Disturbing the Educational Universe:
Universities in the Digital Age — Dinosaurs or Prometheans?

Report of the President
For the Academic Year 2000-01

President Charles M. Vest's annual report, which this year examines the impact of technology on higher education and assesses the future role of the research-intensive residential university.

© Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2005. To reprint or excerpt for publication, please contact Laura Mersky at mersk@mit.edu.


If there is one experience common to every university president in the United States during the past decade or so, it is being accused of leading institutional dinosaurs down a path to rapid extinction in a digital age. Peter Drucker has decreed it. Editorial writers have shouted about it. Alumni and trustees have stated it. Some of our own colleagues agree.

The issue is simply stated. Does the future of education, learning, and training belong to a new machine-based digital environment, or will the best learning remain a deeply human endeavor conducted person-to-person in a residential campus setting? I believe the answer is "Yes" — to both.

We are at the proverbial fork in the road where we should, and will, take both paths. There is not an ounce of doubt in my mind that the way we learn throughout our lives is and will continue to be profoundly influenced by the use of digital media, the Internet, the World Wide Web, and devices and systems yet to be developed.

We will inhabit continually evolving electronic learning communities, in which amazing new technologies will help us learn. Cognitive science, virtual environments, and new modes of interacting will all come into play in powerful ways. We will extend educational opportunities to people throughout the world in a more cost-effective manner. On-the-job, just-in-time learning will become the norm in many industries. And there will be new players in both the for-profit and non-profit educational domains.

But there is even less doubt in my mind that the residential university will remain an essential element of our society, providing the most intense, advanced, and effective education. Machines cannot replace the magic that occurs when bright, creative young people live and learn together in the company of highly dedicated faculty.

The residential research-intensive university will not only survive, it will prosper. If anything, its importance will grow as we continue to provide access to the brightest young men and women regardless of their social and economic backgrounds.

However, the residential university also will be enhanced by wise use of the new technologies. But every institution —new and old — must make some choices about the tactical and strategic role it will play in the digital age. There is not one grand solution. Indeed, I believe that it is too early to declare comprehensive positions and strategies. Rather, it is a time for substantial experimentation and calculated risks that will help us sort out opportunities and find effective paths.

I ask only two things as universities find their way in the digital age. First, our emphasis should be on one thing — the enhancement of learning. Second, from Day One we must build serious evaluation of educational effectiveness into our experiments.

As we undertake our experiments and developments, we must have some guiding visions. At MIT we have decided that one of our dominant visions is that of openness.


Open Course Ware

Consider the direct question "How is the Internet going to be used in education, and what is your university going to do about it?"

An answer from the MIT Faculty is this: Use it to provide free access to the primary materials for virtually all our courses. We are going to make our educational material available to students, faculty, and other learners, anywhere in the world, at any time, for free.

Why are we doing this?

The glory of American higher education is its democratizing reach. Its great landmarks— the establishment of land grant universities in the mid 19th century and the GI Bill at the close of World War II — spread knowledge and opportunity across our landscape on an unprecedented scale. As we have progressed from World War II to the age of the World Wide Web, we have built a system of higher education that is the envy of the world, and we have developed the Internet as a universal medium for rapidly distributing and accessing information. These forces must now combine to raise educational opportunity throughout the world.

The Internet will revolutionize all kinds of teaching and learning, and some of that will necessarily and appropriately be done in the for-profit world. But inherent to the Internet and the Web is a force for openness and opportunity that should be the bedrock of its use by universities.

Think about what a professor at a research university does. She works with her students and colleagues to discover new knowledge, shares those discoveries with the professional community through papers, seminars, and conferences, and brings it to the students in her classes. She is not only discovering the future through her research, she is bringing it right into the classroom, and using these new findings and insights to develop and refine the courses she teaches. The resulting course notes and outlines, reading lists, demonstrations, and assignments become the educational content that undergirds the actual pathways to learning — the discussions, debates, and discoveries that faculty and students engage in together.

We now have a powerful opportunity to use the Internet to enhance this process of conceiving, shaping, and organizing knowledge for use in teaching. In so doing, we can raise the quality of education everywhere.

The quality of education in universities and colleges across America has grown dramatically over the past 50 years, aided by outstanding textbooks and other formal educational materials produced by the faculty. In this century, a similar role will be played by sophisticated educational materials that will be commercially available in electronic form.

