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Learning without Barriers / Technology without Borders is a two-day symposium hosted by MIT and Microsoft Research on Friday, December 1 and Saturday, December 2, 2006, with a welcoming reception the evening of Thursday, November 30.

This event, at MIT, will mark the completion of the MIT-Microsoft iCampus Research Alliance for Educational Technology. The morning of Friday, December 1, speakers will focus on the role of technical education in national competitiveness, and on improving technical education in the U.S. and globally. John Seely Brown describes how increasingly pervasive information technology changes the relationship between learners and knowledge, and how this creates significant new opportunities for improving technical education, even as it poses significant new challenges for maintaining U.S. technical preeminence among nations.

This is followed by moderated conversations among presidents of premier technical universities, directors of research of leading information technology companies, and government representatives concerned with national competitiveness. Panelists consider the respective roles of research universities, the high-tech industry, and government, to meet the demands of effective technical education. Questions are posed to the audience to stimulate reaction and discussion.

The interactive midday session over lunch, where we break into groups for facilitated discussions of issues raised during the morning.

We then reconvene to hear engineering deans from leading universities introduce work in educational technology by outstanding faculty members at their institutions. After that, MIT President Emeritus and President-elect of the National Academy of Engineering Charles Vest reflects on the role of openness in innovation, education, and research in a future increasingly dominated by globalization.

The formal day ends with a closing by the MIT President Susan Hockfield. An evening reception at the MIT Museum, where conference participants will have opportunities to network and to examine interactive exhibits demonstrating projects supported by the MIT-Microsoft iCampus educational technology alliance.

The program on Saturday, December 2, takes up the role of technology in education. Dan Atkins, the National Science Foundation's Director of the Office of Cyberinfrastructure, outlines the need of the nation's information infrastructure and NSF's agenda for addressing these needs.

Then we return to an moderated discussions, with audience participation, among leaders from academia, industry, and government. We'll hear their views describing what educational technologies have been effective, and their recommended priorities for future investment.

The afternoon gives attendees an opportunity to participate in a variety of workshops featuring research from the MIT-Microsoft iCampus Alliance in Educational Technology.

Students on KC-135

MIT students test mini-satellites they designed in zero-gravity conditions on NASA's KC-135 aircraft. (Image courtesy of NASA, 2000)

Studio-mode physics

Undergraduates perform desktop electromagnetism experiments in MIT studio-mode physics.

Truss Lecture

MIT mechanical engineering lecture on the analysis of truss Structures.