The Office of Digital Learning (ODL) works to transform teaching and learning at MIT and around the globe through the innovative use of digital technologies. Specifically, ODL:

  • Supports MIT faculty and students in bold experiments in digital teaching and learning to enhance residential education
  • Facilitates research on how people learn and on new technologies that might improve understanding, retention, and application of knowledge
  • Provides platforms for technological advances in education
  • Partners with companies, universities, governments, and organizations that wish to develop new learning capabilities and enhance the competencies of their workforce, students, and citizens
  • Extends MIT’s knowledge and classroom to the world

Digital learning technologies enable students to do more outside of the class so that class time can focus on deeper discussion, practical experiments, and other forms of active learning. Digital technology can deliver lecture content, provide students with rapid feedback, and engender more active reading and discussion through annotation tools. Digital platforms can also augment learning via visualizations, simulations, and games. These technologies further provide flexibility in course delivery, allowing students to access content anytime anywhere.

In 2012, MIT and Harvard launched edX, a not-for-profit digital platform that enables universities to leverage learning technologies. For teaching on campus, MIT uses a residential MITx platform. To reach students globally, MIT offers massive open online courses (MOOCs) on the edX platform.

On campus, more than 90 MIT instructors have taught over 120 courses using the residential platform. Between 30 and 50 MIT on-campus courses are using Residential MITx each semester for a substantial portion of their coursework.

Globally, as of summer 2016, MITx courses on edX had had more than 1.9 million unique participants from over 200 countries earning nearly 142,000 course certificates. In 2015–2016, MIT launched 22 MITx MOOCs and managed 48 rerun MOOCs that had been offered in prior semesters.

To further serve global learners, MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) offers free, open, publicly accessible web-based materials from more than 2,350 MIT courses, including more than 100 full video courses. MIT’s OCW site logged an average of 2.3 million visitors per month in 2015–2016. In addition, OCW offers Highlights for High School to better serve high school constituencies, and OCW Educator, aimed at helping educators understand more about how courses are taught at MIT.

This year, MIT began piloting a new academic credentialing program called MITx MicroMasters. This program allows online learners from around the world access to a series of courses offered by MIT faculty and lecturers via MITx. Learners who perform well in their online course work and on a comprehensive proctored exam will earn the MicroMasters credential. Students who perform exceptionally well in the MicroMasters program may then be eligible to apply to a full master’s degree program at MIT through an “inverted admissions” process that converts the students’ online work to MIT credit equivalent to one residential semester, allowing them to complete the remaining degree requirements in a shortened period on campus.