But the positive transformation of our universities came about even more through the young men and women who studied at our most cutting-edge institutions and went on to become faculty members at other schools across the land. They took with them the class notes, syllabi, and other materials they used as students and based their teaching on these materials - sampling, shaping, expanding, and improving them to fit their new contexts and students.

At MIT, we plan to speed this process to Internet time, by making the primary materials for nearly all of our 2,000 courses available on the World Wide Web, for use by anyone anywhere in the world. A new engineering university in Ghana, a precocious high school biology student in New Mexico, an architect in Madrid, a history professor in Chicago, or an executive in a management seminar down the hall at MIT will all find these materials freely and instantly available. Together they will build a web of knowledge that will enhance human learning worldwide.

The computer industry learned the hard way that closed software systems — based on a framework of proprietary knowledge — did not fit the world they themselves had created. The organic world of open software and open systems was the true wave of the future. Higher education must learn from this. We must create open knowledge systems as the new framework for teaching and learning.

In this spirit, MIT has asked itself, in the words of T. S. Eliot, "Do I dare...Disturb the universe?"

Our answer is yes. We call this project MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW). We see it as opening a new door to the powerful, democratizing, and transforming power of education.

We are pleased to have been joined by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in a partnership to launch MIT OCW.

Even as we gird our institutional loins to undertake this great adventure, the reaction to its announcement has been astounding. Some have likened it to the Gutenberg printing press and to the Great Library at Alexandria. This is a bit hyperbolic for my taste, but even as clear-eyed an observer as IBM's CEO, Lou Gerstner, recently stated to Wall Street analysts:

What do you think happened when MIT put its entire course catalog on the Net, for free? If that didn't send a shiver through the higher education system in the world, I don't know what will.

We have received messages and letters from all over the world. One writer, a faculty member at another U.S. university, said

As a boy, I used to get up early in the morning to watch "Mr. Wizard" on television, and I dreamed of a day when all university courses would be available on television for interested students. That day never came, but today I am delighted to learn that my vision was too limited and that MIT is at the vanguard of a new era in education.

Another message sums the dominant international reaction well:

What I saw from your initiative is the possibility of a major global upgrade of education - professors in the U.S. and around the whole world, including those in little Uganda where I am from, will be inspired and motivated to be on par with MIT standards. The students will demand it because they will have access to high-end quality education, giving them opportunities for a better life and better access to other opportunities.... This is global, and I would like to thank you for your generosity, for your commitment to education and not just to quality content but to designing an environment that fosters curiosity and joy in learning.

MIT's opportunity to serve society in this new way is immense and we are organizing the systems and the services to the faculty that will be required to meet these high expectations.

It is very important to note that the radical concept of MIT OCW evolved through the deliberations of a faculty-led study of MIT's role in Internet-based education. As we rolled out the idea and discussed it with the faculty, we encountered some unexpected reactions and learned some important lessons.

There had been some apprehension that many would argue that we would be giving away too much potential intellectual property revenue. In fact, this argument was voiced by only a few. Almost all of our faculty saw it as a way to enhance our service to society and to improve education world wide, goals they considered to be more important than revenue possibilities.

In those discussions, however, there were other strong concerns that any university undertaking such a project must recognize. First, the undertaking should not detract from resources and innovation in our on-campus education. (Indeed, I believe that MIT OCW will lead to enhancement of on-campus education.) Second, we must generate sufficient funding to provide a high level of service, making it as easy as possible for faculty members to convert their materials to a high-quality Web format. Together with our foundation partners, we are committed to meeting these important criteria, and also to developing concepts and systems that will aid other universities who may join in the open courseware movement.

Open Systems

Much of the discussion and prognostication about the future of education has been based on "distance education," thought of as a form or analog of business-to-consumer electronic commerce. In such a model, lectures would be delivered to large numbers of students over the Internet, or through some variant of videoconferencing. The idea of MIT OCW is different. It is more related to business-to-business commerce. It is a form of sharing among institutions. It is a form of academic publishing more than of teaching. It puts materials in the hands of others to use as they see fit.

If sharing and pedagogical openness are to become major forces, there must be systems and platforms to support it. Here too, I believe that the spirit of open systems and of LINUX should prevail.

MIT and Stanford, together with partners that to date include the Mellon Foundation, Dartmouth College, North Carolina State University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Wisconsin, are undertaking the Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI). This is a project to create an open-source system of web-based environments to support pedagogical sharing and the management of educational systems.

