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Syllabus & Acknowledgements

GSE2x: Leaders of Learning
Self-paced course

About Leaders of Learning

All of us carry explicit or implicit theories of learning. They manifest themselves in the ways we learn, the ways we teach, and the ways we think about leadership and learning. 

In Leaders of Learning, you will identify and develop your personal theory of learning, and explore how it fits into the shifting landscape of learning. This isn’t just about schools, it’s about the broader and bigger world of learning. The education sector is undergoing great transformation, and in the coming decades will continue to change. Our hope is that Leaders of Learning will help prepare you for what comes next. 

About Professor Richard Elmore

Richard Elmore is the Gregory R. Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. For the past fifteen years his research and clinical practice has concentrated on the improvement of instructional practice in schools and classrooms, and the development of organizational systems to support those improvements. His current work focuses on the fundamental re-design of learning environments, and the development of leaders and entrepreneurs to create and sustain those environments, all in light of dramatic changes in our understanding of the neuroscience of learning and the exponential growth of digital culture. He was founding faculty director of the Doctor of Educational Leadership (EdLD) program at Harvard.

Course Goals

By completing Leaders of Learning you will be able to:

  • Articulate your own personal theory of learning, based on (but not limited by) your understanding of Professor Elmore’s Modes of Learning framework
  • Understand what leadership beliefs and styles work best with your theory of learning
  • Identify the types of organizations and organizational structures that help support your theory of learning
  • Recognize opportunities for innovation in different learning environments
  • Connect your personal learning theory with the physical design that best expresses and supports it

How to Earn a Certificate & Succeed in Leaders of Learning

To receive a certificate, you must receive a passing score of 60%. You will be graded on the short quizzes that appear in each section (50% of your score), as well as the self-reflections (25% of your score) and design challenge (25% of your score). Certificates do not indicate your score, only that you have passed. Your certificate will be issued by edX under the name HarvardX. To succeed in Leaders of Learning you are expected to:

  • Watch all videos
  • Take all Check for Understanding quizzes
  • Develop your own personal theory of learning
  • Think! Reflect on what you’re learning. Question your assumptions and those of your fellow learners (respectfully, of course)
  • Share! Participate in discussions and office hours. We want to hear your ideas about learning

Overview of course content

Leaders of Learning is organized into the following sections:

What is Leaders of Learning? Learn how to succeed in this course. Think about the learning sector and the future of learning. Take the Modes of Learning assessment.

Section 1: Modes of Learning
What does it mean to learn? Explore different theories about learning, and identify the organizations and leaders whose beliefs best fit your own. Use the Modes of Learning framework to locate yourself in a learning quadrant.

Section 2: Modes of Leadership
What does leadership look like across different learning organizations? Discover the leadership methods and values that appeal to you. Explore what innovation looks like in different learning organizations.

Section 3: Modes of Organization

How does an organization’s structure reflect its beliefs about learning? Consider how organizational methods match your personal theory of learning. Think about organizations that “cross the quadrants” and don’t fit neatly into the frameworks.

Section 4: Modes of Design

How does physical design affect learning? What does design mean for digital learning? Learn how to answer key design questions and support your learning theory.

Where are you now? Final reflections on the future of learning and your personal theory of learning. Consider the new opportunities of neuroeducation. Contemplate what choices you will make as you move forward in your learning journey. 

Within sections 1 – 4, you’ll find:

  • Explanatory videos featuring Professor Elmore 
  • An overview of the section’s framework 
  • An exploration of the quadrants that comprise the framework 
  • Key concepts, readings, and examples for each quadrant 
  • Video interviews with leaders from a wide array of learning organizations 
  • Quizzes to check your understanding 
  • Questions for reflection and discussion prompts

Why Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)?

Because we have a global audience, this course uses UTC. The current UTC date and time can be found here: 


Harvard Graduate School of Education

Professor Richard Elmore
Course Developer: Candice Bocala
Course Developer: Timothy O’Brien
Teaching Fellow: Darnisa Amante
Teaching Fellow: Kristen Wong
Interim Director, Educational Technology Services: Bill Wisser


Version 2 Additional Credits

Course Developer: SooJung Roh
Video Editor: Christopher R. Engles
Copyright Assistant: Bradlee Edmondson
Translator: Rafael 
QA: Alex Nones, Michio Kawai, Kenneth Hagberg, Shilpa Idnani

Version 1 Credits

Manager, Instructional Design: Sarah Grafman
Course Developer: Molly Wasser
Graphics Designer: Amanda Clarke 
Videographer: Alex Auremia, Pete Jahn
Video Editors: Tyler Gervais, Pete Jahn, Maria Kobrina
Post Production Manager: Mark Steele
Production Coordinator: Ana Trandafir
Videographer, Florida Interviews: Alex Gazio
Image Researchers: Mariah Garcia, Harrison Smith

Associate Director, Instructional Development: Annie Valva
Communications Director: Michael Rutter
Program Manager: Sophia Snyder
Copyright Advisor: Kyle K. Courtney
Senior Financial Partner: Patti Grip
Executive Assistant: Meghan McCormack

Faculty Director: Rob Lue
Executive Director: Samantha Earp

Voices from the Field

Andrés Alonso
Professor of Practice, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Former CEO, Baltimore County Public Schools

Michael Goodwin
Concord River Institute/Rivers & Revolutions

Peggy Kemp
Head of School
Fenway High School

Rob Lue
Faculty Director

Santiago Rincón Gallardo
Former Executive Director 
Convivencia Educativa/Redes de Tutoría

Maia Weinstock
Editor & Organizer

Prakash Nair
Fielding Nair International

Lynda Hayes
P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School

Ashley Pennypacker Hill
K-12 Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Specialist
P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School

Marisa Ramirez Stukey
Program Development and Outreach Specialist
P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School

Saeed Arida
Founder, Chief Excitement Officer
NuVu Studio

Adam Steinberg
Dean of Students, Director of Product Development
NuVu Studio

Rosa Weinberg
Idea Engineer
NuVu Studio

Judy Willis
Elementary & Middle School Teacer

Todd Rose
Harvard Graduate School of Education


Location courtesy of Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House, Concord, MA,
Fenway High School
P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School
NuVu Innovation Studio