LInc Exchange - 2021: Reimagining Teaching & Learning at Harvard


Mon - Fri, May 17 to May 28, 3:00pm - 5:00pm


Via Zoom -
  • The LInc Exchange 2021 Asynchronous Forum |  May 17–May 28, 2021
  • The LInc Exchange 2021 Live Panel Discussion |  May 24, 2021 - 3–5pm 
Welcome to the LInc Exchange, an innovative conference where Harvard faculty reflect on the lessons learned from last year's pandemic disruption and reimagine education at Harvard moving forward. Last year’s unprecedented disruption to the educational landscape challenged us to transform the way we teach. As we head into the next school year, this is the time to reflect on the lessons learned and consider new modes of engagement and assessment for the next academic year. 

LInc Exchange - please click here to view videos via Perusall 

Introductory Remarks
Larry Bacow, President of Harvard University

Teaching and Learning at Harvard: Past, Present and Future
Bharat Anand, Henry R. Byers Professor of Business Administration; Vice Provost for Advances in Learning
HBS/ Office of the President and Provost
Bharat invites us to reflect on the lessons of remote teaching and consider some of the institutional and programmatic implications on Harvard as a university: What is really different, and perhaps better, about remote teaching? What innovations might we want to adopt moving forward? What can we learn from Harvard’s longer (pre-pandemic) history of online learning on how to make asynchronous learning scalable and engaging?

Owning Participation
Michael D. Smith, John H. Finley Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Deniz Marti, Postdoctoral Fellow LInc
Salma Abu Ayyash, Preceptor in Educational Innovation
Robert Haussman, Research Associate
Many of us value student participation in our classes. It reflects student engagement with our course material, and it is a critical component of active learning—both of which we all know are fundamental to student learning and success. But how do we encourage students to participate meaningfully in our classes? How do we send the signal that participation matters without making it all about the grade or a game of guess-what-the-instructor-values? In answering these questions, I'll talk about a successful reboot of participation and participation grading in my discussion-focused course this past spring.

Five Online Learning Ideas I'm Keeping
Andrew Ho, Charles William Eliot Professor of Education
I study online learning, but I have been skeptical of its brashest promises. After COVID forced me online this past year, and after a year where social and racial justice issues have taken center stage, I take this opportunity to review “five ideas I'm keeping” for my future statistics and psychometrics classes: (1) A weekly rhythm, (2) Slack, (3) evening Zoom drop-in hours, (4) Flexibility and fairness, and (5) improving my use of sociodemographic variables.

Genuinely safe learning
Todd Zickler, William and Ami Kuan Danoff Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
It is easy to say “there are no dumb questions.” It is harder to establish a genuine sense of safety, where all students can inquire openly without fear of judgement by instructors or peers. This is particularly true in STEM, and even more true for underrepresented groups in STEM. I describe strategies that had anecdotal success in a remote engineering course and ask if genuine safety is easier to establish when remote instead of in-person.

Remote teaching was a disaster. Was it?
Eric Mazur, Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics
Deniz Marti, Postdoctoral Fellow LInc
Emergencies can fast-forward societal processes. The pandemic catapulted schools and universities into remote teaching, forcing instructors and students to adapt to a new reality. By the end of 2020, public opinion had come to view remote teaching and learning as a disaster. Was it really that bad? Join me in analyzing how I transitioned my team- and project-based course to remote teaching and discovered some surprising take-away lessons.

Two Lessons from online teaching
Dan Levy, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government
In this presentation, the author (Dan Levy) suggests two broad lessons from online learning and how they could be incorporated into our re-entry into in-person teaching this fall: (1) Online learning nudged us to be more deliberate about the multiple ways our students can engage in a live class (2) Online learning nudged us to think more carefully about how to best combine synchronous and asynchronous teaching.

Isomers: Same But Not The Same
Gregory Tucci, Director of Undergraduate Studies; Senior Lecturer on Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Before March 2020, we had completely transformed courses to create classrooms where student voices were welcome and required. This transformation failed on Zoom day one—yet we managed to claw our way back to create some community and interaction. March 2020 also required an online lab program that we had to assemble quickly, without planning, or coordination yet it won high praise from students. Two weeks ago we used our online lab materials with Harvard students in the science center and it changed the way we think about our entire lab program.

