Guest Blogger: Lana Cook, Office of Digital Learning

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Photo: Dominick Reuter/MIT News Office

As MIT Celebrates a Century in Cambridge, we look back and ahead on the state of education. After 100 years in Cambridge, what’s next for MIT? What does the future of education look like at MIT and the world?

MIT asked these very questions at a recent symposium on The Campus – Then, Now, Next. For MIT leaders like Vice President for Open Learning Sanjay Sarma and Anant Agarwal, edX CEO and professor of EECS, the future of education is going digital. “We have come so far in the past five to ten years that it’s absolutely unimaginable,” says Agarwal. “And the confluence of cloud computing, social networking, video distribution at scale, game design, artificial intelligence have really brought a whole new level of performance and ability.”

The digital age of education comes in response to rapid innovations in educational technology and ever-shifting college demographics. The stereotypical 18-year-old freshmen enrolling in a four-year college right after high school is no longer a realistic picture of higher education today. A great majority of college students today are working full or part time, have children, and are taking courses part time and in the evenings.

This shift in demographics has changed the way we offer up education. Online courses and professional certification programs, like MITx on edX and MIT’s new MicroMasters in Supply Chain Management, offer students greater flexibility and control over when and how they learn. But, if online is the hot new thing in education, what happens to the campus? “The world is clamoring for something in between, something more modular, something that you can do flexibly, something that you can do anywhere, anytime, even just in case,” says Agarwal.

While digital learning technologies like responsive assessments and game learning offer new opportunities for a personalized education, the role of campus remains an important site for learning. As Sarma sees it, the campus environment is where the magic occurs, where teams form, where students find mentors and have the formative coming-of-age experiences that propel them forward to future livelihoods. Online is a tool that enriches the onsite, liberating teachers in the classroom to do more hands-on projects and to cherish in-person interactions and peer-to-peer relationships.

Dr. Susan Singer, division director in the division of undergraduate education at National Science Foundation, discussed how online education can not only enrich in-person interaction, but can actually help address worldwide problems by bridging the boundaries of time and place. “As we think about the global challenges, I’d like to challenge all of us to think beyond courses or even modules and consider the online environment as a place to collectively address problems. We think about citizen science, academic civic engagement, classroom learning, problem solving, crowdsourcing all coming together. Isn’t it possible for our students worldwide to be coming together to solve problems that could truly make a difference?”

In 2014, the MIT Task Force on the Future of Education predicted that education in the future will be diffuse, unbundled, on demand, just in time, and just in case. At the upcoming LINC 2016 Conference, hosted at MIT on May 23-25, MIT leaders like Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart, Dean Dennis Freeman, and Dean Christine Ortiz will dive even deeper into the subject, with sessions on the future of faculty, future of pedagogy, and the future of the university. The conference will discuss digital learning challenges and opportunities, including a student panel with examples and a digital sandbox demonstration, and will include workshops on MOOC development and various sectors of pre K-12 education.

Interested in attending LINC Conference? Online registrations are closed, but email linc2016conference@mit.edu to secure one of the few remaining spots on these forward-looking sessions and join fellow educators, researchers, and technologists to envision the future of digital education, access, and inclusion for learners around the world.

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In 1916 MIT students and alumni might have found comfort in a nice bowl of turtle soup but today things are a bit different. MIT banquets in the 1900’s featured a wealth of unfamiliar items, in this video, Nora Murphy, archivist at MIT Institute Archives describes the history behind these less familiar foods that were commonly eaten in the 1900’s

Experience a culinary lesson with some current MIT students about common meals at MIT from 100 years ago. Watch the 2 minute video to find out if you’ve ever tried them.

To learn more about these delicacies, join the MIT Alumni Association’s Twitter chat featuring Murphy on Tuesday, May 17, at 3:00 p.m. EDT. Bring your questions about life in 1916 and hear the interesting stories uncovered in researching a century in Cambridge. Follow the chat with the hashtag #MITAlum.

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Sun in Hydrogen Alpha Light (© Jack Liu)

Sun in Hydrogen Alpha Light (© Jack Liu)

Jack Liu is an astrophotographer, and retired engineering manager, living in Silicon Valley, CA, See more of his photos on his websiteView other alumni photos of the week.

