C-Level View :: December 13, 2006

Worth Noting

Symposium at MIT Celebrates Seven Years of iCampus Research

Demonstrations of iCampus tools

Demonstrations of
iCampus tools

A symposium attended by invited industry leaders, academics, government officials, and selected international leaders on December 1-2 at MIT featured moderated discussions on the impact of technology in education worldwide and the challenges affecting technical education, with demonstrations of innovative projects and tools created by the Microsoft MIT iCampus alliance.

The symposium, “Learning without Barriers/Technology without Borders” marked the culmination of 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.

John Seely Brown

John Seely Brown

Researchers for projects like TEAL, ILab, xTutor, Huggable, Topobo, iMOAT, XMAS, POSIT, iGEM, MICA, Magic Paper, and others were on hand to demonstrate iCampus tools, discuss their research, and offer hands-on experiences for attendees and press.

Deep discussions were the focal point of the conference, primed with presentations by thought leaders including former Xerox Corp. Chief Scientist John Seely Brown, who gave the opening keynote, “Relearning Learning – Applying the Long Tail to Learning.”


Open discussions

Open discussions

The agenda included several other distinguished speakers and moderators, among them, MIT Dean of Engineering Tom Magnanti, Senior Vice President for Research at Microsoft Rick Rashid, Council on Competitiveness President Deborah Wince-Smith, MIT President Emeritus Charles Vest, MIT President Susan Hockfield, National Science Foundation Office of Cyberinfrastructure Director Daniel Atkins, and University of Michigan President Emeritus James Duderstadt.


Phil Long

Phil Long

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 the attendees, through open discussions at plenary sessions, moderated panels, and facilitated discussions during lunches.

Towards the end of the symposium, MIT Senior Strategist for the Academic Computing Enterprise Phillip D. Long gathered and displayed attendees’ perspectives via a personal response system.


Conference in Atlanta Shows Progress of Sakai CLE

Community source proponents from some 144 institutions met this past week in Atlanta for the 6th Sakai conference to discuss tools, user experiences, pedagogy, implementation, technical points of the Sakai Collaboration and Learning Environment, and their visions for the CLE and the growing Sakai community.

The 6th Sakai Conference with OSP (Open Source Portfolio) included Community, Implementation, Pedagogy, Technical, and Tool Carousel tracks, punctuated with keynotes, demonstrations, and special sessions like an open discussion with Blackboard counsel Matthew Small and Software Freedom Law Center Chairman Eben Moglen (read our coverage of that session here) about the SFLC’s request for re-examination of a Blackboard patent. More information and links to conference audio can be found in the Sakai conference and confluence pages. Reflecting that Sakai is an international organization – participants came to Atlanta from 13 countries – the next Sakai conference will be held in Amsterdam, June 12-14, 2007.

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