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President's Report submitted July 2010 for AY 09-10

President’s Report July 2010

In AY2010, OEIT continued its core mission of improving teaching and learning at MIT through developing and disseminating innovative uses of technology. OEIT’s activities are largely directed toward three strategic areas to which we bring unique perspective, skills, and methodologies: bridging research and learning, linking digital content to the curriculum, and fostering communities of innovation and practice.


OEIT’s work with MIT faculty to reify technology-enabled opportunities makes a significant impact on the learning experience of our students. This is reflected through innovative teaching practices that help faculty address topics and concepts in ways that were hitherto not possible; programs that bridge research and educational activities; and prototypes to influence and demonstate contemporary educational infrastructure and services. These outcomes and our strategic themesare reflected in OEIT’s key accomplishments described below:

Bridging Research and Learning

The Software Tools for Academics and Researchers (STAR) group

continues to support and improve its software offerings: StarBiochem, StarBiogene, StarHydro, StarMolsim, StarGenetics and StarORF. Over the last year, three new software products were added to the STAR suite: StarGenetics-Yeast, StarWiki and StarCluster. The STAR software suite was used by 1300 MIT students during AY2010. The total number of users worldwide has doubled over the last year to almost 12,500.

Continuing funding from the Davis Educational Foundationhas allowed STAR to extend its impact both locally at MIT and worldwide. This includes the development of openly available contextual materials for faculty and students, as well as workshops such as those for Howard University and engagement with Spanish speaking partners in Spain, Puerto Rico and Columbia.

STAR staff also participated in the development of the Biology Department’s successful HHMI Grant proposals. The STAR group is focusing on developing new tools for MIT’s GIR courses, in particular StarBacteria (for 7.01x series, 7.03), and expanding the use of StarCluster in the research community and for classroom use of High Performance Computing. StarBiochem, the STAR group’s most popular product, is releasing version 2 in July 2010.

Geographical Information Systems GIS: Extensive support, including the use of the GIS Lab (7-238) in partnership with MIT Libraries, for GIS applications across the curriculum; the Terrascope freshman year program; helping students compile an online, spatially focused diary; developing and teaching class and lab exercises and introductions to technology such as raster GIS tools for subjects and faculty in EAPS, CEE, and DUSP; and a project-based learning subject that has about 100 graduate students and UROP projects. Support for 4 Course Masters of Engineering thesis projects was supervised by Profs. Pete Shanahan, Dara Entekhabi, and Eric Adams.   

Linking Content and Curriculum

TheTrans Media Systems and Applications (TSA) group’s work over the past year included progress on developing technology tools and applications that meet the needs of specific courses and programs as well as inform the development of next generation educational technology environments.   Specific initiatives included the following:

Russian Revolution Timeline: In collaboration with Prof Elizabeth Wood, the Russian Revolution Timeline project developed a digital timeline to showcase the connections among a range of social groups as they were experiencing the complex upheavals during the Russian Revolution.

Edgerton Archives: OEIT contributed to this project by developing federated search capabilities across the various digital asset collections of thesite to create an authoritative source for artifacts that celebrate the life and work of Harold "Doc" Edgerton.

Spoken Media:SpokenMedia ( is an umbrella project for the development of tools and services to enable rich media notebooks for learning and teaching.  The project builds on the CSAIL Spoken Lecture project led by Prof. Jim Glass (an iCampus initiative), to increase the educational effectiveness of web-based lecture media, such as academic video lectures from MIT OpenCourseWare, by improving their search and discoverability.

Core Concept Catalog: This proof-of-concept project is exploring re-

use of OCW, Spoken Lecture Project and other openly available content from the perspective of core curricular concepts, or “learning objectives”, as defined by MIT faculty in a handful of relatively inter-related domains, like Physics, Mathematics and Mechanical Engineering.

Visualization in Mathematics, Science, and Technology: Thisjoint project with the Department of Mathematics and the Edgerton Center will develop a new undergraduate subject for students to learn essential visual arts principles, critical thinking, and analytic skills that will empower them to interpret and represent mathematical, scientific, and engineering information using modern visualization tools and media.

Project Greenfield: OEIT has launched Project Greenfield as an experiment to enable MIT faculty to explore how OpenCourseWare and Open Educational Resources might be used in new and innovative ways to support education at MIT and elsewhere. OEIT, in collaboration with OCW is hosting a mirror OCW site as a “sandbox” environment in which to experiment with value added functionality initially including recommender systems, interactive video and transcript players, content annotation and concept mapping.