The project leader, Vijay Kumar of MIT, indicates that the primary goal of OKI is to design and develop an open and extensible architecture for learning management systems. OKI has other goals, but this is the foundation from which everything else springs. We intend OKI to become a community, a process, and an evolving open-source set of tools that will be of service to a very wide range of educational environments. If OKI is successful as an architecture, then it will inspire contributors to help us realize these other goals. It is ambitious and important.


The new media enable us to reach out to the world and extend our learning community by teaching at a distance. They also enable us to bring the world in to our students on campus. Often, we arrive at an amalgam of the two.

MIT has for some time been engaged in so-called distance education. For example, our Sloan School of Management conducts ongoing seminars with management faculty in leading Chinese universities, and our System Design and Management program uses advanced videoconferencing and the Web to teach masters-level students in their work places around the country.

Last year, Andrew Lo of the Sloan School taught his popular course on investments to twenty eight Merrill Lynch directors, vice presidents, analysts, and associates in offices in Japan, Hong Kong, and Australia. With students with very busy professional schedules located in several countries, it would have been nearly impossible to conduct the classes and discussions simultaneously. Instead, Lo's formal lectures were made available on CD-ROM, which the students could use anywhere - on commutes, at home, or during non-trading hours at work. Faculty provoked discussions and answered questions, and students "met" with each other and the teaching staff at all hours —by e-mail, on the Web, and through a more primitive technology: the telephone. Despite their demanding schedules, the students committed themselves to 14 weeks of very hard work; what they got in return was an immersion course in global business as well as financial engineering.

The largest MIT experiment in distance education is the Singapore-MIT Alliance (SMA). MIT has worked since 1998 in partnership with the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to develop world-class, research-based, highly interactive graduate engineering education across national and institutional boundaries. Students earn SMA-based graduate degrees from NUS or NTU through access to exceptional faculty and superior research facilities in all three institutions.

Walk into one of MIT's state-of-the art classrooms at 8:00 a.m., or at 8:00 p.m. this fall, and you will find students engaged in classes together with their counterparts in Singapore. Indeed, we are planning to beam 540 hours of instruction in 12 subjects to a total of 155 students. SMA subject areas range from advanced materials for micro- and nano-systems to manufacturing systems and technology to molecular engineering of biological and chemical systems. We believe that SMA, which is supported by a 155-megabytes-per-second Internet-2 line, is the world's most technologically advanced point-to-point synchronous educational program. It uses a dual-screen delivery technology that enables students to view simultaneously camera images from the classrooms and a computer screen for displaying PowerPoint presentations. This technology also makes it possible for MIT faculty to hold help sessions for the students and conduct oral examinations of doctoral students in Singapore.

Learning — not technology — is the goal of SMA. How is it going? Singapore and MIT students enrolled in the same classes are performing at comparable levels, but professors do report that there is a very steep learning curve for preparing and presenting lectures across these boundaries. Fortunately, however, they also report that in a modest amount of time they reach a point at which the technology ceases to dominate their planning and they are able to concentrate on educational quality.

Through these and many other experiments, we are extending our learning community by teaching outward from our campus in both synchronous and asynchronous modes — carrying MIT to the world.

But what about bringing the world inward to our primary students — those in residence on our own campus? Interesting examples have been developed in our School of Architecture and Planning, where our students use technology to interact with people and projects around the world. For example, student design projects are routinely evaluated by juries of distinguished architects on several continents, whose schedules would not allow them to convene here in Cambridge. They have monitored the progress of large international construction projects such as the new Hong Kong Airport. One term, a class was team-taught by Professor Bill Mitchell at MIT and architect Frank Gehry in Santa Monica, with Mayor Jerry Brown of Oakland, California, serving as the client for a project to design a reuse of an abandoned naval base.

Many other examples could be found throughout the Institute and across academia.


Scientists and engineers learn in laboratories as well as in classrooms. MIT professor Jesús del Alamo has developed WebLab, a novel on-line laboratory for conducting experiments to test microelectronic devices - a lab that is available to students 24 hours per day from their dorm rooms or elsewhere. Last fall, 120 students at MIT enrolled in three different courses and 20 students in Singapore performed remote measurements in real time on state-of the art devices located at MIT and at Compaq's development laboratories. At its busiest hour, WebLab handled 13 users running 99 different experiments.

WebLab has nucleated the development of a broader tool, I-Lab, which will ultimately be used for experiments in many different fields of study. "Bringing the lab to the student" has proved to be a great way for students to explore theory versus experiment as they study.

In the same spirit, the World Wide Web increasingly brings library resources to users wherever and whenever they need them. Some of this has become simply routine, but other aspects are in a fascinating stage of development.

