Task Force on the Future of Graduate
Education in the Context of MITx (TFGEM)
Membership:
Eran-Ben Joseph (Dept. Head, DUSP)
Lori Breslow (TLL, Sloan)
Derek Jaeger (IS&T, Staff to Task Force)
Philip Khoury (Associate Provost, History)
S. P. Kothari (Deputy Dean, Sloan)
Pavitra Krishnaswamy (HST, Graduate
Student)
Vijay Kumar (OEIT, ODL)
Alan V. Oppenheim (EECS)
Christine Ortiz (ODGE and DMSE, Chair)
Kristala Prather (CHEME)
John Rogosic (DMSE, Graduate Student)
Sara Seager (EAPS)
Jit Hin Tan (Sloan, CHEME, Graduate
Student )
Office of Digital Learning Retreat, May 17th, 2013
Sub-Team #1 Graduate Course and TAs
Recommendation 1:
The Digital-Learning Teaching Assistant (The “DLTA”)
○ Define and develop a new category of graduate teaching assistants which
are proficient in both subject matter and digital technologies: including the
development of an ongoing training program for this category of teaching
assistants.
○ The DLTAs would develop and use, for example:
⧠ autograding of exercises
⧠ moderate on-line discussion forums and office hours
⧠ work with the course instructors to integrate digital technologies
Task Force on the Future of Graduate Education in the Context of MITx (TFGEM)
Sub-Team #1 Graduate Course and TAs
Recommendation 2:
A Clearinghouse for Preferred Digital Technology Resources
○ Outreach showed significant use of many third-party digital tools to
augment course instruction and research.
○ Initiate within ODL a central mechanism for vetting, rating, reviewing
exchanging information on usage (case studies) to the community
preferred digital technology sources, including third-party tools.
○ There are constantly emerging new digital platforms for enhanced
teaching and learning. Accessing and testing these for possible use is
time consuming and often difficult. Implementing a model similar to the
smartphone “apple apps” model in which resources are vetted within the
context of a central infrastructure is efficient and also becomes part of
the mechanism for sharing of best practices and experiences.
○ Potential to add to reputation of the platform
Task Force on the Future of Graduate Education in the Context of MITx (TFGEM)
Sub-Team #1 Graduate Course and TAs
Recommendation 3:
Collaborative Residential Distance Teaching and Learning
○ Specialized advanced graduate courses are particularly amenable to
collaborative, interactive teaching; could be potentially multi-university,
mult-national; connection to alumni, client-based project design (e.g.
companies, sponsors) etc.; Discussion forum not limited geographically
and also may allow for participants to modularize their content.
○ Incorporate within the environment for digital learning technology
digital resources for “residential” collaborative and interactive distance
teaching and learning.
○ Establish an effective platform for interactive sharing between faculty
of best practices and effective resources for distance teaching and
learning. Collaborative distance teaching and learning inherently imposes
different technology constraints than local residential teaching and
learning, but offers the opportunity for considerably more interaction
and collaboration than the structure of MOOCs
Task Force on the Future of Graduate Education in the Context of MITx (TFGEM)
Sub-Team #2 Thesis Research and Co-Curricular Activities
#1: Platform for Research Skills Learning and Professional Development
Outreach and Team Discussions:
⧠ Students desire training in 21st Century Research Skills (e.g. big data, logic,
equipment); Professional Development (e.g. management, communication,
soft skills); and more Feedback Mechanisms beyond labs and departments
⧠ Faculty: quality thesis research is tied to F2F interactions; students should
“learn to learn”, “learn by doing” and “learn from others”.
⧠ Individual departments do not have resources or expertise to provide
courses on general skills or professional development.
Recommendation: Dynamic Interactive Platform “MITxGradConnect”
⧠ Modules: self-paced, self-help, as-needed, searchable repository of user
(student)-generated and mined content (e.g. research skills, core concept
catalogs, refreshers, interdisciplinary, equipment minicourses)
⧠ An interactive online community: discussion forums, lab “channels”, alumni
connections, match.com for innovative/entrepreneurial activity
⧠ Webinar style professional development modules - Virtual events on how to
teach with digital media, the virtual workplace, etc.
