Instructor Insights

Instructor Insights

"The learner is forming a model of the world."
— Prof. Sanjay Sarma

Professor Sanjay Sarma is not only one of the instructors who taught this iteration of 2.003J Dynamics and Control I; he’s also Vice President for Open Learning at MIT, where he oversees innovative efforts to reimagine education, and he is coauthor (with Luke Yoquinto) of the recent book Grasp, which explores the nature of learning. In the episode of the Chalk Radio podcast embedded below, Professor Sarma discusses the differences between nominal learning, in which you memorize a fact or procedure but soon forget it, and real learning, in which you can effectively apply the skills and concepts you’ve previously mastered. When the format of education is consistent with what science tells us about how our brains store and retrieve information, Sarma says, real learning can be optimized. He argues that well-designed platforms for online learning are a vital resource for people worldwide who lack access to in-person education—like a glass of water to someone in a desert. But he also sees online learning as an indispensable tool for in-person education, allowing innovations that help to maximize the value of students’ and instructors’ time together, and he is optimistic about the potential value of online learning credentials as a pathway toward in-person degrees.

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