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Crosstalk Seminars on Educational Change

A forum to share ideas and experiences on technology, teaching, and learning

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2007-2008 Academic Year

Wednesday, May 28, 2008, 2:30 pm to 3:30pm, TEAL Classroom 26-152

Photo of Toru Iiyoshi

Finding Grist and Inspiration for the Next Pedagogical Innovation

Toru Iiyoshi, Senior Scholar and Director of the Knowledge Media Laboratory at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Rethinking and improving your teaching and your studentís learning can be an intellectually stimulating and rewarding journey, but where and how can you find useful pedagogical ideas and resources for this endeavor? Furthermore, once you have succeeded in your transformational effort, how can you quickly share that experience and process with your departmental and institutional colleagues and beyond so that they can learn from and build on your scholarly work on innovative teaching? This session presents the decade of work by the Carnegie Foundationís Knowledge Media Lab (KML) that helps promote collective educational knowledge building and sharing. Some of the implications as well as the possibilities of how the tools and resources developed through this work could empower MIT faculty members as an engaged community of practice will be explored and discussed.

About the Presenter
Toru Iiyoshi is Senior Scholar and Director of the Knowledge Media Laboratory at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Since joining the Foundation in 1999, Iiyoshi has lead research and development efforts that take advantage of emerging technologies to enable educational institutions, programs, faculty, and teachers to transform the knowledge implicit in effective practice and transformation efforts into ideas, theories, and resources that can be shared widely to advance teaching and student learning. His current work areas include open education, technology-enhanced scholarship of teaching and learning, and collective educational knowledge building and sharing. Iiyoshi is the co-editor of the upcoming Carnegie Foundation book, Opening Up Education: Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge (MIT Press, August 2008).

March 06, 2008, 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm, 26-152 (TEAL1 Classroom)

iLabs - the View from 10 Years On

Prof. Jesus del Alamo
 Prof. Jesus del Alamo
Prof. Steve Lerman picture
Prof. Steven Lerman
Jud Harwardpicture
Jud Harward
Prof. Mark Schulz
Prof. Mark Schulz
Kehinde Kunle
Prof. Kehinde Kunle
Prof. John Belcher
Prof. John Belcher

iLabs is a software architecture for delivering remote labs to students via the Internet.   iLabs enables not only expensive or scarce laboratory resources to be  easily accessed by students, but opens opportunities for students to engage with experiments in multiple contexts. iLabs are spreading around the world. They have been enabling students to access and run laboratory experiments for 10 years.  This semester at MIT 6.002 students ("Circuits and Electronics") now routinely use ilabs for all homework accessing three different ilabs.

This seminar will present the state of the iLabs work in remote laboratories, introducing a way to control real-time as well as batch oriented experiments, and demonstrating implementations of remote lab experiments from Nigeria, Australia, and the US. This month the iLabs team is hosting developers from six countries who are building iLab  xperiments.  Come to learn the state of the art in bringing experimental devices to students, explore ways that your experiments might be made more widely accessible to students at MIT and elsewhere, and celebrate the extraordinary success of the iLabs project in its first decade of development and deployment of 'minds on' experiments.

Please join us at the end of the session for a special presentation by Dean Daniel Hastings to the iLabs team commemorating the 10th year of iLabs - "If you can't come to the experiment, the experiment can come to you."

Who:   Professor Jesus del Alamo, (MIT)  
            Professo Steve Lerman, (MIT),    
            Jud Harward  (MIT),
            Prof. Kunle Kehinde, (OAU - Nigeria), 
            Prof. Mark Schulz (UQ - Australia)   

What: iLabs - the view from 10 years on

When: Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Where: 26-152 (the TEAL I Room)

Time:    2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

For more information please got to either the iLabs Wiki or the iLabs iCampus website.

