MIT and Microsoft announce long-term collaboration for innovation in higher education

Alliance forms foundation for cooperative research efforts in technology-enhanced education


CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 5, 1999 -- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Microsoft Corp. today unveiled an ambitious alliance to conduct research and create new technologies that will improve information technology-enabled teaching models and educational tools for university education.

Dubbed "I-Campus," the alliance involves cooperative projects among students, faculty and researchers at MIT and members of Microsoft Research. In addition to assigning several staff members to I-Campus, Microsoft will allocate an estimated $25 million over the course of the five-year effort.

Based on a shared commitment to excellence in technology-enhanced education, Microsoft and MIT will focus on methods and technologies that could set the pace for university education in the next five to 10 years. In an effort to achieve broad impact, both MIT and Microsoft are committed to engaging additional academic and industry partners and to producing materials that adhere to open standards, with results and source code that can be widely published and disseminated.

"This alliance draws upon MIT's research expertise and our core strength of highly interactive teaching and learning," said MIT President Charles Vest. "Education-focused research supported by Microsoft will lead to new learning environments for our students and will make us an even better university. Still more important, the MIT-Microsoft alliance will help create knowledge and information-based services that can improve higher education worldwide."

"Microsoft views education as one of the great frontiers where information-based services and advanced technology can improve people's lives," said Rick Rashid, vice president of Microsoft Research. "Over the years, Microsoft Research has worked with numerous academic institutions and research organizations, and we are delighted to launch a new era of collaborative research with MIT. With MIT's tradition of world-class research and education and Microsoft's commitment to user-oriented software platforms, the makings of a great alliance are in place."

I-Campus will involve research and development in three broad areas in which information technology has a major impact on university education:

  • New pedagogical approaches and structures. Possibilities include remote access to laboratory instruments, new software tools for delivering education content, new tools to aid student learning such as tutoring and mentoring at a distance, and Web-based virtual museums.
  • Integrating information technology concepts and methods throughout university education. Examples include large-scale collaborative engineering design, the study of complex systems, and the creation of information-based curricula across traditional disciplinary boundaries.
  • Addressing the changing environment of university education. Options include providing education at a distance and lifelong learning to a larger community, and the impact of digital information technologies on academic publishing.

I-Campus will address education from the perspective of learners (students, alumni), educators (teachers, mentors) and administrators (managers). The alliance aims to create better learning environments for students, better teaching and curriculum development environments for faculty, and better infrastructure for university administrators to effectively manage and provide information services. The alliance begins with three initial projects: an expansion of the MIT Shakespeare Electronic Archive; the design of an educational system using a "global classroom" recently established between MIT and the National University of Singapore under the auspices of the Singapore-MIT Alliance (which also includes Nanyang Technological University); and an initiative in MIT's Aeronautics and Astronautics Department on the experimental use of distance collaboration in design courses.

Institute Professor Thomas L. Magnanti, dean of MIT's School of Engineering, will co-direct MIT's participation in I-Campus together with Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Hal Abelson. From Microsoft, Rashid is the executive sponsor and Peter Path�, general manager for Microsoft Research, will serve as the manager of I-Campus.

About MIT

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of the world's pre-eminent research universities, dedicated to advancing knowledge and educating students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century. It is known for rigorous academic programs, cutting-edge research, a diverse campus community, and its longstanding commitment to working with the public and private sectors to bring new knowledge to bear on the world's great challenges. For more information on MIT, see http://web.mit.edu/.

About Microsoft Research

Established in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. The goal is to develop new technologies to simplify and enhance the user's computing experience, reduce the cost of writing and maintaining software, and facilitate the creation of new types of software. For more information on Microsoft Research, see http://research.microsoft.com/.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. MIT and Massachusetts Institute of Technology are either registered trademarks or trademarks of MIT. Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft's corporate information pages. For more information about I-Campus, please see http://web.mit.edu/alliance/. This Web site will go live at 9 a.m. EDT Oct. 5, 1999.


Topics: Technology and society, Industry

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