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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Accreditation

2009 Accreditation Report

Institutional Self-Study

7. Library and Other Information Resources



MIT's library and information resources are integral to our teaching, learning, and research. From inventing digital platforms that make subjects come alive, to developing new ways to share course content with the world, MIT harnesses the educational potential of technology in creative, dynamic ways. Subjects like "Visualizing Cultures" wed images and scholarly commentary to illuminate social and cultural history, while our Technologically Enabled Active Learning classrooms use animated simulations to help students visualize concepts and carry out experiments. Reflecting our commitment to service to the nation and the world, our OpenCourseWare (OCW) site is a pioneering experiment in the sharing of knowledge. Through OCW, core teaching materials from virtually the entire MIT curriculum – over 1,800 classes – are published on the Web and made available to a worldwide audience for free.

These initiatives demonstrate that as MIT develops and adapts technology—and applies it to education—the daily experience of students at the Institute and around the world can be transformed. Within this environment, libraries continue to play a critical role. The MIT Libraries are realigning to better enable the design and delivery of information services based on the needs of a broadly networked interdisciplinary community. Informed and driven by a deep commitment to a service model, the MIT Libraries are well positioned to anticipate the emerging information requirements of faculty, students, and researchers. Through the development of new tools such as DSpace, an online repository, they have set a new global standard for how digital preservation can work in the life of a university. This chapter explores our work within the MIT Libraries and our IT infrastructure to ensure that our information resources meet the demands of MIT's educational mission.

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I. MIT LIBRARIES

The mission of the MIT Libraries is firmly aligned with that of MIT:

The mission of the MIT Libraries is to create and sustain an intuitive, trusted information environment that enables learning and the advancement of knowledge at MIT. We are committed to developing strategies and systems that promote discovery and facilitate worldwide scholarly communication.
    — MIT Libraries mission statement, adopted in 2003

This focus on quality, relevance, and distinction is manifested by a service culture that is constantly evolving to meet the needs of MIT's dynamic users. The ongoing goal is to provide immediate, quantifiable benefits to faculty and students in the Libraries' domains of responsibility.

Background

The MIT Libraries are centrally funded and managed, but physically dispersed. The system is composed of five large "divisional" libraries that map roughly to the five schools of MIT; two smaller, specialized branch libraries; a community space in the Stata Center academic complex; and several small, cost-recovered services units. In addition, the library system includes the Institute Archives and Special Collections, which have responsibility for the Institute's records-management program. Approximately 40 percent of the Libraries' collections are housed in two off-site storage facilities. For the most part, resource development, technical services, administration and budgeting, and technology support and service are centralized. In 2007, the Libraries assumed responsibility for managing Academic Media Production Services, providing the MIT community with support for video production and postproduction, online video, technology support for distance education, multimedia, and video conferencing.

MIT's physical collections total 2.8 million volumes. They exhibit the current and historical strengths of the Institute itself, reflecting MIT's deep intellectual commitment to "science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century." Serials, currently numbering about 23,000, dominate the collections and collection expenditures. In 1932, the MIT Libraries joined the Association of Research Libraries, becoming the first technically oriented member.

MIT's community of faculty, students, and researchers is highly mobile. At a time when no commercial services were available, the Libraries developed a tool known as Vera to provide a network-accessible, customized gateway to the licensed electronic databases, books, and full-text journals provided by the Libraries. Alternative discovery tools are also available through links within Barton, the Libraries' online catalog, and via full-text links from Google Scholar. A book- and- image scanning initiative is the latest addition to the Libraries digital library program. The Libraries' Technology Operations Group provides technical support to these digital library services as well as to DSpace@MIT. DSpace reflects MIT's tradition of responding to unsolved problems by building our own solutions. With support from Hewlett-Packard, we created the system as an online digital repository based on an innovative, open-source program we designed. The MIT research community produces a huge range of electronic documents, images, data sets, and other files. Through DSpace, MIT is housing over 32,000 items and keeping them readable, accessible, and searchable, effectively forever. Since its release as open source software in November 2002, DSpace has achieved widespread adoption at research universities throughout the world.

