The MITUPV Exchange, is an online community where students of intermediate Spanish at MIT and students at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) in Spain, some of whom are studying English, collaborate in creating a virtual university. At times there have been participants from other universities in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. Students learn from each other by direct participation in posting and commenting on photos, drawings and videos and by exchanging links and text messages in bulletin boards and through chat sessions. Aspects of the university experience range from academics (e.g., videos of lab experiments), to activities, sports, and residential life. The basic pedagogical design of MITUPV as an open community derives from its origin as a class project by undergraduate students Aimee Lee and Kathy Lee, supervised by graduate student Bryan Che in Fall 2000 for the MIT subject 6.916 Software Engineering for Innovative Web Services, taught by Harold Abelson and Philip Greenspun; its pedagogical design for experiential language learning originated in a classroom activity, "La universidad utópica," created by Douglas Morgenstern and used in third-semester Spanish classes during the last decade. Much of the original design was based on student input; almost all of the content is student-generated and changes weekly and sometimes daily. This paradigm differs from that of projects where content is shaped or created by teachers for students to manipulate.
The project began with support by Foreign Languages and Literatures at MIT. In Spring 2001 the MITUPV Exchange received an Award by the MIT Alumni Funds of the Classes of 1951, 1955 and 1972 for additional design work and maintenance. Because of its intensive use of online video, MITUPV has received server support by Academic Computing and the Educational Media Creation Center.
Unlike other foreign language projects where the Webpage design is begun from scratch with particular foreign-language pedagogical objectives, the design of the MITUPV Exchange reflects the design norms of the course in which it was programmed, and which builds upon a template based on very specific kinds of programming and database design (ArsDigita.com). Functionality includes uploading, downloading and commenting with threaded messages in both languages, a changing spotlight where community participants suggest topics and community members vote on future topics, a "people" section which lists participants who can choose to post photos and attach homepage links to their names and email addresses, a calendar section used to post events, a chat room, a configurable "what's new?" section which lists recent activity in all categories, and a "teach me" section, similar to PowerPoint, which is intended to test various approaches to distance learning of specific subjects or topics. The result is a very open and robust Web site, a "community," that can accept input of various kinds from its users.
On the MIT side, MITUPV Exchange is directed by Douglas Morgenstern, who also edits, compresses and uploads the videos created by MIT students. Additional sections of Spanish III have been taught in recent semesters by José Ramos who also contributes to the project. Below, there are available essays (in Spanish) written by Adolfo Plasencia, who directs work on the site at the UPV, and is also Director for Europe for the project, and by Rafael Seiz (PDF), who coordinates the work of students studying English.
"MITUPV Exchange: Transformar la formación humanística mediante la tecnologí" (PDF)
by Adolfo Plasencia, Lecturer and Project Director for the Masters Program in Multimedia Applications for the Internet, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia
"El Proyecto MITUPV Exchange para la ETSID (UPV) de Valencia" (PDF)
by Rafael Seiz, Lecturer in English, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia