The announcement of the MIT-Microsoft alliance, Project I-Campus, comes against a backdrop of significant endeavors begun in the past few years intended to enhance excellence and effectiveness in education and research at MIT. These include:
- Establishment of the Council on Educational Technology to enhance the quality of MIT education through appropriate application of technology, to both on-campus life and learning and learning at a distance.
- Creation of the Educational Media Creation Center (EMCC) to support the production of sustainable, qualified media and web-based educational materials for MIT.
- A $10 million gift to the Institute by Alex d'Arbeloff (SB 1949), chair of the Corporation, and his wife Brit d'Arbeloff (SM 1961) to establish the d'Arbeloff Fund for Excellence in MIT Education that will focus on the process of education and support innovations by MIT faculty in teaching science and engineering.
- The Singapore-MIT Alliance, a large-scale, global collaboration in graduate engineering education and research with Singapore's two leading research universities, which may result in an "exportable model" for distance collaboration in research and education.
- Several strategic alliances in which MIT has joined with industry partners, with funds earmarked for enhancing education: the Ford/MIT partnership, which includes virtual education as one of three research areas and the study of engineering design and educational environments of the future as one of its initial priorities; the Merrill Lynch partnership, which includes funding for creating curricula at the interface of finance and computer science; and the Merck Partnership, which includes graduate fellowship funding for bioinformatics at the interface of biology and computer science.
- The System Design and Management Program, the Institute's only degree-granting educational program offered mainly at a distance.
- The planned construction of the Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences, which is expected to foster innovations in cognitive and computer sciences.
- The ongoing implementation of recommendations made by the Task Force on Student Life and Learning (1998), which include encouraging educational experimentation, and more specifically, performing carefully designed experiments in educational technology and in learning at a distance.
A historical overview highlighting some of MIT's innovations in education may be found on the Project I-Campus web site.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 6, 1999.