Leading-edge digital library research using grant and research funding is conducted by the Libraries Technology Research and Development Group. The unit collaborates extensively with faculty at MIT, the World Wide Web Consortium, technology companies, and other institutions to develop applications and address digital library challenges; projects include SIMILE,to enhance inter-operability among digital assets, and FAÇADE, to create preservation strategies for computer-aided architectural design documents.

The Libraries' endowment is for the most part restricted to the acquisition of materials and directed largely to the purchase of books and occasionally electronic back files. Recent resource-development efforts have focused on attracting expendable and endowed gifts to support targeted collection needs and such common research-library needs as conservation, rare-book programming and stewardship, and the digitization of valuable historical collections.

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Service model

The Libraries' service model is based on a strong, talented staff of some 35 subject-specialized librarians who have responsibility for liaising with discipline-specific communities at MIT. This subject-based approach to building and maintaining relationships with faculty and students not only provides deep knowledge of activities and needs in the predominant departments, laboratories, and centers at MIT, but also informs the ongoing development of new services and tools to anticipate the emerging requirements of faculty, students, and researchers. Close collaboration with MIT's central information-technology organization is also an essential component of the Libraries' service strategy, as many of the services provided rely on the security and robustness of MIT's network.

Integration of print and electronic resources has been supported through services designed to deliver print materials such as articles and books directly to faculty desktops. During the last decade, the Libraries also have invested in staff , technology, and information content to meet new and emerging interdisciplinary needs, including needs for social-science data services, geographic information systems, bioinformatics, and copyright management.

Layered onto this service core are the goals of simplifying access to the Libraries' materials, services, and staff expertise, as well as instructing students in the skills needed to effectively find, evaluate, and use information to support their learning and research at MIT and after graduation. One tactic for accomplishing these goals is to develop self-teaching tools that provide community members, no matter where they are, with unmediated, 24/7 access to resources and services, Another tactic is to partner with faculty and other teaching staff to integrate lifelong learning skills into classroom and laboratory work.

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Training to make effective use of resources

Following the recommendations of the faculty Task Force on Student Life and Learning in 1998, the Libraries developed a program to become more engaged with the teaching activities of the Institute. Formal instructional programs are now offered throughout the year, but most notably in January, April, and July. A technology- and video-enabled classroom has been developed, and courses are increasingly available around the clock on the Web.

In 2007 the Libraries received a grant from the d'Arbeloff Fund to integrate core scholarly research skills into the curriculum of 3.091, a popular undergraduate chemistry General Institute Requirement (GIR). Partnering with faculty members and the Teaching and Learning Laboratory, the Libraries have begun a multiyear assessment to determine the impact of embedding these learning modules into the curriculum. Results to date suggest that the scholarly research curriculum has improved students' online search skills. The Libraries are now approaching faculty who teach alternative chemistry GIRs to consider including this same curriculum in those courses.

This past academic year, library instructional staff began an initiative to assess the effects of library instruction related to other courses. The pilot included 154 undergraduate students involved in 14 different courses from a variety of disciplines. Preliminary results suggest that students benefited from the library research training they received:

Other more routine surveys conducted by the Institutional Research arm of the Provost's Office confirm solid satisfaction rates among all key client groups of the Libraries. In 2005, in partnership with the Office of Institutional Research, the Libraries conducted their own major survey of faculty, undergraduates, graduate students, and research staff, with the goal of gathering information about the community's awareness of, use of, and satisfaction with the Libraries' services. Three priorities emerged for all library users: (1) improve access and navigation among and between print and electronic journals, books, and databases; (2) acquire additional years of electronic back files of heavily used digital information resources; and (3) develop a more systematic internal communication and marketing program. These findings contributed to a number of new service initiatives.

