Back-to-School Teaching Inspiration

Close-up photo of approximately 200 sharpened pink pencil tips.

Courtesy of Duncan.c on Flickr. License CC BY-NC 2.0.

By Sarah Hansen, OCW Educator Project Manager

It’s that time of year again—students are sharpening their pencils, charging their tablets, and gearing up to return to the classroom. Teachers, also, are getting ready, revamping curricula, creating engaging classroom environments, and brushing up on the latest instructional approaches. It’s an energizing time!

MIT faculty and instructors are excited, too. Through the OCW Educator initiative, you can discover how they’re approaching some of the hottest topics in education.

Here’s a few handpicked highlights. We hope their energy inspires you!

Active Learning

8.591J Systems Biology

Professor Jeff Gore discusses perceived barriers to active learning, particularly in large lecture classrooms, and shares how he has successfully implemented active learning strategies in this biophysics course.


20.219 Becoming the Next Bill Nye

Instructor Elizabeth Choe and her co-educators share their insights about grading and providing productive feedback in a course focused on students’ creative work.

Critical Thinking

21H.134J Medieval Economic History in Comparative Perspectives

Professor Anne McCants shares how she frames lectures in this history course as problem-solving endeavors and discusses specific strategies for helping students engage in critical thinking.

Engaging Learners

6.034 Artificial Intelligence

Professor Patrick Henry Winston shares strategies he uses to engage learners in a large lecture class.

Teaching Content in Real-World Contexts

CMS.611 Creating Video Games

Instructors Philip Tan, Rik Eberhardt, and Sara Verilli share their insights about engaging students in an academic-humanitarian partnership in this course focused on designing video games.

Teaching Communication

22.THT Undergraduate Thesis Tutorial

Professor Michael Short shares strategies for helping students develop their science communication skills.

Teaching the Design Process

6.811 Principles and Practices of Assistive Technology

Instructors William Li and Grace Teo share their insights about teaching students how to engage in the assistive technology design process, and in three videos, student teams also share their perspectives about what it was like to participate in this unique user-centered learning experience.

Teaching Problem Solving

Supplemental Resource: Vibrations and Waves Problem Solving

Professor Emeritus Wit Busza shares his approach to problem solving, strategies for supporting students as they engage in problem solving, and common sources of confusion for students as they engage in this process.

Teaching with Technology

18.05 Introduction to Probability and Statistics

Instructors Jeremy Orloff and Jonathan Bloom discuss how they used the Residential MITx platform to incorporate online reading questions and problem set checkers into this introductory probability and statistics course.

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