MIT launches initiatives to accelerate learning research, applications

New efforts aim understand learning, improve it at all levels of education

MIT-learningMIT is launching a significant expansion of programs in learning research and online and digital education, including the creation of the MIT Integrated Learning Initiative (MITili), along with a new effort to increase MIT’s ability to improve STEM learning from pre-kindergarten through high school.

During the announcement, MIT President L. Rafael Reif also made mention of a program to support faculty innovations in MIT residential education and new work to enhance MIT’s continuing education programs.

The MITili initiative will be led by Professor John Gabrieli, and the STEM learning effort will be led by Professor Angela Belcher.

In keeping with the high priority of these new efforts and of the entire field of digital learning, Professor Sanjay Sarma, now dean of digital learning, will oversee them in the newly created position of vice president for open learning, reporting directly to Reif.

Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart, who will share responsibility with Sarma for several aspects of this work, predicts that the programs will have “far-reaching and tremendous implications for education — for MIT students as well as for students not at MIT.”

A set of related FAQs can be found here.


The integrated science of learning — now emerging as a significant field of research — will be the core of MITili (pronounced “mightily”), a cross-disciplinary, Institute-wide initiative to foster rigorous quantitative and qualitative research on how people learn.

Next page: More on the new learning research initiatives

Laura Ascione

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