Each of our major summer collaborations took the form of a weeklong "sprint," all of which roughly followed the same process: launch, think, build, test, and reflect. At the end of each of these summer sprints the Learning Lab team produced a test assignment for the course (or initiative) that we tried out on our student usability testers. Below is each step explained:
launch-- (1-3 weeks in advance) The Learning Lab team has a diagnostic conversation with the faculty member involved in the project in order to assess the way(s) that we can help out the course, either by designing an entirely new assignment or by aiming to adjust and improve a pre-existing one.
think-- (Monday, Tuesday) The LL team educates themselves on the course content as well as the form of the assignment that we will be working on that week. This means both reading up on any past course syllabi or related articles by the professor as well as aggregating models in the relevant medium. For example, during Professor Jasanoff's week, we referenced Anthony Grafton and Daniel Rosenberg's Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline in order to familiarize ourselves with the evolution of the timeline as a form.
During this period we also often meet with Harvard faculty, graduate students, and staff who can advise us in best approaches to course content and/or assignment form. During Professor Jasanoff's week, Bok Center Associate Director Adam Beaver, also a historian, advised us on the potential shortcomings of the timeline form, while Digital Scholarship Facilitator for the History Dept., Jeremy Guillette, referred us to a broad range of digital tools for constructing timelines of varying complexity.
build-- (Wednesday, Thursday) The LL team gets to work developing the prototype assignment that they will test on student usability testers at the end of the week. We typically identify the learning goals of the assignment--what we hope students will take away--and then reverse engineer the learning experience from there.
test-- (Friday) The LL team leads a group of student usability testers through the assignment. Students are briefed any necessary background knowledge at the beginning of the session.
reflect-- (Friday, the following week) After testers complete the assignment, the group is asked a series of reflection questions on the activity that they have just completed. Testers return individually to the Bok Center for extended one-on-one reflections midway through the following week. The LL team also holds a reflective meeting after the assignment is tested where we discuss what was successful about the assignment, and how well we felt we facilitated it.