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Can 100-year-old technology still be used? Today’s MIT students take the challenge with one essential component of technological advancement—the slide rule. In 2016 we have a tool that functions the same way on our phones and computers, and back in 1916 scientists used the slide rule to solve anything from basic mathematical computation to the Apollo 13 landing. Curator of Science and Technology at the MIT Museum Deborah Douglas calls the slide rule “one of the coolest and most important technological instruments that people don’t have the dimmest idea about.” If this tool was so crucial why isn’t it still being used?

Join some inquisitive MIT students as they learn how essential the slide rule was and what has happened to it over the past 100 years.

Watch the 3 minute video.

Dive even further into MIT’s historic quirks in a live Twitter chat with MIT Libraries archivists, including Nora Murphy, on May 17 at 3:00 p.m. EDT. Bring your questions about life in 1916 and learn about the artifacts uncovered in researching a century in Cambridge. Follow the chat with the hashtag #MITAlum.

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Watch Parker perform Chopin’s Nocturne in B Major at the Aspen Music Festival and School in 2015.

Watch Parker perform Chopin’s Nocturne in B Major at the Aspen Music Festival and School in 2015.

Want to know what’s new in the campus arts scene? The Arts at MIT blog will help you out there. A new post about senior Daniel Parker describes his journey to MIT via a gap year in Egypt and, after his graduation in June, to Julliard to earn a master’s in piano performance. Parker’s experience in Egypt whetted his interest in political science, one of several early interests at MIT before settling in as a music major.

His talent was recognized early and he was able to take private lessons, first in voice and then in piano, as an Emerson scholar and then a fellow. His solo recitals in MIT’s Killian Hall included a performance of the complete Book I of J. S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. Preparing to play that body of work took two semesters, Parker says in the Arts at MIT blog post:

“That was musically a life-changing experience …. it made me fluent in that kind of contrapuntal language of the Baroque. And it also did wonders for my technique, because with Bach you’re playing multiple voices with your hand, so you have to have a lot of control over what is coming out when. It gave me a lot more maturity in terms of being able to memorize because it’s about two hours of nonstop music.”

He has won many awards and honors for his music—and his interests don’t stop there. He spent most of 2013 living in a Zen Buddhist monastery. “And for me the very reason that I’m interested in music is because it is a unique type of human communication that connects people emotionally and spiritually.”

And why did he choose MIT? It was Campus Preview Weekend: “I basically came and loved it better than any other place—the energy and creativity, especially the fact that students were organizing all of these things. It was really grassroots, and I liked the people I met.”

Sample the Arts at MIT blog:

05.12.16_artsblog_camerasBursts of Light: Exploring the Multi-Strobe

Visiting artist Keith Ellenbogen, a photographer specializing in underwater imagery, revisited some of Doc Edgerton’s innovations, such as the use of the multi-strobe shot and advanced cameras, to engage students in capturing motion.

 

05.12.16_ArtBlog_library-cropThe Once and Future Library

Libraries are being transformed from physical repositories of print to digital doorways to knowledge as well as communal spaces and cultural storehouses. Find out what the MIT community is thinking about the future of libraries and hear from McDermott Award winner David Adjaye, a preeminent architect responding to the changing needs of libraries.

05.12.16_ArtBlog_biologic_cropbioLogic’s Living Textile

A research team in MIT’s Tangible Media Group in the Media Lab, bioLogic, has created a completely new form of performance fabric that combines biomaterials research with textile design. An MIT Council for the Arts grant allowed the group  to bring together fashion and product designers to bring their project to a new artistic level.

You can subscribe to Arts at MIT for regular updates.

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Nearly 500 MIT alumni marched in the Moving Day at MIT parade.

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The parade’s grand marshal was Oliver Smoot ’62.

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MIT's student "Smoot Brigade" helped lead the parade's procession.

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Slide background Ray Magliozzi '72 traveled in a chariot inspired by the TV series "Lost in Space."
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NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra celebrates MIT's centennial with a message from space.

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MIT's Great Dome illuminated with imagery and quotes throughout the pageant.

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MIT's greatest minds faced off in a comical battle of mens versus manus.

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Excerpted lyrics from "We are the Engineers," which was performed by MIT students.

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The oageant featured a closing performance from the dance collective Pilobolus.

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MIT, anagrammed as the "Institute of Tactless Naughty Smooches."

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More than 200 MIT community members attended the evening barbecue.

