken by Jillian Rubman and Mary Reid Mumford to create an orientation module for the soon-to-launch Certificate of Advanced Educational Leadership (CAEL) course sequence. Not only will the module will be reused every time a new cohort begins the CAEL experience, but it was designed such that it can be tailored as an orientation for other online courses that the TLL may develop and launch in the future.  According to Jillian: "It's both really motivating and a little intimidating that this orientation is the first thing participants will see when they start these new online courses.”  That motivation paid off, as their final product and capstone presentation were impressive indeed.

Gallery Walk Student with Staff Member

Looking Forward The TLL is again offering T-127 in the spring, and this time I will have the good fortune of being integrally involved in the process.  I am excited to see how we as a team will practice what we preach, continuing to iterate and improve upon the course design to best serve students and the greater HGSE community.  And I am excited to see what our next cohort of students learn and create through their work in our course.  On that note, please join us at our next gallery walk at the end of the spring semester to see this inspiring and important work yourself!

See also: Course, Event