Welcoming Industry and Academia. This past
December, Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Susan
Hockfield (left) welcomed industry leaders, academics, government
officials, and international leaders to a symposium to discuss the
impact of technology in education worldwide, and the challenges
affecting technical education.
A Fruitful Partnership. Rick Rashid (left), senior
VP of Microsoft Research, noted that the
symposium marked the culmination of iCampus, work begun in 1999
in a partnership between MIT and Microsoft Research. The project’s
research has spanned numerous areas of innovation: course content
delivery, student-instructor interactions, pen-based computing, gesture
recognition, spoken-lecture processing, affective touch therapy with
robotic companions, cross-media annotation systems, remote online
laboratories, the use of kinetic memory in a constructive assembly
system, active learning environments for large enrollment courses,
and much more.
Renowned Presenters. Deep discussions were the
focal point of the conference, primed with presentations by thought
leaders including former Xerox Chief Scientist John
Seely Brown (left), who gave the opening keynote, “Relearning
Learning—Applying the Long Tail to Learning.” The agenda included
several other distinguished speakers and moderators; among them,
MIT Dean of Engineering Tom Magnanti, Council on Competitiveness President Deborah Wince-Smith, MIT President
Emeritus Charles Vest, National Science Foundation Office of Cyberinfrastructure Director Daniel Atkins, and University of
Michigan President Emeritus James Duderstadt.
Projects and Tools Galore. The participants enjoyed demonstrations of innovative projects and tools
created by the iCampus alliance. Researchers were on hand to demonstrate iCampus tools, discuss their research, and
offer hands-on experiences for attendees and press. The research has spawned projects like TEAL, iLab, XTutor, Huggable,
Topobo, iMOAT, XMAS, POSIT, iGEM, MICA, Magic Paper, and others.
Sharing Great Ideas. With the input from these high-powered speakers and
others, the complexity of the discussions, and the important questions raised, some
attendees commented in the open forums, “My head is about to explode!” But a key
objective of the symposium was to share the ideas and reflections of attendees, through
open discussions at plenary sessions, moderated panels, and facilitated discussions during
lunches. Toward the end of the symposium, Phil Long (left), MIT’s senior strategist
for the academic computing enterprise, gathered and displayed attendees’
perspectives via a personal response system—just one high-tech way to share!
Editor’s note: MIT’s Phil Long will moderate a plenary panel, “The eLearning Challenge:
How to Succeed Amid Endless Change,” with panelists Chris Dede (Harvard University, MA)
and Joel Smith (Carnegie Mellon University, PA), at Campus Technology 2007, July 30-Aug. 2
in Washington, DC.