Welcome to DSpace: an effort to capture, archive and distribute much of the intellectual output of MIT in the form of durable digital documents. It sounds simple. It is not, because while libraries know well how to manage books and papers, they are just starting to learn how to create and maintain digital libraries. Some of the challenges are technological, but the most difficult challenges derive from the profoundly different copyright environment that is emerging in the digital world. More about that later.

A more common vision is that of bringing a high-quality learning experience to students wherever and whenever they need it. There are many activities of this kind around the country, but a major effort at MIT has been directed to the development of PIVoT, the Physics Interactive Video Tutor. PIVoT enables students to adapt the use of course materials to their own learning styles. It includes the video segments that comprise the entire lecture set of our introductory physics course, a complete textbook, and a set of linked demonstrations and practice problems.

Students can readily navigate through the material by selecting topics or key words. A "personal tutor" monitors the student's path through the material and his or her performance on problems in order to make suggestions about areas to investigate or reinforce. Early indications are that the use of PIVoT does not lead to higher scores on basic tests, but appreciably improves conceptual understanding.

The level of expense and effort to develop such a tool, however, reminds us that in the long run we will need to find ways to share resources among institutions and rely on appropriate commercial development as well.

So much for laboratories and libraries. What about lectures? University campuses are replete with stunning lectures, performances, and events that should be shared beyond our boundaries. In our case, the demand for such access is especially strong among our alumni/ae and among engineers and managers in industry. To begin to bring such events to these and other constituencies, our Center for Advanced Educational Services (CAES) has joined forces with our Alumni Association and our Industrial Liaison Program to establish MIT World.

MIT World is a website that makes available on-demand videos of events on our campus. Indeed, our intent is for it to evolve into a 24-hour-a-day TV station on the World Wide Web. Currently it contains such events as lectures by linguist Noam Chomsky; economists Paul Samuelson, Bob Solow, and Franco Modigliani; physicist Frank Wilczek; biologist Eric Lander; planetary scientist Maria Zuber; space scientist Claude Canizares; and many others. Like MIT OCW, this is a means of sharing our intellectual largess with a broader community, and is an example of what we believe many universities will develop as well.


Despite our status as a research university with global reach, our first duty is to the education of the students on our campus, and it is to this that the vast majority of our energy, resources, time, and innovation are directed. Technology has an increasingly important role in this core endeavor. In addition to bringing the world and its information resources to the desktop of each student, it makes possible new methods of teaching and learning.

Does the shibboleth that we should "replace the sage on the stage with the guide on the side" point to the future of university education? The jury is still out, but I believe that, by and large, that is the case. Prudent use of technology enables faculty to concentrate more on the learning process and less on the direct transmission of information. We are proud of the many exceptional lecturers on our campus. They inspire students and organize knowledge wonderfully. But there is increasing evidence that other, more flexible modes of teaching can better stimulate discovery and improve understanding of conceptual material.

A major endeavor in the use of studio learning at MIT is spearheaded by TEAL/Physics, led by Professor John Belcher. TEAL stands for "Technology Enabled Active Learning," and it will be used this fall to teach our electricity and magnetism course. Taught in newly designed facilities, its first goal is to reintroduce hands-on experiments into the large freshman introductory subjects; its second goal is to more fully and actively engage students in the introductory courses than is possible with a strict lecture format. This concept was pioneered at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and at North Carolina State University.

In studio teaching, lectures, recitations, and hands-on laboratories are merged into a single experience. Students work together in groups of nine per table in a specially equipped classroom. They make heavy use of computer simulations and visualizations. White boards are always available for impromptu discussions or explanations. Video projection screens make it possible to present and share materials in both impromptu and formal ways.

We will carefully evaluate performance in these classrooms and compare it with how students do in traditional lecture courses. How does an institution foster and support major innovations like this? The answer is simple: Make funds available to those faculty members who want to reform or improve education and who have good ideas they want to try out. Our experience is that such funding will catalyze rapid progress, even in an institution with a long-standing commitment to teaching and learning.

We are fortunate to have established two such funds in addition to the resources that individual schools and departments provide. The first is a generous endowment established by Alex and Brit d'Arbeloff to promote excellence in MIT education. The second is a major program called I-Campus established by MIT in partnership with Microsoft. Both programs enable faculty, students, and staff to submit proposals that are judged by a committee of educators. Ten percent of the budget for each d'Arbeloff-funded project must be set aside to support careful evaluation of its effectiveness, and all I-Campus projects must have an assessment component in order to receive funding.

