Initiated in 1999, iCampus is a research collaboration between Microsoft Research and MIT whose goal is to create and demonstrate technologies with the potential for revolutionary change throughout the university curriculum. iCampus-sponsored innovations have had broad and significant impact throughout MIT, and they are continuing to evolve through worldwide multi-institutional collaborations.
iCampus projects are selected from MIT faculty responses to annually issued requests for proposals. In addition, iCampus has awarded over $1.5M for projects conceived, initiated, and run entirely by students.
More than 400 faculty and research staff, and 300 students, have participated in iCampus-sponsored projects. Virtually all MIT undergraduates have taken subjects whose development was sponsored by iCampus – over 100 subjects in all.
Innovation has focused on:
- Using Web Services to enable a new educational information technology framework of software and services shared among universities worldwide
- Transforming the classroom experience by replacing traditional passive lectures with active learning experiences supported by information technology
- Educational applications of emerging technologies such as speech recognition and pen-based computing
- A radical replacement of MIT’s largest lecture course, Electricity and Magnetism, by an active learning environment where small groups of students, working together, use simulation tools and perform experiments;
- A major transformation of MIT’s introduction to Computer Science that incorporates on-line lectures and automatic homework checking;
- A fundamental conceptual overhaul of MIT’s program in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering that integrates design throughout the entire curriculum;
- The replacement of MIT’s lecture-based introduction to Mechanical Engineering with small-group engagements, supported by desk-top experiments and on-line study modules;
- A faculty-created infrastructure that allows Web-based access to real laboratories; in effect, “if you can’t come to the lab, the lab will come to you”;
- The development of video technology that lets students study Shakespeare’s plays by creating multimedia essays;
- A new approach to professional education in Architecture, which complements face-to-face studio environments with robust online communities;
- Provocative new approaches to using electronic games and virtual environments in education;
- The creation of new resources, shared across the School of Engineering, for learning Fluid Mechanics; and
- The ongoing demonstration of how Web Service architectures can promote collaboration and sharing of educational computing infrastructure within and among universities.
- The support of student lead research projects with over a million dollars awarded directly to MIT undergraduate and graduate students.
The iCampus initiative supports MIT’s clear, overarching strategy for educational technology:
- To transform the classroom experience to promote active learning;
- To promote the intellectual commons;
- To foster new modes of inter-institutional collaboration; and
- To build the extended university community.
For a more detailed discussion of these strategic goals, please visit MIT’s Council for Educational Technology.
From the start, Microsoft Research has seen the iCampus project as an important step in establishing Microsoft as a leading technology partner for higher education.
Specifically, the iCampus alliance creates a framework for researchers from MIT and Microsoft to:
- Create new interactive learning models for project based science, mathematics and educational technology learning;
- Build tools that define the cutting edge of excellence in teaching, with a focus on creating experiential learning environments;
- Publish educationally innovative content for wide-scale distribution; and
- Develop educational utilities—Web services for learning—that assist in assessment, administration and content management.