Here, You Do It – MIT Looks at Online Education

Listen up. MIT has a few things to say about the future of online education. In “Online Education: A Catalyst for Higher Education Reforms” (2016) Karen E. Willcox, Sanjay Sarma and Philip H. Lippel took an in-depth look at the meaning of online instruction and the direction in which it should head. This was the last of several explorations of this aspect of education at MIT, and it has strong implications for the rest of us.

I like it when educators with good reputations from prestigious schools synthesize the research for me. It’s hard to be especially effective at being current in the field of education, which is so expansive and has so many interconnected subjects. And, well, I’m always one to make a case for being lazy (see Lazy is Underrated – Unmanaging Our Time Through Embodiment). Balanced might be a more appropriate word, though.

This work covers the background of online education, as well as looking into the essential parts of teaching such as assessment, educational technology and the other disciplines that are integrated with education. If you’re interested in learning more about online education, you can get a solid perspective here.

The result of their work ends with four recommendations: Recommendation 1: Increase Interdisciplinary Collaboration Across Fields of Research in Higher Education, Using an Integrated Research Agenda, Recommendation 2: Promote Online as an Important Facilitator in Higher Education, Recommendation 3: Support the Expanding Profession of the “Learning Engineer,” Recommendation 4: Foster Institutional and Organizational Change in Higher Education to Implement These Reforms.

Here is the link to a HSTRY timeline that uses other resources to support and explore these ideas in more detail: MIT Online Education Policy Initiative 2016.

Things to think on:

  1. What other disciplines do you integrate into or that influence your teaching?
  2. How do you use these other disciplines in the classroom?
  3. What other subjects are you interested in that could affect your teaching?

Tools that I used for this post:

HSTRY for the timeline
Pixabay and Adobe Photoshop for the photos


Willcox, Karen, E., Sarma, Sanjay & Lippel, Philip H. (2016). Online Education: A Catalyst for Higher Education Reforms. Massachusetts Institute of Technology ONLINE EDUCATION POLICY INITIATIVE FINAL REPORT. Retrieved from:

Thanks to Mark for proofreading!

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