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Recent improvements to space

Institute funds together with donor-supported investments have produced many improvements in facilities, including repairs to the Building 14 courtyard, a major project to repoint the Building 10 dome to protect the Barker Engineering Library, a much-desired 24-hour study room in the Hayden Building, substantial upgrades to security and the working environment in the Institute Archives, more shelving capacity in on-campus and near-campus facilities, consolidation of research and systems staff members into one location, a special-collections exhibition gallery, and a state-of-the-art preservation and conservation facility.

In 2007, the Committee for the Review of Space Planning committed to funding a three-year project to renovate the Dewey Library for Management and Social Sciences. This important initiative addresses many outstanding issues for this heavily trafficked facility and for its large, diverse community of users. Additional renovations at this scale are a high priority, and the Institute is considering its options.

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Planning

The Libraries' planning efforts are firmly tied to the Institute's overall management and planning structure. The library director is a member of the Academic Council and the Deans Group, as well as a member of the faculty under the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty, and reports directly to the provost. The Faculty Committee on the Library System also provides oversight and guidance. In addition, MIT's visiting committees review and help shape the Libraries' activities and plans. Internally, the Libraries' organization is made up of four directorates: Administrative Services, Information Resources, Public Services, and Technology Research and Development. The Library Council, chaired by the library director and composed of the associate directors and department heads, coordinates the work of more than a dozen functional departments.

The Libraries' Strategic Plan (libstaff.mit.edu/lc/sp2005.html) guides current efforts. Planning is based on quantitative and qualitative assessment of existing services and resource provision, as well as methods for understanding user needs and views. A 2005 user survey referenced above was followed by another survey in fall 2008 to provide feedback on current services and future directions. In both surveys, 89 percent of respondents in all categories indicated being satisfied or very satisfied overall with the MIT Libraries, with the number of "very satisfied" respondents rising 4 percent in 2008.

The Libraries also invest in understanding user behavior by conducting usability tests of their online systems and carrying out ethnographic studies to assess user needs.

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Collaboration

Crucial to the success of the Libraries is fostering and maintaining key collaborations, both externally and internally. At the national and international levels, the Libraries are institutional participants in the Association of Research Libraries, the Coalition for Networked Information, EDUCAUSE, the DSpace Foundation, the International Federation of Library Associations, the International Association of Technical University Libraries, the Council on Library and Information Resources, and the Ivy Plus Group. Locally, key partnerships with the Boston Library Consortium and the Harvard Libraries provide important professional relationships for MIT Libraries staff and valued resource-sharing benefits to faculty and students.

Within MIT, the Libraries' collaboration extends beyond the obvious core relationships developed with departments, centers, and laboratories through its service model. Working with Information Services and Technology, the Office of Educational Innovation and Technology, and OpenCourseWare, the Libraries provide leadership for the ACCORD initiative. ACCORD is designed to ensure that all campus providers of academic computing services work together in a cohesive and transparent manner to offer faculty and students seamless and responsive service. One initiative is the development of the Image Services website (web.mit.edu/teachtech/image.html), which provides a convenient, comprehensive list of various tools and services available for acquiring and using digital images. the design of new infrastructure and process workflow to support the key services that support the course content lifecycle—such as Stellar, OCW, and DSpace. Other ongoing initiatives include designing new infrastructure and workflow processes; clarifying the procedures for obtaining academic software; and reviewing policies and procedures relating to video production and management for courses.

The Libraries also participate in MIT's Council on Educational Technology, which oversees educational-technology policy; the Information Technology Strategic Planning and Resources Coordinating Council, which functions as the strategic coordinating body for information technology at MIT; and the Information Technology Architecture Group, which sets directions and makes recommendations for the Institute's information-technology infrastructure. Finally, the Libraries work closely with the associate provost and vice president for research, and with the MIT Press and Technology Review, to develop strategies for supporting the extended educational and research mission of MIT.

