Out of Eden Learn is an initiative of Project Zero, a research center housed at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Despite its singular name, Project Zero is a collection of loosely linked research projects that investigate the richness of human learning across a range of settings, including schools, museums, community and organizational contexts, and online platforms. All Project Zero initiatives are funded through grants or gifts. While its research projects vary in focus and methodology, a common thread across almost all Project Zero projects is that they aim to contribute directly to improving educational practice. They also tend to be collaborative and iterative, involving teachers, students, and other stakeholders in the research process.
The design of the Out of Eden Learn curriculum and online community are informed by decades of research on learning and thinking carried out at Project Zero. In addition to building on this history, Out of Eden Learn is itself a research project. The project has the good fortune—and the challenge—of having vast amounts of data on which to draw, including tens of thousands of pieces student work posted online and their related dialogue threads, thousands of student surveys, and hundreds of teacher and student interviews.
We use our data in two broad ways. Firstly, to improve the program and extend it in ways that are responsive to the needs and interests of students and teachers. For example, in the early years of the program we noticed that students’ dialogue threads seemed thin, but when we verbally interviewed them, students reported a high level of curiosity about the work of their online peers that wasn’t showing up in their online conversations. We therefore developed a ‘dialogue toolkit’ to support thoughtful, curious online exchange, and we continue to investigate its effectiveness and potential for further development.
Secondly, we use our data to address questions that can inform education and human development more broadly, beyond—but often including—the specific goals of the Out of Eden Learn program. Questions of interest include:
The project has already conducted research related to several of the foregoing questions, and we hope to expand our research capacity in the coming years.
Explore our Publications page for more information about our research.
Learn more about Project Zero on the Project Zero website.