Center for Advanced Educational Services

On June 30, 2003, the Center for Advanced Educational Services (CAES) ceased to operate as a separate MIT unit. The most recent form of CAES, the Center for Advanced Educational Services, was born on September 1, 1995, from the assets of the original CAES – Center for Advanced Engineering Study. Over eight years, the CAES team built together key MIT assets, starting from two focus units in 1995 (ASP and MVP) to eight focus units: Advanced Study Program (ASP), MIT Video Productions (MVP), Center for Computational Computing Initiatives (CECI), Professional Institute (PI), Educational Media Creation Center (EMCC), Streaming Media Compression Services (SMCS), MIT World, and Learning International Networks Consortium (LINC). Some of these units were started from scratch within CAES; others were from acquisitions or mergers.

The good news is that each of these eight units survives the CAES transition. Not only does each survive, seven have become central to MIT core educational missions. ASP and PI are now part of the Dean's Office of the School of Engineering, ensuring their high priority secured status going forward. MVP, EMCC and SMCS now comprise AMPS, Academic Media Production Services, reporting to the Provost and central to MIT's growing capabilities in production of technology-enabled educational products and services. CECI, larger, stronger and more pivotal than it was in 1995, is central core mission to MIT due to the recommendation for that status from MIT's CET (Council on Educational Technology). MIT World is the world's largest and most visible freely available university-based video-on-demand site, with over 120 of MIT's finest public lectures and presentations available for streaming viewing anywhere in the world. Given priority by the Provost, MIT World is now supported by each of the five deans of MIT, with additional support from the Lord Foundation of Massachusetts. With each of the seven CAES key units now safely in secured homes, there is no need for a separate 'holding company' center as CAES had been designed.

LINC, the youngest of the activities at less than two years old, is the only focus unit not yet MIT central core mission. LINC will remain with Professor Richard Larson, who will nurture it from infancy to adulthood.

In looking over the past eight years, all of the dedicated professionals who worked for CAES have much to be proud of. In 1995, little attention was paid to technology-enabled education at MIT. The World Wide Web was very new and undeveloped. CAES was then far from central core mission for MIT. There were no advanced technology classrooms, no PIVoT video tutors, no SMA, no MIT World, no I-Campus program, no CMI, no MITCET, no OCW, no OKI, no Gil Strang on-line video lectures, no Stellar. Those who worked with CAES through all of those years helped to bring to the rest of the MIT community the importance of technology-enabled education. Many MIT people helped to bring about the current strengths of MIT in technology-enabled education, and much of this started in Building 9 at CAES. Indeed, technology-enabled education was the focus of a very recent annual report by MIT President Charles Vest.

So, this is news of transition, but transition to strength, growth, and re-dedication to excellence. For those of you who have been, over the years, key advocates of CAES, we all thank you sincerely. We are looking forward to new adventures ahead.

CAES Highlights

The legacy of CAES runs deep throughout the educational technology environment of MIT.

Contributions to OpenCourseWare

CAES has assisted OpenCourseWare (OCW) in its initial launch in both content and people. One of the most popular web sites on MIT's breakthrough OCW program, as of June 30, 2003, was Professor Gil Strang's videotaped lectures on Linear Algebra. CAES secured funding to create these videotaped lectures (from the generous support of the Lord Foundation of Massachusetts) and then produced the videotapes, digitized them and placed them on the web. Videotapes of MIT Physics Professor Walter Lewin's lectures for MIT subjects 8.01 and 8.02 (Newtonian Physics and Electricity and Electromagnetism, respectively) were supported from CAES-secured funds from Atlantic Philanthropies and the Lounsbery Foundation. These lectures too are about to become part of the freely available OCW website. The OCW-accessible subject, Logistical and Transportation Planning Methods, was created with CAES-secured support from the Sloan Foundation. This site contains animations, simulations and a 550-page textbook and was among the first 30 OCW subjects placed on the web. During the year, Ms. Laura Koller changed from her senior project management responsibilities in CECI to the key position of Project Manager of OCW. And Elizabeth Derienzo, senior video content producer at CAES, is now a faculty liaison person in MIT's OCW program. In summary, CAES has played a major role in creating the course web sites and educational materials for early releases for OCW and in providing talented professional staff.

