S6-CT6-3 - Building a Community for Educational Transformation in Higher Education

1. Innovative Practice Work In Progress
Julia Reynolds-Cuéllar1 , Glenda Stump1, Aikaterini Bagiati1

WIP- Building a Community for Educational Transformation in Higher Education

Keywords: global collaborations, learning communities, project-based learning, sustainability in engineering education 

WIP. MIT has a long history of implementing hands-on, science-based, problem-focused engineering education by working on authentic real-life problems. This focus is embedded in the motto “mens et manus” or “mind and hand”, which encourages ideation and creation to solve current challenges facing the world. Most of the time, solving these types of large-scale problems requires strong, innovative, interdisciplinary approaches, as well as great understanding of the local setting. Within this context sustainability has been and remains at the core of the MIT curriculum. In addition to that, it is a core mission for the MIT Office of Open Learning to support educational transformation within the institute and around the world. In order for these goals to be fully achieved, institutional partnerships and global input are critical. After decades of one-to-one university engagements, MIT has developed a new innovative model for global university collaborations that is expected to provide scale as well as impact. 

In 2017 MIT Open Learning, with support from Community Jameel, founded the Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL), a consortium of global members. Through J-WEL, MIT works with member organizations to promote excellence and transformation in education at MIT and worldwide. Members participate in J-WEL via three collaboratives: pK-12 education, higher education, and workforce learning. This Work in Progress paper focuses on the work happening through the Higher Education collaborative, which is primarily composed of universities. Members come to the MIT campus several times per year for thematic gatherings and workshops. They also share progress on selected projects, and learn from each other. Engagement is designed to remain active throughout the year via both online and in-person mechanisms. 

This model builds on existing work in regards to the creation of global communities of learning and practice, while it also promotes and supports authentic problem-based learning as a means to support sustainability. The relationship between consortium members aims to be reciprocal, with each member having the opportunity to learn from others. Novelty is achieved by the fact that the consortium a) gets informed by a diverse global set of universities and other education-related entities presenting a diverse set of challenges and opportunities when it comes to transforming engineering education; b) includes all university stakeholders in the transformation (university leadership, faculty, staff, and students); c) allows for better understanding of global sustainability related challenges, and supports the formation of regional or worldwide research and development partnerships in order to address them.

There are currently 20 global higher education members who are working on 20 different goals regarding education transformation. The majority of them are considering how to address sustainability through education as well. Our future work includes building research partnerships between members through an innovation in education grant program, and assessing the outcomes of the collaboration facilitated by the consortium.