Task Force on the Future of Graduate Education in the Context of MITx (TFGEM)
Sub-Team #2 Thesis Research and Co-Curricular Activities
#2: Experiments in Publication Media and Formats
Outreach and Team Discussions:
⧠ Publication format should evolve to include evolving media
⧠ Need to allow explicit inclusion/referencing of data used in publications
⧠ Need to enable collaborative efforts – e.g. through virtual journal clubs or
multi‐university seminars will enhance publication utility
Recommendation: D-Space 2.0 and Virtual Journal Clubs
⧠ Develop Guidelines for the 21st century thesis in conjunction with MIT
Libraries.
⧠ MIT can combine videos, social media and publication tools to integrate
publication with discussion
⧠ Examples: JOVE, Nanohub; digital data, SUPER PDFs, etc.
Task Force on the Future of Graduate Education in the Context of MITx (TFGEM)
Sub-Team #2 Thesis Research and Co-Curricular Activities
#3: Sharing and Archival of Research Progress
○ Outreach and Team Discussions:
⧠ Paper is becoming obsolete
⧠ Need to make research more accessible and transparent – e.g. via work-inprogress documentation, detailing failed experiments (blog form)
⧠ Provide feedback and collaboration opportunities
○ Recommendation #3:
Online Shareable Laboratory Notebooks
⧠ Institutional rapid publication – internal to community and collaborators
⧠ Lab spaces – created and maintained by graduate students – for archival and
teaching of research relevant to lab (can integrate with platform in #1)
⧠ Incentivize students to be more rigorous in lab notebook procedures
⧠ Features: Layered secure access permissions, searchable, standard format,
template and form
Task Force on the Future of Graduate Education in the Context of MITx (TFGEM)
Sub-Team #2 Thesis Research and Co-Curricular Activities
#4: Crowdsourcing Research
Opportunity for Discussion
⧠ Can be useful for specialized research problems
⧠ Crowdsourcing for collaboration (e.g. “Foldit”, “Citizen sensors for meteor
trajectory”; polyMath)
⧠ Not proxy for real lab experience - there is value for graduate students to
perform repeated routine research tasks to gain expertise and subtleties
learned during the process.
Future Considerations
⧠ Supplementing Research –mass collaboration, simulation, visualization,
design, virtual experiments, enabling remote laboratories/experimentation,
etc.
⧠ Teaching value to remote learners on MITx
Task Force on the Future of Graduate Education in the Context of MITx (TFGEM)
Sub-Team #3 Graduate Level Assessment and Research in
Teaching and Learning
Studies on impact of educational innovations are best seen
along a spectrum
Unique to graduate education: Balance shifts from classroom learning to
outside the classroom activities (e.g. Thesis research, oral examinations,
research talks, professional development, teaching, content generation, etc.)
Precedent: “Assessment of Graduate Programs: Clear, Simple, and USEFUL” Barbara E. Walvoord,
Ph.D., Professor Emerita; University of Notre Dame; See:
http://www.gradschool.cornell.edu/sites/default/files/field_file/GradAssessWalvoord.pdf
Task Force on the Future of Graduate Education in the Context of MITx (TFGEM)
Sub-Team #3 Graduate Level Assessment and Research in
Teaching and Learning
Example Innovation: “MITxGradConnect” – How do we measure its effectiveness?
M
Survey
Interview,
Focus
Groups
e
t
h
o
s
Category
What is to be
assessed?
Access
Usage: discipline,
demographics, area of
research, etc.
Instrumentation
of website for
data collection
and analysis
Usability
How effective is
organization & format
of website
Usability studies
through observation of users &
interviews
Use
What is of use to the
users: names of
students, resources
posted, etc.
Impact
What are effects of
innovation?
✔
✔
✔
✔
Perfomance
Tasks
d
Other
✔
Task Force on the Future of Graduate Education in the Context of MITx (TFGEM)
Sub-Team #3 Graduate Level Assessment and Research in
Teaching and Learning
Recommendations
1. Develop and disseminate knowledge-base/best practice
on assessment/research to MIT community; Raise
awareness and create low barriers to entry. For example:
• Develop a web-based assessment module for
faculty, instructors, and students
• Design and implement workshops
• Raise awareness of material on TLL website
2. Choose projects to be assessed* according to criteria that
will allow for “meta-analysis”: e.g., all projects related to
improving students’ professional skills will be assessed
*We
assume resources will not be available to assess every project; therefore, we are recommending that criteria be
specified as to which projects will be researched or assessed.
Task Force on the Future of Graduate Education in the Context of MITx (TFGEM)
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