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Legions of MIT community members, including more than 500 MIT alumni, celebrated Moving Day at MIT, the 100th anniversary of the Institute’s move from Boston to Cambridge, on May 7. Moving Day featured a day and evening of events that celebrated MIT’s century in Cambridge, including a ceremonial parade across the Mass. Ave. Bridge, led by grand marshall Ollie Smoot ’62; an evening barbecue for MIT alumni; the festive Mind and Hand: A Pageant; and late-night dance parties at four locations across campus.

Moving spectacle: MIT marks 100 years in Cambridge with “Crossing the Charles” parade and evening celebration,” MIT News

“They arrived via water and over land, by raft and hydrofoil, on foot and in experimental vehicles. Some paddled. Some danced. Some walked alongside robots. In all, hundreds of members of the MIT community on Saturday celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Institute’s move from Boston into Cambridge, Massachusetts with a unique procession across the Charles River, fueled by humor and creativity.”

View the slideshow above, featuring photos taken by MIT Alumni Association staff, then learn how you can relive Moving Day at MIT.

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The words “Massachusetts Institute of Technology” on the Great Dome was anagrammed to spell, among others, “Changeless Institute of Outcast Mythos,” “Massachusetts Touchstone of Gentility,” and “Institute of Tactless Naughty Smooches.”

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Tim the Beaver leads the procession into the Mind and Heart pageant. 

Photo credits: N. Morell; A. Scott; J. Cole; K. Repantis; N. Duvergne Smith; J. Barr; A. Dolan Wilson; R. Ferrara; C. Tempesta; E. Kathan; J. London; L. Wojtkun; K. Hunter; T. Johnson; C. Shi; N. Crosby; A. Ashe.

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Growing up, nuclear physicist James Maxwell idolized scientists—and he had the movies to thank for it. “We used play Ghostbusters on the playground. We had scientists as role models because of them,” he says. So it was particularly fortuitous for Maxwell—a former MIT postdoc and current researcher at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility—when he was tapped to recreate some of his work for the new Ghostbusters movie. “It felt like I was struck by lightning” he says.

Maxwell's He3 Lab that caught the attention of the Ghostbusters' crew. Photo: James Mxwell

Maxwell’s He3 Lab that caught the attention of the Ghostbusters’ crew. Photo: James Mxwell

Ghostbusters began filming in Boston last summer, and, to get inspiration for props used in the film, the film crew reached out to Lindley Winslow, assistant professor of physics, for a tour of some of MIT’s labs. Winslow happened to work next to Maxwell and invited him to share his work with the filmmakers.  “I was imagining that it was some local Boston indie filmmakers. Then I got there and turns out they were working for Ghostbusters,” he explains.

Maxwell says he showed off his helium-3 polarization lab. “It’s a fun-looking apparatus that’s got some big magnets, glass cells and tubes, lasers and light-up plasma,” he says. Ghostbusters director Paul Feig agreed that the device looked fun. Maxwell says, “They took pictures of it along with other things and Paul Feig saw my apparatus and pointed at it and said, ‘I want that!’” Feig not only the desired apparatus for the film, but Maxwell as well, inviting him to the set to replicate his device. The replica of Maxwell’s apparatus was destined for a starring role in the movie, that of the proton pack—the large backpack-style weapon used in the film series to weaken ghosts.

Building a replica device on set provided a unique challenge for Maxwell. “I thought ‘How do I build these things that look they work but actually don’t?’” he says. Maxwell says the technology isn’t there yet for a working proton pack—

Abby and Holtzmannn's lab at the Higgins Institute of Science. Photo: Sony/Columbia

Maxwell’s lab reacreated for Abby and Holtzmannn’s lab in Ghostbusters. Photo: Sony/Columbia

and the existence of ghosts is up for debate—but he created the prototype on the supposition that these things are possible. “I had to think about how it might actually work and label each part, so I came up with a semi-feasible way for getting a proton pack to work on your back,” he says.

Though technology hasn’t caught up to his proton pack design, Maxwell says whenever he talks about the device, it’s an opportunity. “Each time someone asks about it, it’s an opportunity to educate someone,” he says, explaining the main technology behind the proton pack in a particle accelerator, which is a very real thing.

