Editor's note: As of March 1, 2013, OEIT moved into the Office of Digital Learning.
This is the second in a series of articles from the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education (DUE) that answers the questions: What does that office really do? Who works there? And how does the office advance/impact education at MIT?
What is OEIT?
You may believe that the name of the Office of Educational Innovation and Technology (OEIT) gives you a good sense of what the office does: It’s about bringing together technology and educational innovation. But what does this really mean?
At the core, OEIT is focused on improving teaching and learning at MIT. What OEIT does is explore, develop and disseminate innovative uses of technology that enable the faculty to make education more meaningful to the students:
- Supplementing a biology classroom lecture on genomics with a visualization and analysis tool that enables students to compare different patient tumor samples and identify common characteristics based on global patterns of gene expression.
- Creating a multi-layered time-line of the year 1917 in Russia to enable students to view and analyze this very complex period from different human perspectives and timeframes and begin to make their own connections and conclusions.
- Developing interactive math applets for use in a differential equations class, and as the basis for homework assignments, to help convey how differential equations represent the behavior of real systems.
- Using voice recognition to make videos, such a classroom lectures, searchable which allows students to supplement their learning by easily finding video content related to a particular topic of interest.
Education as a core focus … Technology as a core competency
OEIT is focused on pedagogy-led rather than technology-led innovation. Unlike academic computing at other universities, OEIT is not IT-driven. As Senior Associate Dean and Director of OEIT Vijay Kumar noted:
“It is important not to start by selecting the technology. We first go to our faculty to understand what they would like to achieve educationally and identify what is getting in the way. Only then do we look at exploring what sort of technology could be brought in to address the issue.”