When Aya Khalifa came to MIT from Egypt for her master’s degree in chemical engineering, she adapted well to a new education system thanks to Class 10.MBC (Math Boot Camp for Engineers). This online resource was developed by the MIT Digital Learning Lab (DLL) and the MIT Department of Chemical Engineering for first-year graduate students who might need a refresher on the math skills needed for their core courses.
“It exposed me to different ways of solving problems,” Khalifa says, adding that the resource was a “huge win” for his academic progress. She first took the course over the summer before her program officially started, but she also used the Math Boot Camp for Engineers to revisit concepts throughout the semester.
This MIT online resource is now also available as a massively open online course (MOOC) to any learner in the world. By serving learners on MIT’s campus and online, DLL advances quality digital learning initiatives within the Institute and extends MIT’s teaching and knowledge globally.
Digital learning on campus and beyond
The DLL, a joint program between MIT Open Learning and MIT academic departments, is comprised of academic staff and postdocs who collaborate on innovations in digital learning. Through their combined expertise in their respective departments and innovation in instructional design, DLL staff promote the latest discoveries in learning sciences and educational technologies to develop and update courses.
“The DLL team is doing so many cool things: creative, practical, and informed by the best evidence in teaching and learning,” says Christopher Capozzola, senior associate dean for open learning. “Whether introducing cutting-edge technologies and ideas into classroom teaching or working alongside faculty as thought partners in the development of new courses, programs and projects, they bring a academic and digital agility unique to each MIT department. »
Over the past decade, DLL has grown to encompass all aspects of online learning research and deployment. Faculty work closely with digital learning scientists to integrate digital technologies into educational design and practices. MITx course and MITx MicroMasters programs for everyone and on-campus courses for MIT students. MITx Online courses embody the rigor and quality of MIT residential courses, and MicroMasters are accredited programs that can help individuals accelerate and save on costs for their master’s degree. By trying to identify the most effective teaching methods, the Digital Learning Lab ultimately discovers how to better support online learners and MIT students.
Khalifa says the material she learned at Math Boot Camp for Engineers was relevant to her core courses, including 10.50 (Analysis of Transport Phenomena) and 10.65 (Chemical Reactor Engineering). “I had no difficulty solving math equations even though there was already new content to learn in the course itself,” she says.
This was the outcome the chemical engineering department hoped for when it first contacted Joey Gu MS ’16, PhD ’19, lecturer and digital learning scientist in chemical engineering, to improve the first-year experience graduate student semester. Gu collaborated with department leadership, faculty, and graduate students to develop the first iteration of 10.MBC for summer 2020. Today, the Math Boot Camp for Engineers is comprised of six active learning modules, self-guided, self-paced courses that cover different math topics. Students can complete the modules in any order, depending on their needs, identified by a diagnostic quiz.
“I liked the ability to take the course at my own pace and at my own pace,” says Khalifa, adding that she thought the platform was “very user-friendly.” She found it helpful that the concepts were broken down into several short instructional videos, as opposed to hour-long lectures.
Immediacy was key to his online learning experience. “I wasn’t waiting for an instructor to give feedback,” says Khalifa. “I solved the problem right then and there, got the answer and the explanation of the correct answer. I really appreciated this as a student.
Share the latest advances in online learning
As pioneers and current leaders in the design of open online courses, digital learning scientists publish research in the areas of learning sciences and in their respective academic fields. They speak at conferences, lead workshops, and share their ideas and innovations with MIT faculty and the broader learning community.
This semester, Mary Ellen Wiltrout PhD ’09 and Jessica Sandland ’99, PhD ’04 serve as general chairs for the 2023 edition. IEEE Conference on Learning with MOOCs (LWMOOC) which will take place October 11-13 at MIT. LWMOOCs is an international forum for academic and industry professionals to discuss the latest advances in MOOCs. This year the conference will focus on blended learning with an emphasis on key topics such as strategies and opportunities for implementing open online courses in today’s world, using these courses to increase educational opportunities for more learners, particularly those facing a lack of opportunities, and impacting blended learning. sustainability education. The conference returns to campus for the first time since its inception in 2014.
“Ten years ago we were talking about individual, self-contained online courses, but now there’s more interest in exploring a variety of different educational spaces that attempt to use online modalities to make the education more accessible and affordable,” says Sandland, a lecturer and digital learning scientist in materials science and engineering.
Participants will also have the opportunity to participate in workshops on AI in education and inclusive teaching, and learn evidence-based practices from experts developing and managing MOOCs and other courses online open.
“We want to highlight the case studies, research and frameworks of those who create, manage or study MOOCs so that the community can learn from each other, thereby evolving the field,” says Wiltrout, director of initiatives mixed and online, speaker and scientist in digital learning in biology and has managed more than 100 MOOC courses since 2013.
Through their participation in LWMOOCs and their own research at DLL, MIT digital learning scientists have been at the forefront of best practices in online teaching and innovations in online learning. line. “There is a whole world of potential learners and potential knowledge to be gained,” says Sandland. “The more we understand this, the more we can create rich learning experiences for all kinds of different learners.” »