Working Across Disciplines to Improve Education
February 27, 2014 – 6:07am
In the last two years since MOOCs have been in the spotlight, both commentators and practitioners have made the case that a key to realizing the potential of technology in education is the collaboration of experts in teaching and learning, educational researchers, computer scientists, and disciplinary specialists.
We have such a partnership at MIT as the Teaching and Learning Laboratory (TLL) has teamed up with computer scientists from Anyscale Learning for All (ALFA), led by Dr. Una-May O’Reilly, and a physics faculty member, Professor John Belcher, who heads a team teaching electricity and magnetism (E&M), a required course for all MIT undergraduates. (Full disclosure: He is also my husband.)
We realize these kinds of collaborations are not new; they were pioneered by institutions like the Open University in the U.K. and Athabasca University in Canada, as well as organizations like the Open Learning Initiative. But we’ve added one more member to our team, Shreeharsh Kelkar, a doctoral student in anthropology, who observes our interactions.
Our goal is to unearth best practices in how communicating across disciplines can improve on-the-ground delivery of education. There is no doubt that in the months we’ve been collaborating, we’ve had challenges in communicating across our fields, but new ways to study and strengthen digital teaching and learning have also emerged. Here are several examples of what we have seen in our own work together. Read more.