2006-2007 Academic Year

Upcoming Crosstalk Events

May 22, 2007, 10:30 am - noon, 26-152 (TEAL1 Classroom)

Donald Lessard picture
Prof. Don Lessard
Dr. Amanda Graham
Jennifer Craig picture
Jennifer Craig
Natalie Kuldell picture
Natalie Kuldell

Using Collaboration Tools in Teaching

Prof. Donald Lessard, Epoch Foundation Professor of International Management, Sloan School
Dr. Amanda Graham, Laboratory for Energy and the Environment
Jennifer Craig, Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies / Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Dr. Natalie H. Kuldell, Biological Engineering

The proliferation of network-based collaboration and social networking tools brings new challenges and opportunities for teaching. Wikis provide flexible, easily edited, web-based platforms for collaboration that can be used for any number of pedagogical tasks, from class projects to lab how-tos to course design. Blogs can provide a more individualized platform for student reflection. The collaborative environment of the classroom itself can be technologically altered through the use of classroom response systems and related tools.
What structure or set of practices makes for an effective teaching wiki? How can a professor efficiently and effectively negotiate a classes-worth of student blog posts? In this seminar we will hear from instructors who are currently using collaboration technologies in their classes. After some short presentations, we'll have further discussion of collaboration tools in general. This seminar will serve as the introduction to OEIT's new Collaboration Tools Program Area, and we very much want to solicit your ideas to help guide us as we move forward.

Seminar Wiki

Thursday, April 19, 2007, 3:30 pm to 4:30pm, 5-217

Visualization panel

Visualization panel

Visualization panel

Using Visualization to teach concepts in Science & Engineering

Prof. John Belcher Professor & Class of 1960 Faculty Fellow, Physics

Prof. Fredo Durand Jamieson Career Dev Associate Professor, EECS

Prof. Graham Walker Professor of Biology

Visualizations are fast becoming an essential element in teaching science and engineering. Computational tools for creating compelling, attractive, and high fidelity representations of scientific and engineering phenomena are more widely available and becoming easier to use. With all the aesthetic appeal that the current generation of visualizations bring, the question remains, are they more than just 'eye candy'- that is, what evidence is there that they improve learning? Do they deepen intuition about physical processes? What principles make for good visualizations? How do you work them into the course and plan for their use in assignments? How do you measure their impact on student learning?

About the Presenters
Professor John Belcher is Professor & Class of 1960 and a MacVicar Faculty Fellow at MIT. He has been primarily responsible for the development of Technology Enabled Active Learning TEAL. and has developed an award winning Java3D visualization engine TEALsim used for both the physics visualizations and recently biology.

Professor Fredo Durand is an Associate Professor an associate professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at MIT, and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Professor Graham Walker is the American Cancer Society Research Professor of Biology past HHMI Professor. Prof. Graham has been leading efforts to harness protein structure manipulation software for teaching in biology.

Thursday, April 14, 2005, 2:00 pm to 4:00pm, 56-114

Photo of Alan Levine

Why E-Learning Projects Tend to Fail

Shigeru Miyagawa, Professor of Linguistics and Kochi-Manjiro Professor of Japanese Language and Culture at MIT

In "Why the E-Learning Boom Went Bust," Robert Zemsky and William F. Massy observe that the great excitement of e-learning in the 1990s has given way to a "pervading sense of disappointment." E-learning developers in the 1990s had fully embraced the spirit of the dot.com bubble: long on promise and short on delivery. While I agree with their assessment, the reasons Zemsky and Massy give -- and the solutions they propose -- are not very helpful in guiding us to real solutions to real problems. I will attempt to identify some specific problems with e-learning development and diffusion, problems that are independent of the dot.com bubble/bust. They are based on my own experience and from teaching "Media, Education, and the Market Place." I will cover the following topics:

About the Presenter
Professor Miyagawa is Professor of Linguistics and Kochi-Manjiro Professor of Japanese Language and Culture at MIT. He was on the original MIT committee that proposed OpenCourseWare and presently serves on both the OCW Advisory Committee and the MIT Council on Educational Technology.

Recent Crosstalk Events

Thursday, March 11, 2005, 2:00 pm to 4:00pm, 10-105.

