Last year with the advent of MITx, the Call for Preliminary Proposals in Fall 2012 focused on projects that explored ways in which online learning experiments can help MIT faculty teach in the MIT residential educational system. Projects that spanned multiple subjects were encouraged, as was the development of modules to be used within a subject or across subjects. Current projects include:
Enhancing Residential Design Learning with a Web-enabled Approach
The MIT course 2.007 “Design and Manufacturing” has a long history of teaching MIT students core engineering skills in a context wherein they can express their creativity. This project is an initial step in exploring the connection of 2.007 and MITx. Most existing MIT subjects can be transitioned to Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) formats at roughly the effort of developing a new course. 2.007 “Design and Manufacturing” is a more difficult entity to scale on the internet, but that it is possible to do and worth the extra effort. It will create a distinction and competitive advantage for MIT in this space. This project wants to hold firm to the principle that every student getting the “2.007 experience” should design and build a robot. This is done via a residential experience with a well-equipped lab and supervision of skilled lab technicians, but this project's hypothesis is that it can be done in a very different way connecting CAD, “art to part” means of production, and a web of design advising. This project is intended to develop, over the next two years, some key ingredients that will improve the residential experience and will setup an expansion through MITx in a year or two.
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Establishing a Writing Fellows Program in Biological Engineering
Eric Alm, Agi Stachowiak, Jaime Goldstein
The project “Establishing a Writing Fellows Program in Biological Engineering” responds directly to the urgent need to bolster writing instruction within Biological Engineering. Graduating seniors in Biological Engineering identified written communication as the weakest aspect of their undergraduate training in the most recent exit survey: nearly half reported that their writing had not improved during their MIT studies. The Writing Fellows program will use peer tutoring to enhance the undergraduate learning experience. The project adds value to the residential experience for our students by increasing the level of face-to-face interactive instruction, and thus complements efforts to expand MIT’s reach via MITx/edX.
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Global Hamlets in Performance: An Online Learning Module
Peter Donaldson, Diana Henderson, Shankar Raman
This project builds on the work of the Global Shakespeares Video and Performance Archive (http://globalshakespeares.mit.edu) and the Global Shakespeare Curricular Initiative at MIT (Professors Donaldson, Diana Henderson, Shankar Raman, Janet Sonenberg and Jay Scheib). MIT has become an international leader in moving the Shakespeare educational community toward global models through these projects.
Most recently, the Global Shakespeare Project has created an online module on the highly-regarded actor/director Wu Hsing-kuo's one-man show version of King Lear. (http://globalshakespeares.mit.edu/modules/module/lear-is-here/). This is the first-ever online module in Shakespeare education to use video authoring tools and has now been successfully used at MIT and at George Washington University. The project have learned a great deal from the King Lear module, and with revision it will become one of a series of online modules that will lead to a full semester subject that can be used throughout the world.
An MIT Revolution in the Undergraduate Teaching of Neuroscience and Cognitive Science
James DiCarlo, Michale Fee, Laura Schulz
The Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences is undertaking a major revision of its undergraduate curriculum and culture of teaching. The most recent visiting committee identified weaknesses in our educational program as the primary problem to be addressed by the incoming department leadership. There were three key issues: 1) the degree of overlap in the material covered across classes; 2) the failure of upper level classes to build on introductory material and progress to more advanced topics, and 3) a lack of quantitative rigor, leaving students inadequately prepared for advanced coursework.
The challenge is to show how undergraduates can be deeply educated in: key phenomena about the mind and the brain, quantitative methods for describing the mechanisms that underlie those phenomena, the procedures by which we discover new phenomena and new mechanisms, and the myriad connections of that knowledge with fields including physics, biology, engineering, mathematics, linguistics, and economics. Concomitant with this curricular challenge, the project will establish a culture of excellence in teaching within our department, similar to the successes of other great MIT departments.
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Second Nature: Designing Low Power Environmental Sensor Networks
Sheila Kennedy, Joseph Paradiso
This project explores the conceptual, technical and physical design of low power environmental sensors and wireless networks in urban areas. The course will focus on how sensor networks are transforming global efforts in natural resource conservation, and in the preservation of natural ecologies in traditional and rapidly growing cities and urban areas. Second Nature is an exploratory, interdisciplinary project-based course that is founded in the MIT credo of mens et mana. Organized as an interdisciplinary lecture class with a “hands-on” workshop component, Second Nature will enhance the educational experience of undergraduate students in a unique project-based course that integrates the cultural and historical contexts of architecture and urban design thinking with the fabrication of technically advanced sensor based design projects for environmental monitoring and the next generation of environmentally responsible infrastructure.
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