The MIT Jameel World Education Lab promotes excellence in learning worldwide through collaborative research and interactive engagements with educational leaders across the globe. Educational innovators join J-WEL to upgrade the quality of learning on their campuses and in their communities and workplaces in ways that are inspired by MIT’s experience and connections.
J-WEL targets opportunities at three frontiers of educational innovation: Architecting Learning, Pathways for Talent, and Campus as Catalyst, anchoring our work in collaborations we have built with higher education and other institutions in settings from Indonesia to Latvia and Uzbekistan to Brazil, always seeking ecosystem linkages to serve learners across their lives. The forward-looking institutions that we work with serve over a million students today. J-WEL aims to reach many more by leveraging our collaborations to develop novel approaches that will reach educators everywhere and impact all kinds of learners. By creating and disseminating research-based insights for educational innovation, J-WEL’s Research Scientist and Academic Innovation Lead can chart a path that will enable J-WEL–and MIT–to multiply impact across the world in keeping with our vision of education designed for everyone to thrive.
About J-WEL and the position
J-WEL seeks an exceptional research scientist to shape and lead practical research essential to our mission of bringing MIT strengths to collaborations with educational innovators everywhere. Recognizing that implementability is central to our focus on impact, this role pairs the title of Research Scientist with Academic Innovation Lead.
The work builds on our experience and MIT connections. By convening a global community, co-creating impactful projects, and fielding evidence from our own and others’ experience, J-WEL brings field-tested insights and guidance to educational innovators everywhere.
A part of MIT Open Learning, J-WEL builds a global audience through our platform for sharing ideas and insights along with a paid membership model and curated set of project collaborations that run from several months to several years in length. The community of J-WEL members and the broader global audience for materials and events that we are building in turn enable the Research Scientist and Academic Innovation Lead to shape an ambitious research agenda in partnership with the Faculty Director, staff, and research collaborators.
Academic innovation topics include:
- Learning science
- Hybrid teaching models
- Connecting classroom, project-based, and internship learning experiences
- The role of AI in teaching and learning
- Enabling new pathways for learners
- Connecting learners, faculty, and communities to spur invention and innovation.
We draw on our own fieldwork, research, and expertise along with the MIT faculty and staff who join us to create and deliver events and projects. Another source of innovation is J-WEL’s unique grants program, which supports dozens of MIT researchers in developing new ideas, methods, and content in these domains.
In particular, the Research Scientist and Academic Innovation Lead will select and deploy rigorous and evidence-based methods to address pressing needs and new opportunities facing our collaborators and members. Core duties include: shaping our engagements; leading research and project teams; proposing programs and innovations; bringing evidence, research findings, and expertise to our conversations on emerging needs and questions; tracking and documenting innovations; and extracting and disseminating practical insights and research findings.
Techniques for creating knowledge include mixed methods for designing and implementing action research, quantitative measures of outcomes and impact, multi-method case documentation to link implementation and results, and inductive and grounded approaches to the design, development, and testing of frameworks and toolkits. Dissemination options include developing and delivering programs for members, publishing findings for scholarly and practitioner communities in high-impact conferences and journals, and sharing the work widely via workshops, talks, white papers, and other tools and products.
The Research Scientist and Academic Innovation Lead will join the entire J-WEL team to ensure that across the board our programmatic offerings generate scalable assets, for example through publications, compelling case studies that draw in new users, or easy-to-find validated, practical documentation and tools.
Principal Duties and Responsibilities
Contribute to our broad strategic objectives by leading work central to J-WEL’s interests and goals. Design and complete appropriate practical, original research to address unmet needs and propose effective novel solutions that capitalize on MIT’s unique positioning and knowhow.
Generate–and in many cases, co-create–shareable guidance (white papers, visual reports, or guides, for example) to advance educational innovations. Develop dialogs with members to inform J-WEL directions and priorities for research, events, and engagements. As feasible, harness design thinking to create tools and products for others to learn about and use ideas and methods we develop.
Deploy varied research methods as required, including learning assessment, educational program evaluation, curriculum assessment, case research, action research, and implementation science. Investigating and furthering our impact may also call for knowledge of diffusion, adoption, policy, and other institutional lenses.
Lead projects and engagements by:
Collaboratively vetting and shaping incoming opportunities, including in the selection of potential members, projects, collaboration opportunities, events, and publication opportunities to maximize knowledge creation.
Conducting field research and drawing on expert knowledge from collaborators, MIT experts, related disciplines and research fields, and the extant literature.
Supervising J-WEL staff in developing various events, workshop sequences, and projects; defining roles for and managing non-staff experts, including MIT faculty, as needed for specific efforts.
Aligning, collaborating, and coordinating with other J-WEL and MIT staff, operating independently and reporting directly to the Faculty Director.
In concert with J-WEL’s data administrator, track outcomes and insights emerging from projects and engagements.
Contribute to grants strategy, as J-WEL will disburse up to $1 million annually to MIT researchers.
Identify research opportunities, participate in funding and proposal development, then design project and study plans to ensure timely and cost-effective research efforts.
Outreach and dissemination:
Publish research papers and notes in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and academic proceedings.
Lead or contribute to other submissions, such as for trade journals and working paper series, research popularizations (e.g., editorials), and other outlets with wide reach.
Select and participate in academic and practitioner-oriented conferences, symposia, and meetings.
Design, instruct, lead, and collaborate with staff in a slate of workshops, professional development sessions, and potential mini courses.
Build collaborations with J-WEL faculty advisors, PIs, and other MIT experts.
Track journals, reports, books, and practitioner publications to field new knowledge and ideas, including from learning science, instructional research, educational evaluation, and ecosystem innovation, to inform research directions and identify materials and ideas to share broadly.
Other tasks essential to the unit’s functioning to include presenting J-WEL to stakeholders across MIT and working with the management team.
Report to the J-WEL Faculty Director.
Oversee project management staff for research, content creation, and dissemination tasks as relevant. Potential to supervise MIT-based and contract research staff, including internationally.
Qualifications and Skills:
- PhD in Education, Instructional Design, Learning Science, or relevant field.
- Deep working knowledge of global higher education trends, issues, and findings stemming from the science of learning, digital learning, emerging technologies for teaching and learning, instructional design, diversity and inclusion, and innovation in education.
- Experience and interest in tracking and publishing in academic conferences and journals. Track record of academic publication.
- Experience designing and leading educational workshops, teaching, or other relevant program delivery.
- Solid knowledge of a suite of quantitative and qualitative research methods. Strong capabilities in the design and conduct of research studies, including any of the following: case research, evaluation, assessment, natural and quasi-experiments, and mixed methods.
- Zest for working at the intersection of research and practice and for learning about and working closely with collaborators in different settings.
- Facility with participatory research methods to incorporate diverse stakeholder and community voices in the design and execution of research and programs.
- Ability to work both independently and collaboratively as the situation warrants.
- Expertise in coordinating, supporting, and managing education research and program efforts across multiple simultaneous projects.
- Interest in developing creative and novel programs and products for educators worldwide.
- Proven project management skills, whether formally or informally developed.
- Ability to travel internationally on occasion.
- Background in STEM or social sciences, including quantitative social sciences, is preferred.
- Knowledge of concepts related to entrepreneurship and innovation is a plus.
- Interest in and knowledge of AI and other technologies in education is a plus.
- Familiarity with educational systems beyond the US.
- Experience working on international projects.
On-campus work is required several days most weeks, with scope for hybrid part-time.
Application should include a CV, cover letter, and writing sample of your own creation that presents your research. Upload your work sample in the resume field of the application.
MIT is an equal employment opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran status, or disability.