International Distance Learning

CAES can reflect on other pioneering efforts as well. In the early days of CAES, 1996-1997, when there was no international distance learning at MIT, CAES initiated synchronous distance learning via video-conferencing overseas—to Latin America. Over a period of two years, we provided certificate professional courses to lifelong learners in Chile, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil and Peru. While this effort did not persist, it provided a fertile ground for understanding what was involved with overseas synchronous distance learning and positioned MIT well in the following year for its full immersion into the Singapore-MIT Alliance—with its 40+ courses taught live across the Pacific using videoconferencing.

Right to this last year, CAES continued its international outreach in distance learning. Proudly, CAES designed and created the first-ever MIT certificate programs for students of the African Virtual University, situated in Nairobi, Kenya. The course was given with three technologies—videotaped lectures presented to students in AVU learning centers (with tutors present), live lectures delivered to the learning centers via satellite from the CAES TV studio and on-line help from MIT PhD teaching assistants via email. CAES provided two offerings of a Java programming language course to over 300 distributed learners in six Sub-Saharan African countries. Tracy Pierce and Carol Sardo took the production lead in this effort with Professor Steve Lerman and Dr. Jud Harward being the instructors. The assessment and evaluation of this effort proved its highly perceived value to the recipients.

Research and Development

CECI, under Professor Steve Lerman's leadership, over these past eight years has had numerous successes in R&D related to educational technology. And it continues in this mode into the future as a stand-alone R&D laboratory. Among its major accomplishments are:

Modern Classrooms

Finally, the modern technology-equipped classrooms that support the Singapore-MIT Alliance live courses were conceived, designed and constructed under CAES guidance. We have lots to be proud of!

Our wonderful core staff

At the beginning of this past academic year, we had a strong dedicated central CAES staff. I am pleased to report that each and every one of them has found excellent employment elsewhere either on the MIT campus or in higher education in the greater Boston/Cambridge area. We have already mentioned Elizabeth Derienzo and Laura Koller (of CECI) moving to OCW. Other CAES staff members who were associated with one of the seven core programs are now situated with those programs in the new homes for those programs. Regarding other CAES central staff, I would like to cite the wonderfully professional contributions of

Janet and Carol are now with MIT's Office of Foundations Relations. Dianne is the administrative officer in MIT's Department of Nuclear Engineering. Tracy assumed a senior position in educational technology at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. Melinda is continuing as project manager for large web-based physician-oriented health care educational projects at MIT's Division of Health Sciences and Technology (Dr. Robert Rubin and R. C. Larson, PI's). Meg moved to OCW and CECI continuing as facilities manager and general purpose person who can help out on virtually any problem. Maura continues part-time (and part-time retired) helping with the finances of ASP and OCW.

In the remainder of this final CAES President's Report, we feature MIT World and LINC, the two activities that remained with CAES for all of Academic Year 2002–2003.

MIT World

MIT World ( was born at the Center for Advanced Educational Services (CAES) two years ago, after three years of planning and development work. The motivation was simple: public seminars and lectures comprise an important part of the richness of a campus-based university experience. Yet too few of us, even on campus, can see these lectures live – due to scheduling constraints for those on campus and due to travel and logistical constraints for others. MIT alumni in particular were asking for some meaningful way to 'stay connected' to MIT. With the growing acceptance of the web as a means for informing, at CAES we started a process of examining how we could get the best of MIT's public lectures and seminars onto the web. Finally, with the support of the MIT Alumni Association, the Industrial Liaison Program, the Provost's Office and the Lord Foundation of Massachusetts, MIT World is a reality. Ms. Laurie Everett has skillfully been MIT World's full staff contingent for its two years of operation. Laurie came to MIT with over 15 years of experience at WGBH.

MIT World is a free, open streaming media web site of the most significant public events at MIT. It features the most recent speakers and guests from across the campus and around the world. By tailoring the content selection to the "scientific attentive" and the "thinking public" it has grown to reflect a great deal about MIT and the world of ideas that are generated, discussed and analyzed every day on campus. It is fast becoming an essential intellectual offering, central to MIT's mission, with a total (as of June 30, 2003) of over 125 videos, growing at a rate of six to eight new videos per month. We are aware of no other comparable university-based service.

