The MIT Integrated Learning Initiative (MITili) is studying learning the MIT way: through rigorous, interdisciplinary research on the fundamental mechanisms of learning and how we can improve it.
MITili draws from fields as wide ranging as cognitive psychology, neuroscience, economics, health, design, engineering, architecture and discipline-based education research (DBER) to study learning from several perspectives. MITili considers the fundamental processes behind motivation, curiosity, knowledge acquisition, retention, mastery, integration, creativity, transfer, and self-efficacy at the individual level from pre-kindergarten to adulthood. At the system level, MITili researchers consider topics such as school effectiveness, school system design, social factors, education policy, the economics of education, and the impact of socio-economic status.
“The best of science with the best of practice to the benefit of people within the context of educational practice and research.” - Professor John Gabrieli, Director of MITili
The establishment of MITili is one of the actions MIT has taken in response to the 2014 Institute-wide Task Force Report on the Future of MIT Education.
MITili helps guide MIT’s activities in education. First and foremost, established learning science, combined with research from MITili, will inform residential education at MIT and help usher in new practices recommended by MITili. These activities will be coordinated with MIT’s Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education, the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education, and the academic departments of MIT. As part of this effort, the Dean for the Undergraduate Education is seeking ambitious proposals that reimagine linkages between undergraduate education and the student experience at MIT.
MITili is composed of researchers from the MIT community, and interfaces formally with the community through two groups: the Digital Learning Lab (DLL) and the Teaching and Learning Laboratory (TLL). DLL is a community of disciplinary experts based in MIT departments, including lecturers and postdoctoral fellows in departments across campus such as Physics or Mechanical Engineering, who are also experts in learning and in learning technologies. TLL, a longstanding office at MIT, provides advice and services to all departments. In addition, MITili will hold colloquia and workshops for the community at large – whether it is faculty, students or staff.
MIT OpenCourseWare has reached over 180 million learners worldwide in the 15 years since its inception. MITx, delivered through edX, has reached over 3 million learners with its extensive online courses. MITili will inform the content and delivery of these massive outreach efforts going forward. In addition, platforms such as OCW and edX have also proved to be a powerful tool for learning about learning, and will continue to be useful for scaling out and testing insights from the scholarship of learning from MITili and elsewhere.
MIT is also launching two new efforts which will provide further avenues for applying and disseminating the results of MITili. The first is the MIT pK-12 Action Group, which includes such efforts as the Teaching Systems Lab and the CLIx Project. The second is the launch of MIT’s Digital Learning Solutions, which will work with MIT Professional Education and MIT Executive Education to bring professional online content to working professionals around the world. This effort too will benefit from insights and scholarship in learning science from MITili and elsewhere.
MIT has engaged in research in education since its very inception. MIT’s founding principle, mens et manus, mind and hand, was revolutionary for its time. More recently, MIT faculty such as Seymour Papert have further refined thinking about learning and pioneered new philosophies such as constructionism, and educational technologies like the programming language Logo. Today, researchers at MIT are addressing learning from a rich variety of perspectives. Some examples include:
John Gabrieli is the director of the Athinoula A. Martinos Imaging Center at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT. He is an Investigator at the Institute, leading the Gabrieli Laboratory, with faculty appointments in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, where he holds the Grover Hermann Professorship.
Parag A. Pathak is the Jane Berkowitz Carlton and Dennis William Carlton Professor of Microeconomics at MIT, founding co-director of the NBER Working Group on Market Design, and founder of MIT's School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative (SEII), a laboratory focused on education, human capital, and the income distribution.