NB: Developed by David Karger and his student Sacha Zyto, NB enables collaborative annotation of PDF documents and was one of this year's iCampus award recipients.  OEIT is supporting the deployment and hosting of this application with a view to piloting it in classes in the fall and supporting the OCW Scholar initiative.

Global Classroom project:  OEIT provided educational technology consulting to this MITCET funded project led by Professor Lionel C. Kimerling of Materials Science to explore support multi-university courses at MIT being prototyped with 3.003 Principles of Engineering Practice, in collaboration with Professor Kazumi Wada at the University of Tokyo.

Mathlets: OEIT consulted with Prof. Haynes Miller, Mathematics, to design and developThe MIT Mathlets website (, which hosts a suite of Java applets and other relevant materials for teaching and learning differential equations. In spring 2010, over 600 students from 18.03 Differential Equations used the Mathlets site for homework and study.  Mathlets, are part of the larger initiative to link the mathematics curriculum to science and engineering subjects.

External Engagements


OEIT partnered with select institutions internationally around leading-edge end-tech projects and programs of interest to MIT. With the Open University of Catalonia we are helping to define the Campus Project, a community of interest in next generation learning platform architecture. With Universite de Lyon we are exploring the use of the Spiral Connect platform for use in foreign language education and more broadly looking to develop partnerships around enhancing the use of Open Education Resources.   In India we are working closely with the India Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) a new university being created in partnership with faculty in DUSP.  We have helped to define an educational infrastructure plan and are pursuing further funding to help design and build the initial IIHS system.

K-12 Engagements:

This past year OEIT’s engagement with K-12 education has taken on new emphasis and directions.   OEIT played a pivotal role in connecting MIT’s efforts to the State of Massachusetts STEM initiatives.  A key part of these efforts has been the development of a document that coherently presents some of MIT’s significant projects related to STEM education. ( OEIT has been participating in proposals being developed by the State (DOE’s Reach to The Top initiative) and by education non-profit agencies such as JFY Networks (for the federal I3 initiative). For these opportunities OEIT has primarily advanced faculty-led initiatives such as those by Profs. Eric Klopfer, Richard Larson (BLOSSOMS) and Kathy Vandiver, (Living Lab) as well as  its own efforts from the STAR program and in developing next generation learning platforms. OEIT also co-hosted a Share Fair at MIT along with Learning Curve, a regional K-12 consortium that featured MT initiatives in K-12.


OEIT’s educational outreach strategy is directed toward the development of communities of interest and practice around pedagogies and educational technology, using face-face forums, web technology, powerful multimedia, and knowledge management. Educational outreach activities in AY2010 included the following:

MathCI: OEIT ‘s TSA group worked with Prof. Haynes Miller, Dr. Mia Minnes and Dr. Sami Assaf from the Department of Mathematics; and Susan Ruff, Lecturer in the Writing Across the Curriculum program to develop a collaborative site to share and discuss information regarding how to better teach communications skills within math courses. OEIT is exploring the potential of extending the MathCI model and system to other disciplines at MIT.

The Ed Tech Fair 2009:In partnership with the Office of Faculty Support and the Teaching and Learning Lab.  Two dozen engaging poster and panel sessions were presented by faculty including Profs. John Belcher, Dava Newman, Haynes Miller and Kurt Fendt. Staff and students also showcased innovative technology-enabled efforts and initiatives used to advance student learning and teaching at MIT. (           

The Gallery of Educational Innovation was developed along with the other substantial enhancements of the OEIT website, for the MIT community and the larger education community to share best practices and find useful resources and tools for advancing teaching and learning with technology. Currently, 18 projects and five themes (Collaboration, Active Learning, Cross Media, Visualization and Simulation, and Open Education) are featured in the gallery. (

Crosstalk forums were organized on:  "MIT Math CI Space: Collaborative Site for Instructors of Mathematical Communication," by Mia Minnes (Mathematics), Susan Ruff (Writing Across the Curriculum), Haynes Miller (Prof. of Mathematics) and Violeta Ivanova (OEIT); "Promoting the Use of Instructional Mathlets Across the Curriculum," by Haynes Miller (Prof. of Mathematics), Karen Willcox (Prof. of Aeronautics & Astronautics), and Franz Hover (Prof. of Mechanical Engineering); and "Evidence Based Design--The Open Learning Initiative," by Candace Thille, Director of Carnegie Mellon University's Open Learning Initiative. OEIT also sponsored a Spiral Connect introduction with Lyon University guests.

