Focus on Educational Innovation

moderator: Charles M. Vest, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
author: Dick K.P. Yue, School of Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
author: Shigeru Miyagawa, School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
author: Henry Jenkins, Comparative Media Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
published: Feb. 22, 2014,   recorded: October 2004,   views: 1859
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Description

These MIT panelists discuss their efforts to expand the educational horizons of learners from K to well beyond 12 with new technological tools and resources. Dick K.P. Yue describes the impact of MIT’s OpenCourseWare program, which is making all MIT’s courses freely available on the web. With 900 courses already published, the site receives an average of half a million visits a month, from every single continent on earth. Avid users include educators, self-learners and students from other universities boning up on a subject. Yue says that OCW is MIT’s way of taking a stand against a “movement that completely compartmentalizes information and access to knowledge.”

Shigeru Miyagawa’s Star Festival CD-ROM features a personal narrative of ethnic self-discovery intended to ignite the interest of racially diverse grade-school children. Miyagawa has visited classrooms where children deny or suppress sometimes painful family histories. After children watch his CD, which includes details from his own family biography, they are challenged to interview family members “and find out about their heritage as a way of building cultural identity.” He says that children can be transformed by “powerful emotions and narratives.”

In the face of pedagogical orthodoxy, Henry Jenkins argues for more (and better) video games. Close to one-third of incoming MIT freshman admitted playing video games during class. “We need to turn that around and get the teacher to play games with students to take advantage of the medium,” says Jenkins. One of Jenkins new initiatives is “Revolution,” a multi-player classroom computer game populated with characters from Colonial Williamsburg, who represent “different political factions, economic classes, genders…” Says Jenkins, games “allow you to drill more deeply into content.”

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