Raised Hands are not Enough: Learning from Inequities and Awkwardness in the Zoom Classroom
Rebecca Nesson, Associate Dean of the Harvard College Curriculum; Associate Senior Lecturer on Computer Science
In the past year of Zoom teaching and learning, we all experienced awkward silences and other challenges of Zoom teaching, many of which have both troubling equity implications and have analogs in our brick-and-mortar classrooms that may have been easier to overlook. In this presentation, I highlight some of the problematic classroom dynamics in Zoom and how those dynamics may disproportionately disadvantage certain groups of students. I then explore some of the creative ways we learned to counteract these challenges in Zoom and the potential opportunities for transferring these practices back into the brick-and-mortar classroom. I'll explore practices and technologies for managing participation (hand raising and calling), productive use of side-channels like chat, and the effects of seating arrangements and explicit group formation. The presentation is deliberately exploratory and intended as an invitation to further discussion and idea generation among practitioners.

Seizing a golden opportunity: lessons from remote-teaching a computing class
Efthimios Kaxiras, John Hasbrouck Van Vleck Professor of Pure and Applied Physics and of Applied Mathematics
Salma Abu Ayyash, Preceptor in Educational Innovation
Robert Haussman, Research Associate
George Neofotistos, Visiting Scholar in Computational Science (IACS)
Before the pandemic forced everyone into remote learning, we had spent considerable time and effort to design an innovative introductory computing course for science and engineering students. The basic elements were tightly-coupled math and computing content with pre-reading assignments and in-class quizzes in every lecture, followed by in-class collaborative coding exercises in an active-learning format. The quizzes and coding exercises had been constructed to maximize team-based learning and collaboration. Transferring all this to the remote learning environment was a big challenge, especially the formation of well-functioning, productive teams. With the help of some on-line tools for pre-class assignments and assessment, and the extensive use of tools for surveying team performance and internal dynamics, we were able to provide a satisfactory learning experience. The student response (and appreciation) exceeded our expectations by a large margin.

Turning Post-Class Reflections into Post-Course Learning
Theodore Svoronos, Lecturer
“One-minute papers” are an effective tool to prompt learners to reflect on their learning at the end of a class session, but leave little room for documenting learning over time. I asked learners to write one-minute papers in a shared online spreadsheet and, at the end of the semester, I compiled each learner's thoughts into a personalized document. This allowed learners to use their reflections as a study tool and blueprint for future exploration.

Creating Data Science Excitement for the Non-Data Scientist: Mixing 3-minute case studies with programming from scratch!
Hanspeter Pfister, An Wang Professor of Computer Science
Liberty Vittert, Lecturer on Statistics
We created DS10 Elements of Data Science to engage and empower students who wouldn't necessarily be interested in statistics or computer science to create their own data science projects. Instead of mixing an intro statistics class, an intro CS class, and an intro communications class, we decided to teach from scratch what stats, CS, and communication skills students need to complete a data science project. Using multiple 3-minute data science case studies that match the programming and communication skills the students learn each week, the course takes a holistic look at the elements of data science.

Beyond Hands-On
Michelle Rosen, Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering Design
Elaine Kristant, Director for Active Learning
In ES51 (Computer-Aided Machine Design), students learn mechanical design and fabrication by building a simple robot. In the remote format, it was impossible for students to access the Active Learning Labs and machine shop. To keep the course effective, we flipped the lecture, included significant hands-on work, and added emphasis to teamwork and communication. Students were able to build robots of their own designs in their homes. They remained strongly engaged and learned real-world skills.

Squeeze that Kraut: Comparing student perceptions in an experiential fermentation-based course taught remotely and in-person
Pia Sörensen, Senior Preceptor in Chemical Engineering and Applied Materials
What worked and what didn’t? This presentation aims to answer this question by comparing student perception data from the same course taught in-person and remotely in 2018 and 2021 respectively. The data show an overall lower perceived usefulness of assignments overall, especially for discussion forum activities, in the 2021 remote course. It also shows that hands-on exercises are perceived to be equally effective in both formats, and that student engagement was somewhat higher in 2021.

Learning TOGETHER in times of COVID
Fawwaz Habbal, Executive Dean for Education and Research; Co-Director of the Master in Design Engineering Program (MDE); Senior Lecturer on Applied Physics
Good learning tools and engagement are necessary for learning, but not sufficient. Isolation and detachment are detriments for learning, and are augmented by fear and the psychological effects of racial injustice, societal inequality and violence. A closely netted social ecosystem that brings students and faculty together is required and is enabled by pleasurable conversation, laughter, self-determination and the removal of a fear of failure. Everything we learned about students' needs now, existed before; COVID is an amplifier.

