Office of Experiential Learning

The diverse programs and learning opportunities offered by the Office of Experiential Learning (OEL) are joined by a common theme: mens et manus or mind and hand. Hands-on educational experiences, both inside and outside the classroom, expose students to different ways of thinking and solving problems, broaden their communications skills, and help them develop a better sense of self.

  • As part of D-Lab, students work with local communities in developing countries to improve the quality of life of low-income households through the adaptation of low cost and sustainable technologies.
  • Students take classes in the MIT Edgerton Center in which the focus is not on simply understanding concepts and theories but applying them.
  • Through the Edgerton Center’s K-12 Education outreach, younger students participate in activities that raise their interest and curiosity in science and math and open a window into MIT.
  • OEL’s three alternative freshman learning communities emphasize small classes and offer an environment where opportunities for faculty-student interaction, peer discussions, and learning are pervasive both inside and outside the classroom.

Director: J. Kim Vandiver,
Dean for Undergraduate Research,
Professor of Mechanical and Ocean Engineering, Room 10-110, 617-253-4366

Concourse Program - Concourse is an academic learning community within MIT whose goal is to allow freshmen the advantages of a small school while retaining the opportunities offered by the Institute as a whole. Core subject classes – taught by distinguished professors – are integrated into a larger human context represented by the humanities classes. Within the small class size, students benefit from extensive personal interaction with faculty, tutors, and each other.

Experimental Study Group (ESG) - ESG is an alternative academic program at MIT that offers experimental, small group learning in the core freshman subjects within a community-based setting of 50 freshmen, 15 staff and faculty, and 25 upper class student instructors. ESG also offers a series of hands-on and innovative six unit pass/fail seminars for all undergraduates at MIT during the spring term.

Terrascope - Terrascope is a freshman learning community which challenges students to think creatively about an interdisciplinary, environmental problem. Terrascope balances the lecture/problem set learning of introductory (or "core") science subjects with studies of complex, real-world problems through fieldwork and research. Students work together in teams to design and develop their own solutions which are then presented to a panel of experts and the general public.

The Edgerton Center - The Edgerton Center provides hands-on educational experiences for MIT undergraduates. The Center creates opportunities for students to engage in challenging activities and projects in engineering and science. Through invention and discovery, they are better able to master concepts too often presented only in theory through lectures and problem sets.