Dr. Catalina Laserna


Catalina brings an anthropological perspective to her research on the connection between culture, media, and learning. 
Her doctoral work at the University of Cambridge in England focused on an ethnographic study of teaching and learning in and out of school in a peasant community in Southern Colombia.  Motivated by her findings, Laserna participated in a Harvard-led project to enhance thinking skills in Venezuelan 7th graders, and later joined the Teaching for Understanding project at HGSE. 

Aware that electronic media were poised to reconfigure education Catalina went on to work for five years on various technology-related projects at BBN, a research and development think tank.  Between 1997-2000, she worked as a Development Associate at the Harvard Institute for International Development, representing HIID in Paraguay, El Salvador and Colombia on policy-oriented research projects. This work supported educational reform in the various countries, including how to harness the potential of information technology to support institutional change in educational institutions.

At the Harvard Extension School, she started the graduate Certificate in Technologies of Education which evolved into a Masters program.  Catalina also initiated evaluation research on the growing distance education program and subsequently founded and Office for Online Teaching and Learning, where she provided academic support to faculty and teaching assistants; she focused on Harvard College courses that, for the first time, where being adapted for an online audience. She recently spent a year as a research fellow at the Berkman Center for  Internet and Society where she worked on her book, Cybercy: how the affordances of digital media transform learning and enable deep understanding in preexisting oral and literate traditions.

Starting in January, 2013 Catalina joined the HarvardX team as a Senior Fellow where she worked on this pathbreaking initiative in higher education. In 2016, Catalina began working as a training facilitator for Parenting Journey, a non-profit innovator of high-impact programs primarily for immigrant parents to help build stronger families.