In keeping with its reputation for innovation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology has created a new kind of laboratory.
Instead of science experiments, this lab is dedicated to providing education to those who are underserved — particularly women and girls in developing countries and refugees.
Campus Technology reports that the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) will use MIT’s existing open education and learning initiatives to develop an understanding of what kind of education works best for children, university students and workers.
“MIT has been a pioneer in the field of digital learning, opening our doors to the world,” reports a video describing the lab’s collaborative environment.
Discovering New Ways to Give Students 21st-Century Skills
A major part of the lab’s mission, as outlined in the video and on J-WEL’s website, is to “bring together educators, technologists, policymakers, and societal leaders to address global challenges in education.”
The lab is focusing its education research to do three specific things:
- Reinvent pre-K–12 education. By reaching children when they first start school, they help prepare students for the future.
- Renew higher education. By looking for ways to update college-level courses with technology, they help make students more employable.
- Revitalize workplace learning. By determining what skills workers need today, they will be better informed to shape workers of the future.
Through all of this, the MIT researchers will look to develop new learning tools and technologies, create best practices and policies for educators globally and advance curriculum and teacher preparedness.
“Through J-WEL, we will forge new and long-lasting collaborations as we learn, share, and train together, using the assets developed at MIT as well as by leveraging the community convened by J-WEL,” says MIT’s Vice President for Open Learning Sanjay Sarma in a news release. “To borrow an idea expressed by philosophers and educators across the centuries: J-WEL will help to spark fires in students’ minds, and enable educators to spark solutions to their communities’ most demanding challenges.”
Technology Fuels Global Learning Initiatives
In recent years, the use of technology as a tool to create more learning access has been growing. Google recently announced a grant program to train teachers and help students in areas of crisis learn through digital tools.
“Technology can bypass the geographic and financial boundaries that block educational resources from reaching students, while also making those resources more engaging, interactive and effective,” writes Google education lead Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink in a blog post.
Colleges like San Jose State University have taken advantage of collaboration tools like Cisco WebEx to create a partnership with social work students in Vietnam to create dynamic education for all involved.