Rate this response: 

Average: 4 (3 votes)

There were 3 questions in the e-mail I got from President Rafael Reif.

1. Are in person lectures a thing of the past?

No. In person lectures are a thing of the education. The people who think in-person lectures are a thing of the past are those who think that the purpose of education is to provide just a skill so that people can earn a living. However, the primary purpose of education is to help students become critical members of a democratic society. For this purpose, what is needed is interaction with good teachers who are themselves critical thinkers. Online education is basically corporate agenda.

What MIT needs to do is to keep its educational model, get rid of military and corporate influences so that people can in fact learn to think in which ever directions their minds want to think in. Of course, if students want to join the military or corporates after their education, no one is stopping them. However, in formative years of their thinking, students should be given an environment of freedom of thought.

2. What does the classroom of 2020 look like?

Classroom of 2020 looks exactly like the classroom of 1920.

3. Should we re-think the 4 year system of residential education?

The right question to ask is: how can we, with the time-tested 4 year system of residential education, help our students in fact become critical thinkers in society, rather than just standardized automatons.

I just do not think I need to say much. People like Henry Giroux are the right people to look to when asking these kinds of questions.

Education & Facilities, Educational experiences


More 3-question answers

I was also interested in addressing the three questions, so I'll just add my thoughts to magar's responses above :)

1)In Person Lectures:

I strongly agree that in-person lectures can be important; I took an edX class and felt that it was a completely different experience. As amazing as I found the edX platform, I can't imagine that replacing my classes.

Another post (https://future.mit.edu/future-education-0) talked about bad lecturers and the importance of recruiting good ones. One way to keep in-person lectures relevant is by having fantastic in-person lectures - I don't think I am the only Course 2 alum who thought that David Wallace's 2.009 lectures were always worth attending. I can't imagine edX replacing the humor and surprises in our lectures, not to mention the camaraderie between students in the class, laughing over his jokes or participating in classroom challenges.

2.009 was a particularly memorable class; unfortunately, this is not the "norm" for MIT lectures, so I understand why students could easily imagine replacing a more "typical" lecture with the flexible format of edX. But I do think that if all MIT lectures were as memorable as 2.009, perhaps we wouldn't question the relevance of in-person lectures - maybe that is how we should keep in-person lectures relevant.

2. Classroom of 2020:

Looks like David Wallace's 2.009 lectures!! Interactive, fun, relevant. ;)

More seriously - for the lectures with less interaction, I could imagine replacing lecture time with online lectures and spending more time in recitation. Usually, the breakdown of classroom hours for an MIT undergrad class is something like 3 hours of lecture, 2-3 hours of recitation/lab. Perhaps the 3 hours of lecture could be cut out completely, to be replaced by 3 hours of optional "extra recitation" - time spent going over more problems or tricky lecture concepts.

3) Re-think the 4-year system of residential education?

No. I completely agree with other posts that have said that an MIT education is more than just classroom knowledge - it's the environment and the people that count for much more.