Photo of Alan Levine

Crosstalk Seminar - Jackalopes, Ocotillos, Learning eXchanges, RSS, and Other Arizona Learning Technology Curiosities

Alan Levine, Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction (MCLI)

The Arizona desert is a land of extremes and curious creatures that have adapted to these conditions. No, this is not an ecology lecture, but an overview of some of the research and development in learning technologies from the Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction (MCLI). The MCLI supports the 10 colleges of the Mariposa Community Colleges, which provides education for more than 240,000 people per year in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Some of the curiosities covered include:

As far as the "jackalope" you will have to show up to see that creature.

About the Presenter
Since 1992, Alan Levine has been an Instructional Technologist in the Maricopa Center for Learning & Instruction, located at the district office for the Maricopa Community Colleges in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona. With degrees in Geology (none in computers!), he is completely a self-taught techie and has managed to teach computer animation classes as well.

He coordinates system wide technology task forces, such as "Ocotillo", consults with faculty on integrating technology, and develops special projects in multimedia and web technologies. His projects include on-line tutorials such as "Writing HTML", "How to be a Webhound", "What a Site!"; Learning English Electronically CD-ROM; online application/review systems for internal faculty grants and faculty professional growth programs, web resources such as "Community College Web", "Multimedia Authoring Web", and "Director Web"; and innovative projects such as the "Hero's Journey" storytelling web site.

A more recent project is the Maricopa Learning eXchange (MLX), online virtual warehouse of innovation at Maricopa as well as recent experimentation with weblogs, wikis, RSS, digital storytelling, and "social" technologies.

Although he tends to say "ummm" a lot and never uses a script, Alan has presented at the League of Innovation, EDUCAUSE, and Syllabus conferences, as well as invited presentations for institutions in Oklahoma, Florida, Oregon, Ohio, British Columbia, Iceland, New Zealand, and Australia.

In his spare time, Alan enjoys backpacking, bicycling, photography, and escaping to a cabin in Strawberry, Arizona. In 2000, he spent a 6-month sabbatical working and visiting colleagues in northern Arizona, New Zealand, and Australia and was invited back November 2004 for a visit to colleges in the Auckland area.

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Thursday, February 17, 2005, 2:00 pm to 4:00pm, 56-114 .

Prof. Hai Ning

Teaching Design-Oriented Learning with Tablet PCs

Dr. Hai Ning

Design-oriented learning requires tools that support creative processes and student-to-student and student-to-faculty interactions. While most present E-Education systems perform as the asynchronous distribution channel for teaching material, they usually offer little support for project based design processes.

This research maps out the key learning events in design classes at MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering, and proposes guidelines for building E-Education systems to support the unique characteristics of design-oriented learning. Two creative learning processes are identified and two independent, yet tightly related, software systems are implemented and evaluated. The first application, the Peer Review and Engineering Process (PREP), is a web system that helps instructors and students conduct and manage peer review evaluation of design concepts. The second is a real time application called InkBoard that leverages the Tablet PC and Ink medium to provide real-time collaborative sketching over TCP/IP networks. A new streaming network protocol for transferring Ink objects is proposed and implemented. A comparative study against other ink-enabled protocols is also presented.

About the Presenter
Dr. Hai Ning is an IT professional experienced in the fields of information systems, learning technologies and service-oriented platforms. Currently, Dr. Ning works as an independent consultant specialized in business IT strategy and business intelligence technology implementation. He was a lead researcher at the Intelligent Engineering Systems Lab for over six years during his stay at MIT. He led research projects including the RobotWorld joint effort by Microsoft and MIT, and the Agent Simulation Program funded by the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center.

Dr. Hai Ning obtained his Ph.D. degree in Information Technology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2004. He also has a Master of Science in Architecture Study degree from MIT, a Bachelor of Architectural Design degree, and a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science, both from Tsinghua University in China.