Currently the d'Arbeloff Fund supports fifteen projects, most associated with improvements of the freshman-year experience. They range from TEAL/Physics to a freshman project in solving complex problems. Last year, the freshman project — Mars 2000 — explored the design of a mission to Mars to determine whether life exists there, drawing on many experts from outside MIT who acted as mentors and resources to the student teams. The results— in terms of intensity, engagement, and learning — appear to have been spectacular. Other funded projects ranged from pedagogical initiatives in basic mathematics to innovative advising and tutoring systems. Note that not all of these initiatives involve new uses of technology. The emphasis is on learning and on improving the student experience.

Similarly, the Microsoft I-Campus program currently funds thirteen projects that utilize computer technology to enhance learning or to effectively manage educational systems. These projects run the gamut from on-line teaching modules in electrical engineering, computer science, and fluid mechanics to collaboration at a distance in aerospace design courses. It funds work on cross-media archives to be used in teaching Shakespeare studies, and has enabled students to develop a wireless system for instantaneous interaction and feedback in the classroom, including real-time assessment of understanding.


As higher education — and the world at large — begins to develop new tools for the digital age, it encounters many unanticipated obstacles, mostly stemming from our litigious society and regulators straining to regulate something quite new and different.

For example, one large corporation recognized that the tools embodied in PIVoT could be used to help pass along hard-earned "know how" to new generations of engineers and managers. The idea was simple: to establish a tutorial web site on which experienced "masters" would record their experiences, approaches, and life lessons regarding engineering and managerial problems. Newer staff could then gain an in-depth understanding of the craft through this professional "oral history."

This concept is excellent, and the goal is important in an age when fewer people devote long careers to a specific company or industry. In the end, however, it didn't fly very well. Why? The senior people were afraid that they would be the subjects of lawsuits if they recounted honestly mistakes of the past.

Or consider the issues associated with a library archive project like DSpace. If a traditional library owns a book, it can make that book available to anyone it chooses — library subscribers, students of the university, or anyone it lets enter its building. A library can do this because, as owner of that book, it has "first copy rights": i.e., it can not only read the ideas contained in the book, it can offer them to anyone else.

However, today's digital materials do not generally afford such "first copy rights." Instead of "subscribing" to an electronic database, we "license" access to it. The original owner thus has far more control than with the traditional printed book. For example, a publisher can tell the library to whom it must restrict access. This flies in the face of the traditional openness of academic libraries.

How did this state arise? It is simple — the entertainment industry and its interests have guided the development of legislation that governs electronic media. A meaningful set of changes and exemptions must be worked out in Washington if digital libraries are to realize their promise for research, scholarship, and education.

Of course, one of the hottest questions in academia is who owns the intellectual property when a faculty member produces electronic teaching materials. We are all struggling with this, and certainly no uniform approach has evolved across U.S. colleges and universities. The question is complex because the potential forms of electronic teaching materials are complex. At MIT our policies are evolving, but are becoming more concrete.

Normally when a faculty member writes a book, he or she simply owns the copyright and can independently assign it to a publisher. The institution plays no role in this. But electronic educational materials may well not simply be a book in digital form. They may capture the essence of our classroom or laboratory experience. They may be highly interactive. It may be unclear whether they comprise teaching or publishing. They may be very time consuming and expensive to produce. How do we resolve this?

Insofar as possible, we are building our policies on the foundation of the basic mission of the institution, and what we expect of a faculty member in pursuit of that mission. We exist to discover and teach and to enable our faculty to achieve full, unfettered dissemination of their intellectual property. But we also expect their appropriate commitment of time and effort to this mission. We have long-standing processes for avoiding conflicts of commitment. Faculty should not enter into contracts with outside parties that would constrain their teaching or scholarly responsibilities at MIT. They also cannot disseminate intellectual property that impairs the rights of others associated with it.

The Policies and Procedures of MIT basically indicate that MIT owns intellectual property if "substantial" MIT resources were used to generate it. This will frequently be the case when sophisticated digital teaching materials are developed. But by no means is the matter cut and dried. Time and experience will be required to establish sound understanding and application of these policies.


In this essay I have tried to portray some of my views on the nature of research universities in the digital age. I find it to be a time in which educational experiments large and small must progress, and sense that it is a time in which a deep recommitment to effective teaching and learning is evolving. I have illustrated some of the phenomena by citing a few of the activities underway at MIT.

