Distance Learning

MIT's CLIx Nabs UNESCO Prize for Open Learning Initiative

MIT's Connected Learning Initiative (CLIx) has won the King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for the Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Education from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Launched in 2005, the prize "rewards individuals, institutions and non-governmental organizations for projects and activities which demonstrate best practices in, and creative use of, information and communication technologies (ICTs) to enhance learning, teaching and overall educational performance," according to information released by UNESCO.

A collaborative initiative between MIT Open Learning, Tata Trusts and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), CLIx uses pedagogical design and technology to improve the academic prospects of students underserved students in India. The project offers 15 STEM and English courses designed to augment traditional secondary school curriculum and reaches 460 rural schools, 2,000 teachers and 35,000 students in four Indian states, with plans to double those numbers by next year.

"The CLIx platform has been developed to deliver educational content to learners, support professional development and enable research," according to a news release. "The platform utilizes Open edX, the open source platform that powers edX courses, founded by MIT and Harvard University in 2012. MIT has contributed a collection of open source tools and applications to support CLIx learning experiences. The platform supports data collection and analysis capabilities used to foster evidence-based decision-making practices that inform program design as well as policymaking and funding."

Judged on design, pedagogy, content, technology, research and implementation, CLIx beat out 900 other submissions to take the award.

"It is at once humbling, gratifying and energizing to receive this award from UNESCO," said Vijay Kumar, associate dean for open learning and principal investigator for CLIx. "It is a testament not only to the tremendous efforts of the team at MIT, but also the remarkable contribution of the team at TISS in India. And it speaks to the strength of the collaboration without which so much progress on this complex initiative could not have been realized. It takes a village — an ecosystem of collaborating organizations focused on a systemic effort to bring about any meaningful positive change in education."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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