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In a year of heightened University focus on learning and teaching, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) is premiering “Harvard’s Great Teachers” (for which it has the address http://greatteachers.harvard.edu) a series of online videos featuring prominent faculty members talking about their work with students and their scholarly passions. The videos, ranging in length from a few minutes to an hour, also include full lectures and talks with students about their classroom experiences, according to the FAS announcement.

In a statement, FAS dean Michael D. Smith said the new video series “showcases our faculty sharing their ideas, talking about what they do in the classroom, very much in the liberal-arts tradition. Harvard is a place where the nuance, complexity, and the sometimes startling beauty of ideas are explored. We hope these videos will illustrate for viewers the type of exciting and important conversations that happen here every day between our faculty and students.”

The initial videos focus on four prominent faculty members:

Introducing the series to his colleagues at the FAS faculty meeting on March 27, Dean Smith said two more professors will be profiled in videos to be released during this academic year.

The presentations complement the on-campus Conversations@FAS series, which this winter twice presented panels of (principally) younger faculty members from diverse disciplines exploring the ways technology might change the institution in the next quarter-century, and the enduring values that ought to guide FAS despite such changes.

Reaching Alumni and the Wider World

By making the videos available, and complementing them with other materials collected by the Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, FAS manages a trifecta:

 (Other institutions have pursued different strategies for making their faculty members and course content widely available online. The “Open Yale” initiative, funded by the Hewlett Foundation, makes a broad array of entire introductory courses available for free. MITx is creating new online courses for which completion certificates will be granted to students, beginning this fall.)

FAS’s great teachers series promises to extend for as long as five years, with as many as six new video releases produced annually.