As one of the world’s pre-eminent science and engineering universities, MIT is working to inspire pre K-12 students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects.
The MIT motto mens et manus (mind and hand) has set the stage for a unique culture of hands-on activity and minds-on engagement. Students and faculty are immersed in an intense and joyful process of experimenting, tinkering, investigating, and inventing. Underlying this process is a deep-seated commitment to making the world a better place.
Educating and inspiring young minds
MIT aims to provide universal access to high quality education for pre K-12 schools, teachers and students. We aspire to create a new pipeline of future engineers and scientists for fields vital to the future. We believe it is essential to capture the imagination and curiosity of students from the start of their education: to introduce even first and second graders to cutting edge concepts with modules designed to engage their inventiveness and creativity, while at the same time building a solid foundation in critical 21st-century skills.
A strong foundation in innovative STEM education
MIT’s aspirations for pre K-12 education are built on a long and rich tradition of innovation in STEM education, with roots in the prominent and impactful Physical Science Study Committee (PSSC) of 1956. Through classroom technologies, curriculum units, teacher professional development, and learning research, the faculty, staff and students of MIT are striving to improve STEM education broadly beyond campus, including a special emphasis on pre K-12 learning. The most recent manifestation of this vision is the 2014 Institute-Wide Task Force Report on the Future of MIT Education, which calls for coordinating many existing MIT K-12 initiatives and working toward a greater impact for the pre-college work that is taking place on campus.
Organizing to transform K-12 teaching and learning
As a result of the Task Force Report, MIT established The Initiative for Learning and Teaching (TILT) to bring the essence of the MIT learning approach beyond the borders of the campus to pre K-12 learners and teachers around the world. TILT looks to fill a growing need in education by initiating new research, design, and outreach programs that will transform both how students learn and how we understand how students learn. TILT will engage MIT faculty, staff, students, and researchers in pursuing two major interrelated goals:
Bring the MIT hands-on, minds-on approach to pre K-12 learners and teachers through the development of new technologies, services, and curricula, ranging from low-cost laboratory instruments and innovative computing environments to new strategies for connecting learners around the world.
Advance the science of teaching and learning through a diverse set of research methodologies from basic cognitive science and neuroscience to design-based research and classroom experiments.
Interactive digital-learning environments for teachers
MIT will leverage its expertise in developing digital learning environments to help develop technologies, communities, courses and platforms that support teachers. These resources will go far beyond the typical online lecture format to enable teachers to practice skills in simulated environments, learn socially from each other, and use advanced STEM learning tools that they can apply in their own classes. We will bring about knowledge transfer around the design of learning environments; prototyping of novel modules, simulations and games; and the support of underlying technology platforms.
Dimensions of the transformation of K-12 education
MIT’s engagement in pre K-12 reflects a diversity of undertakings characterized by inspiration, informal learning, dynamic content, innovative pedagogy, and specialized education for educators.
Awaken young minds with engaging, real-world, hands-on challenges, as illustrated by the Edgerton Center’s outreach programs. Provide captivating video content that reflects the social outlook of young learners and engages their imagination through youth-focused challenges replete with humor and creativity (MIT+K12 Videos).
Curate learning environments for inquiry-based activities in which goals and challenges are presented in relaxed, non-hierarchal formats, such as summer STEM camps and MIT’s very popular robotics programs.
Enhance classroom learning with video segments that enliven subject matter with gifted “guest lecturers” and intriguing case studies by taking advantage of resources such as LiNC (Learning International Networks Consortium), BLOSSOMS (Blended Learning Open Source Science or Math Studies), and MIT OpenCourseWare’s (OCW’s) Highlights for High School, or co-designing new content from these seed repositories.
A wealth of recent research in cognitive psychology and the neuroscience of learning presents new pathways to efficient and meaningful education: leveraging such techniques as blended-learning scenarios, hands-on exercises, games-based-learning and other research-based interventions and techniques.
Educating the educator
The continuum of transformation extends to professional development for teachers, where programs through the Teaching and Learning Lab (TLL) and the Scheller Teacher Education Program (STEP) prepare educators to internalize and apply new concepts and techniques. Summer teaching programs that involve MIT faculty and alumni will exploit best practices and utilize MIT’s rich content resources in order to impact teacher preparation. This will in turn enhance student motivation for STEM education.
Commitment to educational transformation
As part of TILT, MIT has launched two significant initiatives that illustrate its engagement in and commitment to educational transformation through substantial curriculum development and capacity building:
The MIT partnership with the Woodrow Wilson Foundation
MIT is launching several significant initiatives that illustrate its engagement in and commitment to educational transformation through substantial curriculum development and capacity building, including international initiatives such as the Conected Learning Initiative (CLIx), in partnership with the Tata Trusts in India.
The Connected Learning Initiative (CLIx) is a bold and innovative effort to improve the professional and academic prospects of high school students from underserved communities in India. CLIx incorporates thoughtful pedagogical design and leverages contemporary technology, including online capabilities, to provide quality educational content and experiences at scale. The initiative aims to reach a total of approximately 1,000 schools and 150,000 students in 3 states during 2015–2017. It will also conduct professional development for approximately 2,700 teachers.
The Office of Digital Learning provides technologies, resources, and expertise, enabling MIT to be an incubator for developing curriculum resources, addressing capacity building through professional development of educators, and influencing learning contexts and activities.