Maxwell, who left MIT at the end of last summer, says the work with Ghostbusters was a fitting end to his time at the Institute, “I can’t believe I was randomly chosen out of all the cool-looking things at MIT,” he says. And as for fears that all his hard work might end up on the cutting room floor, Maxwell isn’t worried. “It’s already in the trailers!” he says. Ghostbusters, along with Maxwell’s proton pack, is in theaters this July.

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Red-crowned Cranes Hokkaido, Japan. (© Shelley Lake).

Red-crowned Cranes Hokkaido, Japan. (© Shelley Lake).

Shelley Lake SM ’79 is a photographer in Florida. View more of her work on her website. View other alumni photos of the week.

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Watch the MIT’s Mind and Hand Pageant live via Webcast on May 7 at 8:00 p.m.

Update: Watch the archived version of the Mind and Hand pageant on the MIT2016 website. 

On Saturday, May 7, MIT will celebrate Moving Day, where the Institute will commemorate its 1916 campus move from Boston to Cambridge with a day and evening of on-campus events. Alumni outside of the Boston area can join the celebration and watch MIT’s centennial pageant, Mind and Hand, live via webcast on Saturday evening.

The pageant will celebrate MIT’s history with an entertaining look to the Institute’s future. Killian Court will host pyrotechnic displays, multimedia soundscapes on the facade of Bldg. 10, student performances, and an interactive component blending art and science that will feature the dance troupe Pilobolus.

Watch the pageant above or visit the Mind and Hand webcast page beginning at 8:00 p.m., Saturday. To learn more about Moving Day and MIT’s centennial celebration, visit the MIT2016 website. We hope you will enjoy the pageant!

About Pilobolus
Pilobolus
Pilobolus is an artistic collective, renowned for its unique collaborations that ignore barriers between creative disciplines. The collective performs for more than 300,000 people around the world each year and has been featured on “60 Minutes,” “Sesame Street,” “Oprah,” and “Ellen” Pilobolus has been recognized with many honors, including a TED Fellowship and a Grammy Nomination. Learn more about Pilobolus.

About Moving Day
MIT 150: Toast to Tech
In spring 1916, after 55 years in Boston, MIT moved its campus slightly west to Cambridge. 100 years later, the Institute will celebrate the campus’ centennial on May 7 with Moving Day at MIT. The festivities will include a community march across the Mass. Ave. Bridge, centennial parties and events throughout the day and evening, and an evening barbecue for MIT alumni. Learn more about Moving Day.

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OnDemandChefs_2Have you ever considered getting a personal chef? Most likely not—because unless you’re famous, it probably didn’t seem like a viable option. But two students in Sloan’s executive MBA program have come up with a fast-growing platform that brings professionally-trained chefs to your door to cook your meals—all at a reasonable cost. Tomasz Grzegorczyk ’16 and Malena Gonzalez ’16 started On Demand Chefs earlier this year and already have more than 50 people using the service, all just by word of mouth. The service provides healthy meals cooked right in your kitchen, and the menu is generated using nutritional data, with a focus on convenience and customization. And, the chefs will even do all the shopping for you.

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On Demand Chefs co-founders Tomasz Grzegorczyk ’16 and Malena Gonzalez ’16

What makes their startup unique and impressive, is how it works. “We created a platform to connect chefs with households to cook everyday meals,” says Gonzalez, “and there’s a lot of science in the background to make this platform sustainable.”

The platform works using an algorithm. By sourcing information from the USDA database about daily recommended food nutrition, combined with data analytics and scripting, as well as each client’s food preferences, the platform can track food intake and make personalized recommendations based on nutritional needs.

The pair originally created the algorithm for their other venture, ValueMe, which won them the prize at the MIT Global Challenge. ValueMe was specifically designed to calculate nutritional data based on a grocery list and offer suggestions of what might be missing from your diet. They spun out On Demand Chefs because they realized that part of the challenge is coming up with new recipes and finding the time to actually cook nutritionally balanced meals. “We wanted to use data analytics to help people make better nutrition choices,” says Gonzalez. “We can take any ingredient list and convert it to nutrition and give recommendations of what’s missing.”

Another key element in the success of their business is the chefs. They promise to provide the best and use only trained culinary professionals. Once each chef’s qualifications have been checked, they cook for Gonzalez and Grzegorczyk for two hours preparing four meals and cleaning when finished, just as they will do for the customers. “Not only do we validate that they are able to cook, but the interaction with the customer is very very important.”

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