Recap of the Big Things I did at work in 2012-2013


Similar to a year ago, here’s a list of the big things I accomplished at work from April 2012 to July 2013 that I originally wrote as part of OEIT’s contribution to the MIT President’s Report.

(My biggest project of the year was the Online Teacher Education Project which ran from June-September 2013. It was a doozy, I managed the overall project and produced three online video courses, three workshops, and a software tool. Also I’d managed the collaboration with the Massachusetts Community College’s around Advanced Manufacturing education.)


OEIT extended its collaboration with Mechanical Engineering and Professors Pedro Reis and Ken Kamrin to extend the work on i2.002 from the MIT Council on Educational Technology (MITCET) Modularity Experiments in 2011-2012. (In 2011-2012, i2.002 was taught simultaneously for students in Cambridge, MA and asynchronously to MIT students around the world. This MITCET Modularity experiment led to a modularization of the course and the video recording of all of the lectures, labs and recitations.) In 2012-2013 OEIT and Professors Reis and Kamrin continue to bring more technology enablements into 2.002: Mechanics and Materials II, a required subject in Course 2. This year, OEIT developed a prototype video concept browser to link the lecture videos recorded in Spring 2012 with key concepts in mechanics and materials to enable students to find specific video segments to suit their needs. Students are able to easily find the 10 minute segment on a particular concept amongst a sea of hour and a half long videos. OEIT will be further developing the technology and using it in additional classes beginning in Fall 2013. In addition, OEIT worked with the faculty to develop “Virtual Office Hour” videos, in which the teaching assistants developed video segments to help students get started on problem sets, just as if they had attended a virtual office hour. This new experiment began to explore how a “traditional” MIT subject might develop technology enhanced support for fully online or hybrid courses. i2.002 is an example of the collaborative relationship that OEIT develops with the faculty with which it works; and demonstrates a commitment to a long term experimentation to evolve MIT subjects.


OEIT continued to collaborate with 3.003: Principles of Engineering Practice providing web support to enable the course’s collaboration with a similar course at the University of Tokyo in Japan. 3.003 students at MIT use the course website to access special lectures by MIT and University of Tokyo faculty. And the course website documents the progress MIT students make on the class project. As the University of Tokyo term begins two months after MIT (April versus February), University of Tokyo students use the website as a sort of class diary to understand the work that MIT students have already completed to help launch their class. The collaboration is capped with a site visit in which MIT students join their University of Tokyo peers in Japan for a joint symposium.


OEIT collaborated with D-Lab Energy and D-Lab Design to enable real-time participation by D-Lab students located remotely (in Brazil) with the classroom in Cambridge, MA. As part of its continuing expansion, in Spring 2013, two D-Lab students who normally would have attended class in Cambridge, MA were able to study abroad in Brazil. D-Lab approached OEIT for assistance in supporting real-time participation of these remote students in a non-traditional learning environment.

Most of the infrastructure at MIT that supports video recording and video conferencing assumes a presentation-mode delivery or, whether it is in a Level 5 classroom or a departmental conference room. Cameras are typically fixed on the presenter at the front of the room, and it is usually only lecture theaters with fixed seating that have audience cameras. The D-Lab requirements included the ability to conduct both a traditional lecture with both whiteboard and projected computer display, with small group activity with a team distributed between Cambridge, MA and Brazil in the same physical space at the same time. The D-Lab pedagogy has instructors moving from presentation-mode to collaboration-mode throughout the course of any given class session. OEIT’s challenge was to work with D-Lab to provide the best experience possible, and do so on a limited budget.

OEIT collaborated with D-Lab to use consumer-level USB video cameras, MIT’s WebEx subscription and a laptop to originate the lecture video feed and also simultaneously use Skype and a separate laptop/iPad. The configuration worked to enable real-time participation by the remote MIT students, further work is necessary to improve the experience, and allow for team members from multiple teams to remotely participate from multiple sites from around the world.

iCampus Prize

OEIT, on behalf of the MIT Council on Education Technology, awarded the grand prize of the 2013 iCampus Student Prize competition to Aakanksha Sarda, ’14 for WhichClass an online exploration tool to make it easier for students to filter classes, and visualize connections between classes within and across departments to help take subjects of interest to the student. And the competition recognized Abubakar Abid ’15, Abdulrahman Alfozan ’15 and Aziz Alghunaim ’15 for the development of Lounge, an electronic platform that speeds up and automates dorm room assignments, while giving dorms the flexibility to preserve their individual housing traditions. The 2013 competition saw eight submissions and resulted in five first round winners, the grand prize winner, and a runner-up. Endowed from the iCampus research collaboration between Microsoft Research and MIT, the iCampus Student Prize is an annual competition that recognizes the innovative and creative application of technology that improves living and learning at MIT.

OEIT worked with Danny Ben-David, ’15 during 2012-2013 to further develop his 2012 iCampus Student Prize project CourseRoad, a website that allows students to map out their classes through their undergraduate careers, as a service for MIT students.

