MIT innovation could humanize online education programs

Based on its success, the Caesar program is already being expanded into other MIT programming courses, and the technology might be adopted by edX, the MOOC platform founded by MIT and Harvard University last spring.

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Miller understands that, although students certainly can benefit from the accessibility that online learning programs offers, human interaction and feedback remain essential in the larger educational scope.

“Ultimately, I believe that crowd sourcing is going to develop hand-in-hand with automatic mechanisms for making online education work, because there are so many aspects of learning that require a human touch,” he said.

He’s also used Caesar to review code in multiple languages like Java and Python. He believes the larger idea of crowd sourcing can, and will, become accessible to other types of courses in the future.

“The essential idea of crowd-sourced review—dividing student work into smaller pieces and distributing those pieces to a mixed crowd of reviewers who comment on and discuss them—is likely to be applicable to many kinds of courses, including liberal arts, business, and social sciences, not just technical [courses],” said Miller. “We’ve used these ideas in other domains in the past, such as document editing in the Soylent system, so I think they would transfer well.”

CSAIL has long been a significant contributor to the technological world and has had a hand in multiple advances in the past 50 years. Miller hopes that Caesar will become CSAIL’s next touted revolution.