Final Report, MIT Committee on EVAT
Special Characteristics of MIT
MIT is a research-oriented university specializing in science and technology. It has many fine characteristics, of which members of the MIT community can be justifiably proud. However, MIT is in many ways no better suited for exploiting the World Wide Web than other universities. In contemplating what MIT could be like in the future, it is important to base the vision on a realistic assessment of its strengths and weaknesses.
So here are some of the things that we think make MIT special, perhaps unique:
- MIT's admissions are highly competitive, both at the undergraduate level and for every department at the graduate level.
- We pay great attention to all levels of education -- undergraduate, master's, doctor's, and post-doctoral.
- Our graduates have traditionally been successful in whatever directions their careers take them. This is due partly to selective admissions, and partly to our high educational standards.
- Many of our alumni/ae are very loyal -- they wear their brass rats with great pride.
- A lot of research goes on; faculty and students alike are kept in touch with the frontiers of knowledge through personal participation in research.
- MIT and its faculty are world renowned for their research contributions.
- MIT people, both students and faculty, are exciting. It is fun to be around them.
- MIT incorporates new technologies into its environment. The most recent example is the Athena system, which is woven fully into the fabric of MIT.
In many other ways, related to use of the Web or related technologies for education, MIT does not seem to have any special advantages:
The committee's vision of MIT's potential use of advanced technologies for education is consistent with this description of its strengths and weaknesses.
- The Web is well known by all universities. The fact that we specialize in science and technology means that we might have developed the Web (we didn't) or guided its future (we hope to), but does not give us any special knowledge about its uses for education.
- Authoring tools will be available widely. There is no reason to suppose that we have a unique ability to write them or use them.
- Our students have, relatively quickly, learned about the Web. And new MIT students, being interested in science and technology, are apt to be Web-aware. However, soon the Web will be so pervasive that all students, at all universities, will be familiar with it.
- Our computer networks are good, and we can make them even better. However, many other universities also have good networks.
- We have begun to incorporate new technologies into our mainstream teaching effort, but success here is proving more elusive than many had earlier hoped. There is no reason to believe that we have been more successful than other universities.
This page revised June 1, 1995. Your comments about this report are welcome.
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