The National Science Foundation has just announced awards for its 2015 Teaching and Learning Video Showcase: Improving Science, Math, Engineering, and Computer Science Education. Two projects involving our MIT Office of Digital Learning partners in the Strategic Engineering Initiatives unit are among the winners.
The MIT-Haiti Initiative started in response to the destruction of Haitian universities by the earthquake of January 12, 2010. They are working to open up education in Haiti, by translating and developing digital learning technologies and active learning pedagogy in the local Kreyòl language.
In many developing nations, one barrier to quality education is the fact that the community language is not used in formal education while the primary language of instruction is a formerly colonial language that few speak fluently. In Haiti, everyone speaks Kreyòl, but the language of instruction is French which is spoken by no more than 5% of the population. This language barrier is: (i) a root cause of academic failure and emotional distress among students; (ii) a chronic violation of human rights; and (iii) a roadblock to socio-economic development. In order to improve and open up education in Haiti, we are developing digital tools in Kreyòl for active learning of STEM, and we are evaluating and disseminating these tools among Haitian faculty through a workshop series that started in March 2012.
Ink-12, a collaboration of TERC and MIT, is developing tablet software to support elementary grade students learning multiplication and division. The software, Classroom Learning Partner (CLP),
…allows students to use a tablet pen to create and manipulate mathematical representations and wirelessly send them to the teacher. The complete history of students’ interaction with the computer is saved along with the final representation and is thus available for analysis by teacher and researchers. CLP also performs automatic analysis and sorting of students’ work to help teachers choose appropriate examples for class discussion.
These are just two of the many high-impact projects coming out of MIT’s Strategic Engineering Initiatives unit, spanning innovative digital learning and worldwide education transformation efforts.