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II. PROJECTIONS: LIBRARY

The Libraries' programs and financial planning in the years ahead will be affected by (1) the Institute-wide Energy and Environmental Initiatives; (2) the recommendations of the Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons; and (3) MIT's growing international programs. Areas of future attention will include ongoing investments in library collections, contract complexities resulting from international collaborations, orientation programs for international students and visitors, tools for teaching, and technical infrastructure for the global delivery of education.

In fall 2008, the MIT Libraries initiated a planning process to consider options for revising their organizational structure. The expanded leadership of the Libraries believes that the MIT Libraries must realign in order to design and deliver information services that are based on the needs of a broadly networked interdisciplinary community. The initial phase of this effort—defining the desired future state—is well under way. An added sense of urgency to redesign the Libraries' organization has resulted from the Institute's current fiscal challenges. The Libraries will need to be creative and resourceful to continue supporting MIT's mission with reduced resources.

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Digital Library Program requirements

The MIT Libraries have focused their digital library research interests primarily on the "born digital" aspects of information production, stewardship, and long-term preservation. To this end, the Libraries' digital library efforts are concentrated in such areas as tools development (Vera), digital archive functionality (addressing topics such as DSpace@MIT, MIT theses, and the MIT Press), information interoperability in the Web environment, and preservation strategies for proprietary works such as 3-D computer-aided-design systems. Donors have recently stepped forward to fund the digitization of portions of the Libraries' rare and unusual collections; these and other works are being scanned for inclusion in the Libraries' locally hosted digitized collections, where they will be shared with the Open Content Alliance, an international collaboration to build an open archive of digital texts and multimedia material.

Archival materials deposited with the Institute archivist are increasingly in digital formats that require specialized handling and attention, as do the video and sound recordings of important institutional events. MIT faculty are similarly interested in the capacity of MIT's Archives to appropriately manage prestigious faculty papers in the digital age. OpenCourseWare courses, MIT World videos, and various teaching courses that produce and use video content for educational purposes must be archived in digital form. Policies and practices are being revisited to ensure a coherent strategy for managing this growing corpus of important multimedia materials.

The Libraries must also accommodate ordinary faculty research output and teaching materials, such as visual images and data sets, that are increasingly produced in electronic and multimedia formats. Participation in national solutions for preserving these resources, along with peer-reviewed digital serials and journals, is essential to MIT's future.

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Support for improved scholarly communication

Under MIT policy, certain aspects of copyright education, advice, and management fall to the MIT Libraries. As this legal and regulatory environment has increased in complexity, the Libraries have added capacity and partnered with the Office of the General Counsel to better inform, advise, and support faculty and researchers on the issues associated with copyright management and scholarly communication. With assistance from the Office of Sponsored Programs and the vice president for research, mechanisms have been developed to facilitate compliance with regulations regarding publication of certain sponsored-research results.

In March 2009, the MIT faculty voted unanimously to make their scholarly articles openly available. The implementation of the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy is the responsibility of the Faculty Committee on the Library System, with support provided by the Libraries.

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III. OTHER INFORMATION RESOURCES

Information technology (IT) at MIT actively supports the Institute's academic mission. Our goal is for information technology to be fully integrated into living and learning environments, whether in the classroom, in the residence halls, or in communal spaces. For prospective students today, campus technology is a key factor in selecting a school; therefore, upgrading technology and integrating it into the educational experience are priorities for MIT. For example, the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences is exploring the potential of new media technologies to enhance education and research in the humanities. Through Hyperstudio, the school's Laboratory for Digital Humanities, the Global Shakespeare subject allows students to explore cultural differences in Shakespeare texts and performances from around the world. For Hamlet alone, there are more than 1,000 works of art, illustration, and films from which students can learn.

Managing the technological platforms and providing support for MIT's information resources takes place at both at the school level and centrally. The faculty-led MIT Council on Educational Technology (MITCET), reviews programs and sets high-level strategy for technology in this arena. MITCET's mission is to enhance the quality of MIT education by encouraging the appropriate application of technology, both on and off campus.