Inkboard – Tablet PC Enabled Design-Oriented Learning (MS Word document)

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Thursday, January 20, 2005, 2:00 pm — 4:00pm, 4-237

Prof. Rutledge Ellis-Behnke

Paperless Classroom

Rutledge Ellis-Behnke
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences

This project is the systematic replacement of paper by tablets for the students as well as the replacement of the chalkboard for the professor. We are attempting to understand the limiting factors associated with the use of this technology on a daily basis. To this end we are recording reliability, usability and the increase in learning that is derived from the use of Tablet PC’s. We are also attempting to measure the fundamental shift required to eliminate paper and to create instantaneous access to the information for the students. This will serve to increase the speed of learning.

We started with two highly visual classes, Neuroanatomy and Mandarin. We then extended Tablet PC’s to include special projects in various other subjects, such as Biomedical Engineering, Health Science and Technology, Business and a class at the University of Hong Kong Medical Faculty.

I will present what we have learned, plus new ways to use Tablet PCs in education. In addition, I will provide the data to show that not only was there an increase in course material delivered but also a dramatic increase in learning was achieved. Some of the Results to be discussed and illustrated at this presentation are:
For the students:

1. Increased interactions with teaching assistants - the amount of time spent making paper copies and maintaining websites will be reduced so they are able to spend more time interacting with students.
2. Increased access to information on-demand
3. Decreased back strain from carrying an entire collection of notes and books
4. Use of color
5. ncreased student-student interactions concerning course work
6. Guidelines for how much time it takes students to become proficient in a particular type of material presented in a class

On campus:

1. Increased efficiency of knowledge transfer with more interactive lectures
2. Color figures will be delivered to the students without a 20-fold increase in copying cost
3. More conversion of course material to digital format: faculty will increase their use of electronic delivery of lecture material, using PowerPoint, AVI files, and audio files for demonstrations.
4. There will be a reduction in cost of AV equipment since multimedia demonstrations can be done on the computer in PowerPoint without the need for a tape deck, mixers, movie projector, overhead projector, and the disruption caused by the transition to each of these machines during class.
5. Enrichment of course content will be easier for faculty.
6. More course material will be available on the web.
7. Less time will be spent on clerical work.
8. Online office hours for students will increase faculty-student interchanges. E-Tablets will allow quick drawings to be used in these interchanges.

About the Presenter
Rutledge Ellis-Behnke, PhD, is part of the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the past he has held positions as a Senior Vice President of a public consulting company and various other positions in companies culminating in a CEO position before returning to school to pursue a PhD. His Ph.D. is in the field of Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience from MIT. Also, he received an AMP/ISMP from the International Senior Managers program at Harvard Business School and a B.S. from Rutgers University in New Jersey. He is a member of Society for Neuroscience (SFN), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), BioMatrix - MIT/Sloan/Health Science Technology Biotech mentoring program and is on the committee for Harvard Business School Health Industry Alumni Association. Rutledge is also a member of the MIT Graduate Alumni Advisory Committee. In addition to his work in CNS regeneration he has introduced the Tablet computer to the classroom at MIT as part of the migration to the paperless classroom and the delivery of all course material and texts to the students digitally.

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Thursday, November 18, 2004, 2:00 pm — 4:00pm, 4-321


Augumented Learning Through Augumented Reality

Eric Klopfer
Director of the MIT Teacher Education Program


The growing sophistication of mobile technologies brings with it the power to introduce new learning environments and experiences. The most powerful uses of handheld technologies require working with their limitations and affordances. The PDA is best used to present an extra layer of data to supplement information that users receive from their real world context - such as readings from simulated instruments, interviews from virtual occupants of nearby buildings, or real life interactions with their classmates.

We have been building simulations on handheld computers that involve K-16 students in authentic activities such as large scale environmental engineering investigations, genetic data collection and analysis and epidemiological studies that track the progression of disease through populations. These simulations empower students with a new kind of learning as they try to harness technology to solve authentic complex problems. Currently we are not only developing new simulations (and distributing them to thousands of students and teachers via the internet), but also conducting educational research showing how and what students learn from these environments.