IAP sessions( included diverse workshops as well as an open house to network with faculty and other MIT groups on technology enabled opportunities for educational enhancement.

The LINC international conference was co hosted with Professor Richard Larson.

DUE Visiting Committeepresentations featuring faculty projects on technology-enabled change were organized by OEIT .

OEIT staff presented MITs educational technology and IT efforts in support of education to NEASC.

MIT Educational Technology Strategy and Planning

OEIT’s continued its key role in the work of the Council on Educational Technology (MITCET):  providing leadership and coordination for the Council’s meetings; conducting the annual Microsoft Research iCampus Technology Innovation Student Prize to recognize innovative applications of IT by students, as well as participating in the Next Generation LMS committeeand the working groups on transition of the Athena computing environment.

OEIT also contributed significantly to two important DUE led initiatives:the Online Subject Evaluation/Who’s Teaching What project ( and the Textbook Information Provisioning Project (TIP) providing strategic guidance, client relationship, project coordination and technical advice to these initiatives.

Flexible Learning Environments:

OEIT’s support of spaces configured for innovative educational experiments and specialized applications included the following:

- Rebuilding and upgrading the software on all of the 25 workstations in 37-312, the Advanced Visualizationfacility. OEIT also extended its efforts to upgrade machines in W20 and E51 (28 machines).

- Upgrading the Macintosh environment in New Media Center (Room 26-139) and Room 4-035 for enhanced Digital Media capabilities.

- Provisioned 1-142 to support the project based course from EECS

-        Flexible Laptops.Provisioned the mobile Mac laptops to provide ad hoc computing environments for subjects such as HST.583 and 6.963, and for outreach efforts including the DUE Visiting Committee, Ed Tech Fair.

OEIT’s Response to Budget Reductions:

OEIT took an 11% reduction for the 2011 budget on the heels of a 7% reduction in the previous year with the following actions to achieve its reduction target:

1.     Elimination of an Associate Director (Administration) position.

2.     Reduction in an Administrative Analyst supporting events and travel) effort from 0.60FTE to 0.40FTE. 

3.      Reduction in the GIS Specialist position from 12 months to 10 months. Following this, the GIS position was transferred to MIT Libraries for greater alignment of GIS services at MIT.

4.     Sizable reductions in equipment procurement, travel, professional development, and operating expenses

Mitigating of the impact of OEIT’s budget reductions will  require a significantly increased reliance on soft funding opportunities. Overall  this reduction presents  challenges for  OEIT in terms of diminished capacity for  adhoc consulting  for projects and activities as well as risks to their sustainability.


OEIT continued its active engagement in ACCORD. OEIT staff playing a leadership role in creating a web portal for video services at MIT.

Professional Contributions and Leadership

OEIT staff continued to participate in a range of relevant professional activities coauthoring papers and delivering presentations at several  venues, such as the the New Media Consortium Conference, CA  2010, OER10, Cambridge, UK. , Gordon Research Conference on Visualization in Science and Education, 2009, Oxford University,  International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning –ISSOTL 2009,  NERCOMP 2009 Annual Conference; The American Society for Cell Biology; SciPy 2010; Computation Research in Boston (CRIB), Open University of Israel, University of Tromso, Norway, the University of Maryland, American Chamber of Commerce, India. OEIT staff also served on program and advisory committees for several organizations, including NERCOMP, the Horizon Project, Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council.  Details of OEIT’s professional contributions are at


-       The DUE Infinite Mile Award was conferred on Jim Cain for customer service.

-       Dr Violeta Ivanova, in collaboration with the Math department and the Edgerton Center, received an Alumni Class Grant to develop a new undergraduate subject, Visualization in Mathematics, Science, and Technology.

Looking Ahead

OEIT is well poised to help shape and support new opportunities for education at MIT, particularly online learning, leveraging open education resources and innovative pedagogy. However resources concomitant with the growth and significance of its services continue to present a challenge for OEIT now exacerbated by successive years of deep budget reduction and will require new strategies and attention.

M. S. Vijay Kumar
Director, Office of Educational Innovation and Technology
Senior Associate Dean

More information about the Office of Educational Innovation and Technology can be found at http:// and




July 27, 2010

President's report of OEIT accomplishments, submitted in July 2010 for AY 2009-2010.

Office of Educational Innovation and Technology
Building NE48-308, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
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