Many IT services are provided by our central IT organization, Information Services and Technology (IS&T). A number of more specialized systems and services are provided by IT groups in the Libraries, the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education, OpenCourseWare, and several schools and departments. These groups help us leverage technology as an academic tool to enhance the overall student experience and prepare students for what they will encounter in their chosen professions.

MIT is keenly aware of the need to provide coordinated support to the community. Several of the major programs currently under way across campus are highlighted below.

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Office of Educational Innovation and Technology

Technology is frequently perceived as merely augmenting existing teaching and learning practices. In fact, it can alter the way that students process what they are learning, and consequently change the way they construct knowledge. Using interactive visual representations of astronaut motion and of protein molecules, to classroom clickers and wikis, MIT faculty are incorporating technology into their teaching in an variety of ways to support student learning. To accelerate these efforts, MIT's Office of Educational Innovation and Technology (OEIT), located within the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education, engages in exploratory activities to identify technology-based solutions for new modes of collaboration, production, and the sustainable delivery of educational resources and experiences.

As described in Chapters 4 and 5, OEIT not only acts as a conduit to communicate the availability of educational innovations more widely to faculty, but also facilitates the adoption of these innovations, wherever they may have been developed, to help improve teaching and learning at MIT.

OEIT focuses on three key areas: bridging research and learning, linking digital content to the curriculum, and fostering communities of innovation and practice. For example, through visualization tools used in Biology and Hydrology, the OEIT is transforming the research tools that faculty and researchers use daily into applications that support learning, thus providing early exposure to the research process. As demonstrated in its work with programs such as Visualizing Cultures and the Spoken Lecture Browser Project, the OEIT enables transparent and immediate access to image and video content from diverse sources, such as the Roche Visual Collection, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, the Edgerton Archives, and MIT OpenCourseware.

OEIT is also helping MIT faculty explore educational opportunities with emerging technologies and innovative practices, such as Tablet PCs for collaborative learning; GIS Tools for spatial data analysis; high-performance computing for science and engineering education; as well as flexible learning spaces that incorporate intelligent combinations of situated, cyberspace, formal, and non-formal environments to support blended learning. More information can be found at: (http://web.mit.edu/oeit/index.html). OEIT's work over the past two years has involved 120 faculty and 110 courses. Tools developed for one class can often be expanded to others. For example, StarBiochem – a 3-D visualization tool that allows users to selectively view elements of a molecule, was first used in MIT's Introductory Biology course in the fall of 2006, and is now used by 800 students in three different Introduction to Biology (7.01x) subjects. = OEIT places particular importance on developing and supporting tools and applications for a wide range of courses that advance the recommendations of the MIT Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons. Case studies and publications can be found at http://web.mit.edu/oeit/browse/.

OEIT receives strategic guidance from the MIT Council on Educational Technology and works closely with the Teaching and Learning Lab, the Office of Faculty Support, the Office of Experiential Learning, as well with IS&T and the MIT Libraries.

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Access to IT resources

Through a rich array of computing resources, members of the MIT community can take advantage of educational technology, share information and programs, communicate with each other, and work together on problems and ideas in creative ways. The IS&T website provides information about many of MIT's resources, and IS&T encourages students to call or e-mail with questions and to visit the department during orientation and at events throughout the year. In addition, before arriving at MIT, incoming first-year students receive a letter recommending options for computer purchases. Although students are expected to acquire their own computers (and 96 percent do), the Laptop Loaner Program was initiated to ensure that all students have the computational resources to do faculty-assigned academic work.

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Athena system

The Athena system is a centrally managed, campus-wide computing environment consisting of networked client workstations, servers, and printers available to MIT students and faculty to help them achieve their academic goals. This scalable and secure system provides:

In addition to standard compilers, Web browsers, and communications tools, Athena offers both cross-disciplinary and specialized applications, including FrameMaker, Matlab, Maple, Mathematica, Molecular Simulations, SAS, S-Plus, Tecplot, ArcInfo, ArcView, and Xess.