The videos on MIT World come from more than 33 individual sources at MIT, representing all five schools, and a wide range of labs, departments, centers, and programs. The site currently features twelve Nobel Laureates—Robert Horvitz, Wolfgang Ketterle, Kofi Annan, Franco Modigliani, Paul A. Samuelson, Robert M. Solow, Charles Townes, David Baltimore, John Hume, Seamus Heaney, Mario Molina and Eric Chivian.

The speakers on MIT World represent a broad range of academic disciplines. Physicists (Wolfgang Ketterle, Walter Lewin) are featured along with biologists (Eric Lander), bio-engineers (Robert Langer), economists (Lester Thurow, Olivier Blanchard), the CEOs of major US companies (Lou Gerstner of IBM, Carly Fiorina of Hewlett-Packard, Henri Temeer of Genzyme, Michael Dell of Dell Computers, Jeff Bezos of, experts in current world affairs (Kofi Annan, Scott Ritter, Lewis Branscomb), writers (Stephen Pinker, Anita Desai, Sylvia Nasar), poets (Seamus Heaney), and inventors (Doug Engelbart, Steve Wozniak, Raymond Kurzweil).

Without much 'marketing,' the number of visitors to the MIT World web site has grown significantly over the past year. From March 2002 to March 2003:

MIT World is uniquely positioned to serve a wide range of constituents. First, the producers of the events themselves are served by dramatically increasing the reach of each event, so that more people are able the view it. The lecture remains readily available in the archive. For example, the MIT Libraries and MIT Press Bookstore spent $600 to videotape the Steven Pinker authors@MIT event. In the 14 weeks following, that lecture was seen more than 3,000 times. From the point of view of the sponsoring organization, that's a 'cost per viewer' of only 20 cents. Adding typical speaker's cost of travel and lodging to that of videotaping, without the multiplying effect of MIT World, a typical seminar at MIT costs in the range of $20 to $50 per live audience member who sees the lecture. Adding MIT World to the 'content distribution model' can reduce the average cost per viewer to less than a dollar.

Audiences connected to MIT who are served include but are not limited to: MIT Alumni, Industrial Liaison Program members, faculty, students and staff at MIT (with particular value to those at Lincoln Lab), the Educational Council, MIT Parents Group, the Admissions Office, participants in MIT-related programs such as the Singapore/MIT Alliance, the Cambridge/MIT Alliance, and visitors to MIT's OpenCourseWare web site. Beyond MIT and its alumni, the general public is a major audience. The intellectually curious public looks to MIT as a source for original ideas about a wide range of issues that affect the world today.

MIT World is becoming required or recommended viewing at other institutions. Email from staff at a Fortune 500 firm indicates that the firm has placed MIT World on its employee intranet "technology learning site" under "free seminars". MIT World's web stats service reveals four examples of other universities assigning MIT World lectures.

MIT World is also a partner in the WGBH Forum Network. This forum, run by the nation's premier public broadcaster, hosts videos from educational and cultural institutions from the greater Boston area. MIT World has provided a small number of its videos to the WGBH Forum Network site. Visitors to WGBH's site are directed to MIT World to see more videos from MIT.

In the production process, MIT World utilizes the excellent services of three MIT units: MIT Video Productions (MVP), Digital Technologies and Streaming Operations (DTSO) and MIT IS/Web Communications Services (WCS). The first two units are parts of AMPS, Academic Media Production Services.

Here are some comments from visitors to MIT World:

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Learning International Networks Consortium

The Learning International Networks Consortium (LINC) effort is motivated primarily by a basic fact: the emerging world has tens of millions of very bright, highly motivated young people reaching college age each year and, with few exceptions, limited opportunities for them to receive quality education at the tertiary level. A typical fraction of their populations receiving tertiary education is 4 percent, in contrast to 40+ percent in Western industrialized countries such as our own. These young people, like ours, need to fulfill their potential by learning at the college and university level and then applying that knowledge constructively within their emerging countries – to achieve better lives for themselves and for their fellow citizens. Even if brick and mortar were no constraint, and hundreds of new college and university buildings could be constructed very quickly, the binding constraint is the lack of highly qualified teachers. It takes generations to grow cohorts of qualified teachers. But technology via e-learning and similar innovations can leverage a few good teachers to reach far more students. Mexico's Virtual University, ITESM at Monterrey Tech, is an exemplar of this approach.

