While I have believed in Constructivist learning for years, participating in this charrette gave me a personal understanding of the process that I previously lacked. To be a student in a classroom where process was central to learning deepened my appreciation for this model and will give me a framework to build upon. –Participant

The Future of Learning Institute is a Program in Professional Education offered by the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Project Zero, and chaired by Veronica Boix-Mansilla, Howard Gardner, and David Perkins. From the description:

All educators need to understand how changes in our societies are transforming the lives of young people around the world. Globalization, the digital revolution and advancements in our understanding of human biology all present new opportunities and challenges. How can schools prepare students for increasingly diverse and global futures? What is worth teaching, with unprecedented amounts of online information? How can educators best integrate emerging research on learning and biology?

Future of Learning invites educators to examine what, where and how children and adults should learn in order to thrive in a dynamic world. When teachers embrace learning for the future, they nurture expert thinking, collaboration and entrepreneurship. They foster intercultural understanding, environmental stewardship and global citizenship. They invite students to understand complex problems, create quality work and express themselves through traditional and new media—ultimately preparing students to live ethical and reflective lives in rapidly changing environments.

I have had two contributions to the design in the Future of Learning Institute. Along with Arzu Mistry, I developed an experimental design charrette drawing upon ideas from design-based thinking and arts education. Like many professional development institutes, the Future of Learning institute is a combination of keynote lectures, breakout sessions, and facilitated discussion groups. The design charrette replaces more traditional discussion groups, and it invites participants to reflect on the future of learning by developing a visual representation of the learner of the future. Through creative, hands-on, minds-on challenges, participants are immersed in a constructivist learning environment which inspires them to rethink their own schools and classrooms. I also served as a digital innovation coordinator, and I helped the Future of Learning team design and develop new online learning environments to support the institute. In 2013, working with Alan Levine of ds106.us fame, we developed a syndication based site to aggregate the observations and learnings from our participants and faculty before, during, and after the institute.

My goal in these efforts is to challenge the Future of Learning Institute team to, as much as possible, walk the talk of our institute and enact a learning space that inspires educators to imagine new modes of learning for the decades ahead. My hope is that these efforts will more broadly inspire HGSE’s Program in Professional Education to adopt educational practices that support professional learners as agents and co-constructors of their own development. This work is funded by a Hauser Grant from the Harvard Initiative on Learning and Teaching.