Eric Klopfer is the Director of the MIT Teacher Education Program, and the Scheller Career Development Professor ofScience Education and Educational Technology at MIT. Klopfer’s research focuses on the development and use of computer games and simulations for building understanding of science and complex systems. His research projects include StarLogo, a desktop platform that enables students and teachers to create computer simuations of complex systems, as well as location aware and participatory simulations on handheld (Palm and PocketPC) and wearable computers. Klopfer’s work combines the construction of new software tools with research and development of new pedagogical supports< that support the use of these tools in the classroom. He is the co-author of the book, “Adventures in Modeling: Exploring Complex, Dynamic Systems with StarLogo.”

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Thursday, November 18, 2004, 2:00 pm — 4:00pm, 4-321

(Beverages and dessert will be served. )


The Promise and Reality of Web-based Tutoring

Professor David E. Pritchard
Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics; Associate Director, Research Laboratory of Electronics
MIT Physics Department


Textbooks, Lectures, and most educational uses of the web are like broadcast radio: a message is prepared and broadcast, one can find out how many people are listening, but knowing that the message has been received remains elusive. In my view the great promise of the web is two way learning: individual responses for the student, formative and summative assessment for the teacher, and data and guidance to help the author improve the material and the pedagogy. Web-based intelligent tutors offer interactive tutoring for individual students, such as pedagogically useful responses to their wrong answers and hints and simpler subproblems upon student request.

Our research shows that one such tutor (see www.mycybertutor.com) teaches about twice as much per unit time as hand-graded written homework. Feedback from the students can reveal specific student mistakes and misconceptions, provide rich data allowing authors to improve their content, and show class difficulties on each problem for Just In Time Teaching. Our research shows that assessing the process of solution can give a far more accurate profile of student skills than can testing, allowing targeted remediatioin. Splitting the class into two groups that work the same problem after one group has been given a tutorial allows us to measure and improve the amount of learning per unit time from the tutorial. We are currently investigating why some pedagogies transfer several times more knowledge per unit of student time than others.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2004, 11:00pm — 1:00pm, Mezzanine Lounge (W20-307)

Educational Technology Trends: Plug and Play Educational Software

How will the innovative repository and learning systems being developed at MIT work with commercial products and other available tools? How far away are we from "Plug and Play" educational software? Come to this presentation for a view of the current state of the art and to learn about active work in this area.

Interoperability specifications such as those coming out of the Open Knowledge Initiative (O.K.I.) will allow new educational technologies to be more easily integrated with each other and with our growing campus infrastructure. MIT faculty and instructional staff will eventually reap the benefits of this trend when they can select and use their applications of choice and know that they can be integrated in useful ways with other current and future educational software applications and tools.

Giunti Interactive Labs, which provides content and learning & knowledge management services and products, will demonstrate their learn eXact Learning Content Management System (LCMS) product and discuss their recent collaboration with MIT as part of the O.K.I. project and as members of the IMS Global Learning Consortium. Giunti has recently begun to utilize O.K.I. Open Service Interface Definitions (OSIDs), in particular the Repository OSID, to more easily integrate learn eXact with various digital repositories of learning content that support the specification.

A representative from Giunti Labs will explain how they implemented O.K.I. OSIDs, and other interoperability specifications, into their product, and will discuss their market motivation for doing so.

The discussion will also explore how MIT might prepare to better leverage the diverse marketplace of educational software.

What is Crosstalk?

Educational change is underway at MIT!

The initiatives of the Council on Educational Technology and funding from sources such as Microsoft Research, the Alex and Brit D'Arbeloff Fund for Excellence in MIT Education, and the Mellon Foundation have energized faculty and stimulated numerous educational experiments. The broad goal of the Crosstalk Seminars on Educational Change is to share strategies, solutions, and issues related to transformation in educational practice through the use of information technology.

This seminar series is intended to provide a forum for engaging MIT Faculty and the larger MIT community in an examination of common themes and practices; presentations and discussions on model educational technology applications will be an important feature of these seminars.


To become more involved with Crosstalk

If you'd like to be added to the Crosstalk mailing list so that you can receive notices and communications directly, or if you have ideas for future presentations, please send email to edtech-requests@mit.edu.

Crosstalk Archives

Abstracts (some with streaming media) of Crosstalk events from previous academic years..



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