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Carnegie Mellon U Launches Simon Initiative To Improve Learning Through Science and Tech

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has launched the Simon Initiative, a program designed to improve student learning through the use of science and technology.

The goals of the program, according to a CMU news release, include data sharing, helping teachers teach, "accelerating innovation and scaling through start-up companies" and "improving the campus-based learning experience."

As part of the initiative, the university has launched the Global Learning Council (GLC) and will create "a data bank consortia (that) will collect and store thousands of high-quality data sets, accumulate the best analytic methods available and create a large research community enabled to improve education through empirical research," according to information on the initiative's site.

"The launch of the Simon Initiative will be accompanied by the introduction of a new seed funding mechanism at CMU, providing opportunities for all activities related to the initiative across the university," wrote Subra Suresh, CMU president, in an email message to the university community. "With the enthusiastic endorsement and participation of the leadership of all the schools and colleges within CMU, this effort will seek to accelerate innovation and research to further enhance learning outcomes. The Simon Initiative will also coordinate campus-wide activities with the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation, the Science of Learning Center jointly administered with the University of Pittsburgh and funded by the National Science Foundation, the Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative (OLI) activities, and other organizations on campus to connect research on learning with CMU courses and the on-campus experiences of students and faculty. Through the Simon Initiative, the university will create further strategic links between learning research and the development of new technology, products and entrepreneurial activities."

The Global Learning Council, chaired by Suresh, will bring members together virtually to improve communication between key education and technology constituencies, develop standards, ethics, and practices to promote collaboration and understanding around learning and technology, and identify areas of focus and strategies for action.

Other members of the GLC include:

"An important step in the use of technology in online education is to develop rigorous methods and standards for learning outcomes," said Anant Agarwal, president of edX. "The Global Learning Council created by Carnegie Mellon University is made up of thought leaders in technology-enabled learning. At edX, we are committed to fostering quality education, and I am honored to work with the council to develop innovative approaches to improving learning outcomes."

More information about the Simon Initiative is available at cmu.edu/simon.

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