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Policies regarding appropriate use of technology resources

MIT's IT policies provide a framework for the responsible use of the Institute's computing and telecommunications resources. These policies require compliance with relevant legal, contractual, and professional obligations whenever information technology is used. In addition, individuals using Institute resources may not interfere with the appropriate uses of information technology by others. The MIT Libraries likewise specify the appropriate uses of library resources and technology, and outline the standards of behavior expected of members of the MIT community and visitors alike.

IT policies also cover the privacy of Institute records; information security and preservation; the privacy of electronic communications; and the acquisition and use of third-party products and services. Institute Archives policies similarly address the access and use of Institute records and related equipment.

The Institute also has a responsibility to present clear guidelines on the proper use of all copyrighted materials, particularly digital ones, and to disseminate information on these policies. Working with the Office of the General Counsel, IS&T and the MIT Libraries have helped produce a unified, online source of information on copyright for the MIT community: Copyright at MIT (http://web.mit.edu/copyright/).

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Evaluating IT effectiveness

IS&T takes seriously community evaluation of IT resources and has several mechanisms for gathering this information and using it to guide strategy.

Since 2002, IS&T has conducted a customer-satisfaction survey every 18 months. This survey is distributed to a random sample of the MIT population in order to collect objective data about what is working and what could be improved. While certain survey questions have changed as technologies have evolved, other questions have been kept consistent to track changes in users' views over time. The most recent survey was distributed in October 2008 to approximately 1,500 faculty, staff, and students. IS&T received 605 responses—a robust 40 percent response rate.

When respondents were asked about their perception of IS&T services over the past year, 90 percent indicated that services had improved. Furthermore, the department's overall satisfaction score rose from 4.79—on a six-point scale—in May 2002 to 4.93 in October 2008. Survey respondents were most satisfied with the professionalism and technical ability of the help desk, with the wired network, with IS&T's ability to consistently keep systems running, and with IS&T's network-services operation overall. In 2003 and 2005, customers expressed dissatisfaction with the help desk; now, in a comparison with 10 other universities surveyed by a consultant, MIT's help desk ranks the highest.

While the 2008 survey showed across-the-board increases in satisfaction, the data also revealed some areas for improvement. Principal concerns for all users were the effectiveness of spam-screening methods (which were subsequently upgraded), the process for setting spam thresholds, the signal strength of the wireless network in certain locations, and overall remote access from outside the United States. 37 

IS&T's higher ratings overall reflect concentrated efforts to improve three core services—the network, e-mail, and customer help. To address areas of current dissatisfaction, several projects are under way, including a new e-mail/calendaring solution, the rollout of campuswide VoIP (technology for delivering voice communications over Internet-protocol networks), and a full-scale overhaul of the wireless network infrastructure to one of controller-based 802.11n access points that can regulate their signal strength automatically. The satisfaction surveys help IS&T determine where needs are greatest, and they provide a systematic mechanism for gauging the department's effectiveness. We anticipate that the 2010 survey will show satisfaction rising in additional areas, while pinpointing weaknesses that still require attention.

To further guide our efforts, IS&T created a student advisory board, ISTAB, to gather input and feedback on services from student customers. ISTAB members raise issues directly with those responsible for particular services within IS&T. In addition, ISTAB engages with a wide variety of other student groups, including the MIT Undergraduate Association, Graduate Student Council, MIT Student Information Processing Board, Association of Student Activities, and student IT representatives from schools and departments. IS&T staff attend ISTAB meetings to respond to questions, make presentations, and facilitate the conversations.

