Open Education at MIT: Inside the Gallery of Educational Innovation
May 19, 2011
Though several institutions around the world have significant caches of OER (Open Educational Resources), few have embraced them as much as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT. Among their many contributions to the OER world is the Office of Educational Innovation and Technology's Gallery of Educational Innovation (GoEI), which hosts open projects that aim to improve education worldwide. Here are a few of the projects you can find at the GoEI.
iLabs allows students to conduct remote experiments in fields like chemical engineering, signal processing and microelectronics. Via iLabs, experimenters use the Internet to access servers in various laboratories on the MIT campus. Those servers contain middleware that connects users with physical lab equipment they can operate from their home computers. MIT's currently working on developing iLabs into a tool that can be used worldwide.
Math CI Space
MIT's Math CI space was created jointly by mathematics and communications professors. It's an open-source tool that allows educators who teach communications-heavy math classes to share their practices, ideally developing them communally over time. It uses the popular Wordpress blogging platform in order to facilitate an ongoing conversation between interested instructors. It also archives class materials like lectures and assignments.
Speaking of math instruction, MIT's Mathlets program was developed to help students in challenging differential equations courses, which 85% of all freshmen and sophomores at MIT take. Mathlets contains applications and sample problems that allow students to connect the material they've learned in class with concrete examples. This archive of applications is used in lectures or as the basis of homework assignments.
NB PDF Annotation Tool
The NB PDF annotator is an open-source program that allows students and instructors in reading-intensive courses to share information directly through assigned texts. Those on either side of the classroom can make notes on digital documents that then appear for all to see, creating a collaborative discussion located on the text itself. The NB (or 'nota bene') tool has been especially helpful in eliciting participation from students who might not speak up in class.
Spoken Lecture / SpokenMedia
Spoken Lecture and SpokenMedia are two ways that MIT archives the content of their courses. They host full videos of campus lectures, as well as transcriptions of those lectures, thereby creating a searchable database of information. Spoken Lecture and SpokenMedia are but two aspects of MIT's massive selection of OCW (OpenCourseWare).
The Star Sciences
Finally, MIT's GoEI hosts a number of scientific applications prefaced with the word 'Star': StarBiochem, StarBiogene, StarGenetics, StarHydro and StarORF. These are pieces of open software designed to help students with common problems in various fields. For instance, StarGenetics simulates mating between two individuals in order to predict genetic traits, while StarBiochem software allows for in-depth analysis of molecules.
How are other institutions digitizing and archiving information?