It seems to me that the vector of these activities points to what we should expect during the next decade or so: increasing collaborative activities and electronic learning communities, on both national and international scales; the development of tutorial and studio teaching, enhanced by digital tools; production of advanced simulations and visualizations; the development of sophisticated platforms for sharing Web-based materials and for managing the educational enterprise; a myriad of devices and programs for interaction; and, I very much hope, the establishment of an OpenCourseWare movement to enhance education around the world. It must be a time of experimentation and risk taking. We must conceive and implement some very large-scale projects, and also make modest modification to existing ways of teaching.

This is a picture of somewhat chaotic, intellectually entrepreneurial evolution, as opposed to overwhelming revolution. That is in the spirit of the Internet and the World Wide Web that are the bases of much of the opportunity before us. But it is important to note that the technology must serve us as educators and learners, not the other way around. The concept of appropriate technology holds. It runs from a simple wireless Personal Response System (PRS) that allows students in a lecture hall to respond to a faculty member's query about their understanding of a concept to the Internet-2 connection that makes it possible for students in MIT and Singapore to have a shared, simultaneous learning experience.

Indeed, our rather revolutionary MIT OpenCourseWare initiative is based on relatively straightforward technology. The users of MIT OCW, for the foreseeable future, will mostly reduce its content to paper form, or use it as the foundation of lectures and seminars.

Looking beyond the relatively near horizon, however, is difficult. Why? Largely because the technological platforms will continue to evolve at blinding speed, and there will inevitably be discontinuous changes and surprises.

I would particularly look to the use of new interfaces and means of human-computer interaction, which can take simulation and interactive learning to the next level. This is part of the goal of Professor Hiroshi Ishii's "Tangible Bits" group in the MIT Media Lab. Their goal is to communicate digitally mediated senses of activity and presence at the periphery of human awareness. For example, they are developing workbenches, walls, and rooms in which ambient light, sound, airflow, and water movement can display information.

Through these and other advances, the learner's interactions with his or her surroundings will soon involve all five senses, as the environment itself displays, receives, and conveys information in a myriad of forms. As they strive to understand basic concepts and learn to design or synthesize information in new ways, students will navigate virtual space and time.


Now I return to the central question.

I believe that universities like MIT are making steady progress in using emerging electronic technologies to enhance and extend learning. But we must separate the wheat from the chaff, and we can only do this by keeping focused on the real objective — learning. We should not use these technologies just because they are there, or only because we see some potential revenues associated with them.

Above all, we must evaluate our educational experiments and new approaches in order to understand whether they improve learning. Evaluation is key. Understanding what doesn't work is as important as recognizing success.

Some of our experiences with long-distance collaborative design and mentoring were not successful. This was because we had not invested sufficiently in the use of expert technical operators of the videoconferencing systems. On the other hand, the simple Personal Response System has been used very effectively.

Two years ago, when Alex and Brit d'Arbeloff established their extraordinary fund to support improvements in the excellence of education at MIT, we held a daylong program of talks, proposals and brainstorming about teaching, expecting that people would focus on advances that could come from the use of digital media. Interestingly, digital media received almost no attention that day. The faculty and students were concerned about more fundamental goals and concepts. Nonetheless, in due course, many good proposals were made to this fund, and also to the Microsoft I-Campus initiative, that use electronic media and devices to improve pedagogy.

The real lesson of the MIT experience with educational technology, in my mind, is that it has forced us to rethink the educational process. Faculty engaged in these new approaches do believe that they have become better teachers — but not so much because of the technological extensions of their capability but because the process of designing the programs forces them to think in fresh ways about ancient techniques.

Thus we come full circle to the essential human quality of teaching and learning. It is our minds, our sharing spirits, our insights into our students, our quest to improve what we do, and our passion to explore new horizons that drive the quality of teaching and learning in a research university.

But we can do better in the future than in the past. That is the simple definition of progress, and this progress will be driven in part by new technological possibilities.

We are not dinosaurs. We are Prometheans.

Our progress will be driven by competition as well. Others, driven by emerging technological and market forces, will increasingly challenge our leadership in education. I welcome this, because a healthy mix of competition and cooperation fuels excellence.

We have new opportunities to form educational alliances across distance, time, institutions, and nations — alliances that will expand opportunity, learning, and understanding. This, too, I celebrate, because we and our students must be citizens of the world as well as of our own countries.

However, the energy, passion, and inventiveness of our residential students, together with an environment that combines research, scholarship, and teaching, is our greatest source of renewal and our greatest strength.

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