Magazine article Talent Development

Sanjay Sarma: Vice President for Open Learning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Boston, Massachusetts

Magazine article Talent Development

Sanjay Sarma: Vice President for Open Learning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Boston, Massachusetts

Article excerpt

The Fred Fort Flowers and Daniel Fort Flowers professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, vice president for Open Learning, and an adviser to several national governments and global companies, Sanjay Sarma is at the cutting edge of technology, education, and business. He has received several awards for teaching, education, and research, including the Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellowship, which honors MIT's best teachers and mentors; and InformationWeek's Innovators and Influencers Award.

THE MIT PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION WEBSITE QUOTES YOU AS BEING A DISRUPTOR. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

I've never described myself as a disrupter, but I do feel a certain urgency when change occurs around us. I feel that we need to confront it rather than ignore it and then become victims of change. There are some global trends at play right now-innovation, for example--and we need to respond to them by recognizing them and addressing their underlying causes, rather than ignoring them.

AT MIT YOU'VE PUSHED FOR BREAKING UP THE USUAL SEMESTER TERM AND ALLOWING FOR MORE PERSONALIZED LEARNING. IN FACT THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION DESCRIBES IT AS ESSENTIALLY REMIXING THE CURRICULUM INTO A PERSONALIZED LEARNING PLAYLIST IS THIS SOMETHING THAT CAN TRANSLATE INTO THE LEARNING CULTURE IN THE BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT?

Absolutely. In fact, it has to. Why do classroom rules have to apply in the business world? Knowledge in the business world need not be linear, nor does it need to be on a metered schedule. There is no weekly calendar with Economics 101 on Tuesday mornings at 10 o'clock, right? So, all these principles apply even more to the business world.

ONE OF THE CAPS THAT YOU WEAR IS THAT OF OVERSEEING THE OPENCOURSEWARE PROJECT CAN YOU DESCRIBE BRIEFLYWHATTHATIS AND WHERE IT STANDS?

The OpenCourseWare project was launched a little over 15 years ago by MIT. It was sort of a revolutionary thing where MIT announced that it was going to make its curriculum open to the world-I'm talking about lecture notes and things like that, but it also includes things like videos. We've had some 200 million unique users worldwide. We've taken more than 2,000 courses and made them available via OpenCourseWare.

THE AUTOMATIC ASSESSMENTS ARE A LARGE PART OF MASSIVE OPEN ONLINE COURSES (MOOCs) AND WHY THEY WORK. …

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