Internal Journal

The final report of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Online Education Policy Initiative presents findings from discussions among the members of the Institute-wide initiative supported by advice from the advisory group. The report reflects comments and responses received from many sources, including education experts, government education officials, and representatives of university organizations.

The Online Education Policy Initiative’s discussions described in the report represents only the first step in a continuing dialogue. The initiative set out with the goals of presenting a cohesive report on challenges and opportunities across the interacting subfields of education research, engaging in the public discourse surrounding the practice of online education, and influencing policy and policymakers to create a welcoming environment for educational innovation. The authors invite the EducationXPress Community to provide feedback and reflect on the ideas laid out in this report in the comments section below. 

View the full report

Imagine sitting in a lecture hall and hearing the phrase, “prepare Golgi membranes from CHO 15 B1 cells after infecting them with VSV.” Can you visualize the process or molecular components involved? If you are an experienced biologist, then you likely performed an experiment similar to this, or at least are familiar enough with the ideas that you have no problem forming a picture in your brain of what this procedure would involve. Most of our undergraduate students are not experienced biologists, however, and have only a year or two of biology experience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) when entering classes that discuss experiments at this level of detail. Most of the biology core courses do not have an associated lab component; therefore we need to develop teaching strategies to best support students learning these experimental concepts. During the fall of 2014, we, the MITx Biology team [1] partnered with Professors Frank Solomon and Adam Martin of the Department of Biology to create videos addressing experimental design to enhance the undergraduate learning experience in the sophomore-level cell biology course (7.06).

The Learning Sciences and Online Learning Symposium is focused on how online learning might help meet the persistent challenges that discipline-based educational researchers have identified in teaching within their disciplines. In preparation for the symposium, participants were asked to reflect on three questions that will serve as the central themes for the symposium activities. The following represents one of the three prompts provided to participants.

What gaps exist in supporting community and providing for community interaction?

Common challenges (mentioned more than once) emerging from participant responses are listed below. A full text version of this summary including responses by respondent number is available for download. Responses fell into two categories—one focused on learning experiences and the other focused on the intersection between learning sciences and online learning.

The Learning Sciences and Online Learning Symposium is focused on how online learning might help meet the persistent challenges that discipline-based educational researchers have identified in teaching within their disciplines. In preparation for the symposium, participants were asked to reflect on three questions that will serve as the central themes for the symposium activities. The following represents one of the three prompts provided to participants.

What gaps exist in helping students understand threshold and difficult to learn concepts, or to prevent/correct common misconceptions?

Common challenges (mentioned more than once) emerging from participant responses are listed below. A full text version of this summary including responses by respondent number is available for download

The Learning Sciences and Online Learning Symposium is conference focused on how online learning might help meet the persistent challenges that discipline-based educational researchers have identified in teaching within their disciplines. In preparation for the symposium, participants were asked to reflect on three questions that will serve as the central themes for the symposium activities. The following represents one of the three prompts provided to participants.

What unique and different opportunities are afforded in online and digital environments?

Common affordances (mentioned more than once) emerging from participant responses are listed below. A full text version of this summary including responses by respondent number is available for download.

While online education has been transforming the field of education in recent years, the lack of access to such resources in many parts of the world has received relatively little attention. In this paper, we examine the lack of infrastructure in the developing world for accessing video-based online learning, showing that there does exist a large infrastructure gap in broadband connectivity that will prevent online video-based education from reaching more than a small percentage of the worlds population for decades. We analyze the potential of mobile devices and mobile broadband as channels to provide access to a larger audience, noting that the large file size of video is a key barrier preventing video-based online learning from reaching the mobile-connected users. Finally, this paper proposes a software based solution: ”e-lessons” - files which provide a 20-30 minute long Khan Academy-like learning experience offline and on mobile phones in less than 5 megabytes - and outlines the technologies used to achieve this.

Our study investigates the effect of hybrid courses and reading articles on the   scientific literacy of biomedical engineering students. About 100 advanced undergraduate and graduate students participated in one or two of the courses titled From Cell to Tissue and Tissue Engineering. The courses required active participation in the face-to-face lectures, as well as weekly participation in asynchronous forum discussions on state-of-the-art scientific articles. Research tools included pre- and post-questionnaires and analysis of students’ forum discourse. The questionnaires focused on three scientific literacy skills: question posing, identifying the canonical research article structure, and suggesting subsequent experiment design.

It is our pleasure to welcome you to EducationXPress, the publishing and community platform for those interested in advancing digital innovation in education.  While much has been written about technology-driven education, it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between the hype and thoughtful, research-based practices and outcomes.  While there are those in the field that have been doing educational technology for thirty years or more, recent applications including MOOCs have certainly invited a far more diverse audience to the conversation – traditional educators representing a range of content disciplines, data analysts, learning theorists, information architects, and the list goes on.

 

This course is an introduction to moral and political philosophy. It explores classical and contemporary theories of justice, and applies these theories to contemporary legal and political controversies. Topics include affirmative action, income distribution, same-sex marriage, the role of markets, debates about rights (human rights and property rights), arguments for and against equality, dilemmas of loyalty in public and private life. The course invites students to subject their own views on these controversies to critical examination.
       —from the JusticeX syllabus

Justice is an introduction to moral and political philosophy, including discussion of contemporary dilemmas and controversies.

ER22x was offered as a HarvardX open online course in Spring 2013 on edX, a platform for massive open online courses (MOOCs). It was taught by Professor Michael Sandel.

The term “copyright system” encompasses three levels of material: theory (the arguments, drawn primarily from economics, political theory, and philosophy, concerning why and how the law should regulate uses of expressive materials); doctrine (the rules currently in force concerning uses of expressive materials and the ways in which those rules are typically interpreted and applied); and practice (how those rules affect various fields of art, industry, and culture—literature, music, film, photography, journalism, software design, architecture, fashion, comedy, games, and so forth).

CopyrightX is an online course on Copyright Law. The course explores current copyright law and the ongoing debates concerning how that law should be reformed. Through a combination of pre-recorded lectures, weekly seminars, live webcasts, and online discussions, participants in the course examine how law seeks to stimulate creative expression.

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