Kinected Experiences IAP Workshop

OEIT continued to collaborate with Microsoft to host the second annual Kinected Experiences Workshop during IAP in January 2013. Kinected Experiences is a series workshops to help MIT students get started developing for Kinect for Windows, Windows Phone and Windows 8. It provides MIT students the opportunity to learn about the technologies and receive mentoring from experienced developers to help launch or refine their own projects. Microsoft and OEIT use these experiences to encourage students to develop their own apps for mobile devices, or programs. OEIT is working with Microsoft to develop a hardware loan program to seed further development of Windows-based apps and applications.

iOS IAP Workshop

OEIT initiated a collaboration with Apple to host an inaugural iOS Workshop during IAP in January 2013. The iOS Workshop introduced MIT students to developing iOS apps. As part of the collaboration, OEIT received a donation of hardware from Apple to seed continued development of iOS apps as part of organized classes, special workshops or for individual development.

Embedded Assessment

OEIT is developing a set of tools and infrastructure to enable MIT faculty to embed any assessment (e.g., quiz questions or concept questions for formative feedback) in any web accessible content. As OEIT has been collaborating with MIT faculty it recognized that faculty needs are beginning to revolve around continuous formative feedback especially as MIT faculty “flip” their classrooms and develop more online content to support their subjects.The embedded assessment tools allow instructors and authors to embed assessments directly in any content thereby providing a richer learning experience.

Here are two use cases to illustrate the potential of the tools and services. OEIT has been working with Aero/Astro faculty who have developed a comprehensive set of lecture notes. As part of their course redesign efforts, they are switching to a “flipped” classroom model in which they require students to read the lecture notes and complete the embedded assessments before coming to class. These faculty use embedded assessment to gauge student understanding before they meet with students in class, allowing the faculty to tailor the course to address any misunderstandings or unclarity. Also, consider the case of OpenCourseWare that is a static publication of MIT course materials. OpenCourseWare could be extended by embedding assessments, using questions and problems that already exist in the course materials, as live assessments directly in course pages. This has the potential to extend the value of OpenCourseWare and enable the self-learners using OpenCourseWare to better check their mastery of the materials.

It is worth noting that OEIT’s technical approach differs from current practice used by learning management systems and other tools because existing tools require one of two things: either a system that presents both content and assessments together as part of a typically complex and fully integrated system or a system in which the learner is required to leave the content to take an assessment in a separate quiz system breaking the flow of learning. The approach OEIT is taking enables assessment as a service allowing any assessment to be embedded in any web-accessible content freeing the faculty to design the learning experiences they want.

Concept Map Authoring Tool

OEIT is developing a Concept Map Authoring Tool which is a web-based tool that enables MIT faculty to design and develop concept maps of their courses. This project is part of the MIT Core Concept Catalog (MC3) suite of tools that enables MIT faculty to easily interact with the core infrastructure services provided by OEIT.

Online Teacher Education

OEIT is collaborating with MIT faculty to develop aspects of online teacher education courses that highlight the pedagogies favored and developed by MIT faculty. Over the last few years, OEIT has had discussions with a number of private foundations and governments to help develop and online teacher education program. These discussions have paralleled an interest by MIT faculty to develop such a program for MIT.

OEIT received a grant from the Education Development Center (with U.S. Agency for International Development funding) to prototype aspects of an online teacher education program (for Pakistan) based on the teaching techniques and approaches used by MIT faculty. These courses, currently under development, will highlight: Games and Simulation-based Learning, the use of Mathlets (applets highlighting mathematical, engineering and physical principles), Visualizations (for learning), Best Practices in Teaching and Learning, and a digital learning toolkit highlighting best practices for online learning. In addition the project is developing tools to enable faculty to design and develop concept maps along with a back end supporting infrastructure. OEIT and the MIT faculty participating in the project plan to use these courses and tools after the close of the project to conduct additional online teacher education.

Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training

OEIT, on behalf of the Office of Digital Learning and MIT, is taking the lead in developing collaborations with community colleges that includes curriculum development (in areas such as advanced manufacturing and entrepreneurship) and online learning (using edX and other MIT/OEIT developed technologies). The curriculum will also reflect MIT’s philosophies to blend online/virtual with hands-on learning.

OEIT collaborated with Lumen Learning and six community colleges led by Southside Virginia Community College to submit the Manufacturing Advantage grant proposal as part of the third round of Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) funding. The proposal, if successful, will see OEIT and MIT collaborating to develop and deliver blended courses in advanced manufacturing in collaboration with the project’s community college partners. These courses will draw upon MIT’s content strengths, pedagogical approaches, and the tools and platforms developed by MIT.

OEIT is beginning a collaboration with the Transformation Agenda, the collaboration of 15 Massachusetts community colleges that received Round 1 TAACCCT funding. OEIT’s discussions with the Transformation Agenda have revolved around working with them to develop blended courses in advanced manufacturing in collaboration with the community college partners in Massachusetts.