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Symposium at MIT Celebrates Seven Years of iCampus Research

'Learning Without Barriers/Technology Without Borders'

Symposium at MIT Celebrates Seven Years of iCampus Research

Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Susan Hockfield 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.

Rick RashidA 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.

John Seely BrownRenowned 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.

Phil LongSharing 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.

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