HazeL: Lab kit innovation for remote environmental engineering experiments
Glen Andrew de Vera, Chemical/Environmental Lab Engineer
Benjamin Brown, Electronics Shop Engineer
Steven Cortesa, Mechanical Engineer for Active Learning
Melissa Hancock, Director for Active Learning Biological and Environmental Engineering
Jonas LaPier, Harvard College Student
Jack Bruno, Teaching Fellow in SEAS
Mona Dai, Teaching Fellow in SEAS
Elsie Sunderland, Gordon McKay Professor of Environmental Chemistry; Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering in the Department of Environmental Health; Affiliate of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Steven C. Wofsy, Abbott Lawrence Rotch Professor of Atmospheric and Environmental Science
A challenge for remote engineering courses is providing students with engaging hands-on learning experiences that do not require a laboratory. For a course teaching air quality, we developed a handheld low-cost aerosol and dust sensor that was shipped to students all over the world. Instead of traditional synchronous lab activities, students worked asynchronously to design experiments and collect and analyze field data. This asynchronous approach to laboratory work enhanced student participation and engagement.

Keep, Stop, Innovate: Lessons from Course Redesign and Pandemic Teaching
James P. Honan, Senior Lecturer on Education
Salma Abu Ayyash, Preceptor in Educational Innovation
Robert Haussman, Research Associate
Deniz Marti, Postdoctoral Fellow LInc
This past year challenged us to reflect upon our approach to teaching and our role as educators. Most of us revisited our course designs, class activities, and assessments, primarily to address the remote scenario. As we begin to plan for a return to campus, we face the following questions: What are we keeping? What will we choose not to keep? And what could benefit from further innovation? Here, I highlight some of the pedagogical approaches in my course on strategic finance that helped students engage with their peers, receive support from the teaching team, and develop expertise more effectively. I invite us to reflect upon the impact of our experiences on both our practice and our identity as educators.

Experimenting with Simulation
Mohammad Souri, Senior Computational and Simulation Engineer
Michael Aziz, Gene and Tracy Sykes Professor of Materials and Energy Technologies
Thomas George, Research Assistant in SEAS
Steven Cortesa, Mechanical Engineer for Active Learning
Nishant Sule, Director for Active Learning Computing in Engineering Education SEAS
Giving students an experience of experimentation remotely was a challenge facing the ES181–Engineering-Thermodynamics instructional team. We developed a multi-physics application replicating an experiment to measure the efficiencies of light bulbs. By modifying various experimental conditions in the application and observing the outcomes, students identified a configuration for the actual experiment for determining efficiency with minimal artifacts to be conducted by the course staff. The simulations enabled deeper exploration of concepts such as convective and radiative heat transfer and convective fluid flow.




During the week of May 17, LInc will host LInc Exchange 2021, a (mostly) asynchronous, but still interactive, meeting place for faculty across campus to exchange ideas and chart a path forward. You will be able to pick and choose the sessions that pique your interest -- whenever it suits your schedule -- and engage with the presenters and other participants asynchronously. 
On Monday May 24 from 3-5 pm we will host a live panel discussion with the presenters to discuss how we collectively envision Harvard courses and classrooms in the future.

LInc Exchange 2021 - Panel Discussion - Reimagining Teaching and Learning at Harvard 
May 24, 2021 - 3-5pm 
Discussion Leader: Eric Mazur, PhD, Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics and Faculty Director of LInc

Dan Levy, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government HKS
Rebecca Nesson, Associate Dean of the Harvard College Curriculum; Associate Senior Lecturer on Computer Science FAS/ SEAS
Hanspeter Pfister, An Wang Professor of Computer Science
Gregory Tucci, Director of Undergraduate Studies; Senior Lecturer on Chemistry and Chemical Biology FAS
Liberty Vittert, Lecturer on Statistics

If you have ideas to share, please submit a short abstract for a brief, 15-min video presentation . A videographer will contact you to record your presentation, so it can be shared on the LInc Exchange via the Perusall platform. This platform permits others to watch the video and engage in an asynchronous chat overlaid over the video. As a presenter you can even ask the participants questions, which they can answer in the asynchronous chat. 

Even if you don’t wish to share anything, we hope you will register to participate in this exciting forum!