LINC aims at becoming the premier community of scholars and practitioners who are focused on technology-leveraged higher education in emerging countries. LINC will share information, help make professional connections between and among participants and foster innovative programmatic initiatives that can be formally evaluated for their effectiveness. Scholarship and practical results are equally important. LINC does not seek to become a virtual university.

Since the Lounsbery Foundation became the first to support LINC in 2002, LINC has benefited from two additional grants. These are from the Morningside Foundation and the Lord Foundation of Massachusetts, each for $50,000. The grant from the Morningside Foundation is unrestricted. The grant from the Lord Foundation is to support one of LINC's key programmatic initiatives: sending MIT students, both African and non-African, to Africa during the summer to 'teach teachers' in information technology and e-learning.

First LINC International Workshop

A very successful two-day LINC workshop was held at MIT on February 6 and 7, 2003. A marathon schedule of thirty-two speakers, giving presentations on e-learning activities and projects in their respective countries and organizations, marked the opening day of the Workshop. The two-day event at MIT launched LINC at which 85 participants from nineteen countries discussed how to bring higher education to developing countries using distance-learning technologies. In addition to senior MIT faculty, policy makers from USAID, the World Bank, corporations and foundations, and international educational leaders met to discuss a common theme: how to spread the net of higher education to reach under-served populations globally. In addition to the United States, the countries represented were: Algeria, Armenia, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Japan, India, Ireland, Iran, Israel, Kenya, Mexico, Niger, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. Sixteen senior MIT faculty and staff participated and demonstrated educational technology projects.

A letter of welcome from President Charles Vest showed MIT's commitment to sharing its knowledge with the world and encouraging a rigorous exchange of ideas. President Vest said, "The themes of your presentations, panel discussions, and conversations are consistent with MIT's core educational activities and of great interest to us. During these two days, you will focus on how higher education in developing countries might be impacted through the leveraging of television and radio technologies and the Internet." He continued, "Your experiences with the ever-expanding dimensions of technology-enabled learning are invaluable to us, and we will be listening closely."

A common theme through the conference was an uncompromising enthusiasm for how distance learning, e-learning and educational technology can make a difference in the world to reduce the gap between those who have access to education and those who do not. A diverse gathering of people from countries with different outlooks and perspectives met at a time of political uncertainty to work for a common purpose. Professor Richard C. Larson, Principal Investigator of the LINC Project, stated, "The response of the LINC workshop participants has been overwhelmingly positive. We on the MIT convening team are thrilled. The participants all seem to want LINC to move to the next level as a unique community of practice to support higher education in emerging countries."

The presentations included developments regarding Virtual Learning at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology; Sharif Virtual University in Iran; in the Virtual University of Pakistan; the Syrian Virtual University; the challenges and prospects of the African Virtual University; distance learning in Armenia; E-Learning in China; Monterrey Tech's Virtual University; and the current state of distance learning in Algeria. Participants from different countries who met for the first time at the Workshop have already made travel plans to meet with each other and to design new international educational collaborations. For a complete list of the 32 title abstracts and speakers, see the LINC website,

On the second day, a panel of students showed four specific projects that, given sufficient funding, could be expanded to reach wider audiences globally. A private sector roundtable of five panelists demonstrated web-learning projects that gave wide access to educational material free and open to the public, and a foundation roundtable pointed to the ways that philanthropy can make a difference. Four breakout groups looked at the operational and financial needs of LINC and the vision for the future.

A formal survey evaluating participants' response to the workshop was administered and the results were overwhelmingly positive. The full results of the evaluation are contained in a pdf file that can be downloaded from the LINC website. (

As a result of the successful workshop, additional letters of support have been received or committed from Pfizer Corporation, the Virtual University of Mexico and from premier universities in China and Spain. This brings the total number of letters of support to 32. LINC continues to grow both at MIT and overseas. We are fortunate to have many student, staff and faculty volunteers at MIT who make it all possible. I thank them all for their strong dedication to service.

Richard D. Larson
Professor of Electrical Engineering


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