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Disruptive Innovation–in Education

KurzweilAI.net (04/20/12)

A new online-learning initiative from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has the potential to reinvent education, says Anant Agarwal, who will head the Open Learning Enterprise and oversee the development of MITx.  Agarwal says MITx is an effort to move the complete MIT classroom experience online, including video lectures, homework assignments, lab work, and a final grade.  The prototype course has more than 120,000 enrollees.  A pioneer in the development of parallel computing, Agarwal also has pursued innovations in online education, and he developed a program called WebSim that enabled students to process real-world electrical signals by assembling virtual circuits on a computer screen rather than physical circuits at a lab bench.  The development of tools such as WebSim will be crucial to the expansion of MITx.  Agarwal says the automation of lectures and grading could give professors and teaching assistants more time to work directly with students, including in open-ended research projects, and tools developed through MITx could enable students to learn in a more interactive fashion, and at their own pace and schedule.  “No one knows how it’s going to evolve,” he says.  “But it has the potential to change the world.”


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