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IV. PROJECTIONS

Technology for managing course materials

MIT uses three primary services to support its course content lifecycle. MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is used for Web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content and is described more fully in Chapter 10, "Public Disclosure." DSpace, addressed earlier in this chapter, is MIT's institutional repository of online research materials, built to save, share, and search research documents that are in digital form (course materials, working papers, theses, conference papers, and more). Finally, Stellar is designed specifically to support individual courses at MIT, providing a framework for posting course content and other materials on the Web. In 2008-09 Stellar was used for over 80 percent of the classes at MIT.

Currently, these three course-content systems operate on independently developed platforms. Seeing the need for integration without compromising the separate objectives of DSpace, OCW, and Stellar, MIT launched the DOS (DSpace OCW Stellar) initiative. The goal of this initiative is to improve the effectiveness of MIT educational systems by providing a common infrastructure and processes that enable faculty to easily publish new teaching materials and easily use existing materials, while allowing students to access those materials using the technology medium of their choice. Key technology enhancements planned as part of this initiative include replacing OCW's aging content- management system, replacing or enhancing Stellar's current platform, providing enterprise infrastructure support for DSpace, and improving data interoperability.

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MIT Student Information System

The MIT Student Information System (MITSIS) comprises more than 100 administrative systems that serve all of the student services at MIT, including registration and academic records, student financial services, academic departments, housing, and medical.

MITSIS provides information and curriculum planning tools to aid students and their advisors in selecting courses and planning for the upcoming semester and future years. Using MITSIS tools, students can search online for subject offerings that meet their interests and degree requirements. They can then select subjects for pre-registration and view potential class schedules to identify time conflicts.

Advisors can view advisee information online to learn about their students and prepare for their advising discussions. Information available to advisors includes each advisee's pre-registration subjects, academic record, status of registration, degree audit, student photo, and other biographic information. Advisors use this information to stay up to date on their advisees' progress and plans, and to help students map out their curricula and activities.

As described in Chapter 4, MITSIS is also being piloted by faculty and students for online evaluation of subjects at the end of each term. Over the next few years, MIT intends to move away from paper-based forms and toward a central system of online evaluation. Parallel efforts will be taken to improve data on the quality of teaching and the ease with which it is collected. The Office of Faculty Support (under the direction of the dean for undergraduate education) administers the Institute's subject-evaluation process. The office is using MITSIS to improve this process and to provide meaningful data for the intra-departmental and cross-departmental evaluation of MIT's teaching. Sixteen departments pilot the system, and more are scheduled to come on board in the coming year.

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Envisioning a new student-information system

While MITSIS is meeting the day-to-day needs of faculty and students, it was designed nearly 20 years ago. It was originally intended primarily for administrative use, but today's students and faculty expect a more student- and faculty-centric system. To plan for needed changes, MIT initiated the Student System Vision (SSV) study in 2007. The dean for undergraduate education, the dean for graduate education, the dean for student life, and the vice president of IS&T are sponsoring this collaborative project led by Information Services and Technology.

Understanding the needs of all constituents who work with student systems is of the utmost importance and requires Institute-wide collaboration. The SSV project team hosted workshops, meetings, focus groups, and presentations that involved faculty, staff, and students from across the Institute. These activities tapped into MIT's collective intelligence to ensure an in-depth understanding of immediate needs and long-term expectations regarding student systems. An SSV Faculty Advisory Group with participants from MIT's Council on Educational Technology joined the effort, and an outside consulting firm facilitated the overall process. MIT wanted to ensure that the recommendations coming out of the study represent a broad consensus on where MIT would like to be—a true vision of student systems in the future.

In spring 2008, the SSV team presented its findings, along with a plan for implementing the next-generation MIT student-information system. The team's report is now being evaluated by various faculty committees and the administration. Additional planning and analysis are continuing, and the implementation likely will span many years.

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Footnotes

37 A summary of the changes in ratings from May 1999 to October 2008 can be found at http://web.mit.edu/ist/survey/2008/changes-in-ratings.pdf. For the complete report, see http://web.mit.edu/ist/survey/2008/report.pdf.