Improving Teaching News - 2017

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  • On February 1-2, The Teaching and Learning Lab (T+LL) partnered with ODL, DUE, and ODGE to host a campus-wide Festival of Learning. This 2-day event celebrated the creative contributions that MIT faculty, staff, and students have made to continuously improving student learning experiences at the Institute. In her opening remarks, Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart set the stage for the Festival and introduced the first keynote speaker, Satya Nitta of IBM Watson Education.

    In Nitta’s keynote address, titled “Watson and the Future of Learning Science and Technology,” he began with an historical overview of computing systems. He shared his perspective on the evolution of the field of artificial intelligence (AI), from its Minskian foundations in logic and reasoning to its current focus on intelligent tutoring systems through the implementation of statistical calculations and probabilistic answers. Nitta also quoted Daniel Denton, and stressed the fact that although AI systems can, in fact, learn, adapt, reason, analyze, and interpret, they are not intelligent. However, he did point out that by understanding how machines learn, we can gain insight into human learning.

    During the “Lighting Round,” MIT faculty and instructors presented short pedagogy talks that highlighted interesting and unique ways they engage students in active learning through the use of technology, project work, and interactive demonstrations. Materials Science professor Lorna Gibson discussed the evolution of her flipped 3.032x (Mechanical Behavior of Materials) class using MITx materials. Professor Michael Cuthbert demonstrated how he uses Artusi, an environment he developed for learning the rote, repetitive, but important skills of music fundamentals and music theory in his 21M.051 (Computer Tools for Music Fundamentals) class. Dean Dennis Freeman explained his use of task-centered instruction in 6.01 (Intro to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) and described how he uses hands-on, lab-based activities to provide context for the introduction of relevant theory in subsequent lectures. Peter Dourmashkin described his use of the The Lightboard in 8.01 (Physics I), which allows the instructor to face front while writing. Professor Ely Sachs discussed the importance of teaching engineering students to be experts in both analysis and synthesis and his use of guided discovery to support the development of those capabilities...

  • Funds will be used to create a Dean’s Action Group to disseminate evidence-based teaching practices.