Current Projects

The Call for Preliminary Proposals in Fall 2014 focused on enhancements of subjects in the first-year curriculum and within the General Institute Requirements (GIRs), and projects aimed at fostering faculty participation in the educational experiences of undergraduates, especially freshmen, in and beyond the classroom. Projects that spanned multiple subjects were encouraged, as was the development of modules to be used within a subject or across subjects. The Dean for Undergraduate Education, Dennis Freeman, and the Director of Digital Learning, Sanjay Sarma, offered additional support for projects aimed at introducing online components to MIT classes, including modules to be used within a subject or across subjects as distinct from efforts to develop classes for EdX. As a result, a number of proposals were supported from other sources. Proposals receiving d'Arbeloff funding include:

"The Meaning of Life"

Graham Jones, Heather Paxson, Stefan Helmreich

"What is the meaning of life?" This is a question of singular importance to college students, young adults who are immersed in new experiences and influences, making critical existential decisions about their professional aspirations, personal relationships, and social values. MIT students come to this question from an especially diverse range of cultural, national, ethnic, and class backgrounds. This project will design a new Anthropology class that addresses these issues directly, foregrounding the relevance of the humanistic social sciences to our students by spotlighting topics of universal concern — love, faith, wealth, honor, etc.

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A Multidisciplinary, Service-Oriented, Project-Based Course in Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities

Robert Miller, John Leonard, Julie Greenberg, Grace Teo, William Li

Principles and Practice of Assistive Technology (PPAT) was founded in 2011 by Professor Seth Teller (1964-2014), who taught it for the past three years as a subject in EECS. Under his leadership, student teams worked closely with a person with a disability in the Cambridge/Boston area to design and engineer technological solutions that help them accomplish a specified task. To sustain its vision in the long term, we will extend PPAT into a truly multi-department, multi-disciplinary effort. We are deeply, personally committed to sustaining and extending assistive technology education at MIT. We have assembled a dedicated, enthusiastic team of faculty members and instructors from across the Institute to make PPAT possible in 2015 and beyond.

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Stronger Collaborative Skills: Helping MIT Students and Faculty Identify and Strengthen Basic Collaboration Skills

Eytan Modiano, Jennifer Craig, Qinxian Chelsea Curran

Designed for an MITx platform in order to enhance the residential experience, the online module, Stronger Collaborative Skills, can be used as either a stand‐alone module that allows students to review and strengthen their collaborative skills or as part of an academic course assigned by an instructor as part of the curriculum. Targeted at first­‐year students, the module includes 5 chapters that are based on research done with students and faculty in Course 16 in 2008. The chapters include brief discussions of decision-making, conflict management, project management, the role of interpersonal skills, and guidelines for high quality collaborative writing and presentation.

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