Improving Teaching News - All Years

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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.

  • Several years ago, many of us in the Teaching & Learning Laboratory (TLL) began to think about ways to more effectively share our work. We discussed blogs, tweets, and a variety of other forms of social media, but we never achieved much traction or consensus. Fortunately, some of our ideas persisted and took shape and now are bearing fruit.

  • Improving educational delivery is a core focus of MIT, and also a priority for training new generations of teachers in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE). On July 19, about 30 postdocs and graduate students attended a Workshop on Digital Education hosted by CEE to learn about digital education tools available to them as they prepare to teach undergraduate and graduate students, both at MIT and elsewhere.

  • Awards honor faculty and instructors who have effectively leveraged digital technology to improve teaching and learning at MIT.

    This year marks the launch of the MIT Teaching with Digital Technology Awards. Co-sponsored by the Office of Digital Learning (ODL), the Dean of Undergraduate Education (DUE) and the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE), the student-nominated awards recognize faculty and instructors who have effectively leveraged digital technology to improve teaching and learning at MIT. The winners are:

  • MacVicar Day symposium features a sampling of innovative pedagogical practices and lessons learned.

    At the MacVicar Day symposium on March 11, Catherine Drennan shared a conundrum she encountered in her first job as a high school chemistry teacher: Her students didn’t seem to grasp how the chemical principles they were learning in the classroom could be applied in the real world.

  • MIT President L. Rafael Reif announced today a significant expansion of the Institute’s programs in learning research and online and digital education — from pre-kindergarten through residential higher education and lifelong learning — that fulfills a number of recommendations made in 2014 by the Institute-Wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education.

  • ‘Global Principles’ course challenges students at MIT and the University of Tokyo to develop a cross-cultural, systems approach to materials science and engineering.

    Today's materials scientists are expected to join multidisciplinary teams to solve real-world problems. A cooperative materials science course between MIT and the University of Tokyo is teaching students at both schools to incorporate social, political, and economic factors into large-scale engineering solutions.

  • Visitors to MIT often enter the door marked "Teaching and Learning Laboratory (TLL)" hoping to catch a glimpse of faculty and students in white lab coats working with lab equipment. To their surprise, there are no lab benches or strange-looking machines, but TLL does conduct experiments, collect and analyze data, make discoveries and reach conclusions. Instead of science and engineering, the focus is on education, specifically innovations in STEM higher education that enhance teaching and learning at MIT and beyond.TLL students

    "TLL is different from many university teaching and learning centers," says Dr. Lori Breslow, TLL's director. "From the beginning, we've combined our expertise in teaching and learning with research.The synergy between these two parts of TLL is what allows us to contribute to MIT's educational mission in a variety of ways."

  • DUET LogoDUET is the new DUE Education Talk series sponsored by the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education (DUE) and organized by the Teaching and Learning Laboratory. This monthly series emphasizes current research on learning, cognitive psychology, educational technology, educational assessment, among other areas. All members of the MIT and edX communities who are interested in learning more about education are welcome to attend. DUET’s goal is to provide access to educational research that can support individual and institutional efforts to enhance both residential and online student learning.

    View the 2012-13 DUET seminar schedule

    DUET’s inaugural talk took place on September 27th. Professor Pawan Sinha of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Science shared his work on an initiative merging scientific inquiry with social relevance to provide sight-restoring surgeries to congenitally blind children in India. His research looks at how the brain begins to learn the complex task of interpreting visual data.  On Nov 1, Todd Rose, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education discussed what modern learning science tells us about the origins of learning variability, and what this means for the way we design flexible, effective, and scalable learning environments in the age of EdX.

    If you are interested in joining the mailing list to receive email reminders about DUET and other education talks of potential interest, send an email with subject line ‘subscribe’ to duet-request@mit.edu. For questions about individual talks, please contact Jennifer French at jfrench@mit.edu.

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