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MIT educational video program heads to Malaysia

BLOSSOMS Initiative kicks off at the country’s University of Technology.

The MIT BLOSSOMS Initiative (Blended Learning Open Source Science or Math Studies) has been implemented at the University of Technology in Malaysia (UTM), according to MIT Professor Richard C. Larson, director of BLOSSOMS, and Datuk Dr. Zaini Ujang, vice chancellor of UTM.

The initiative provides interactive video lessons for high-school STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) classes. This initial one-year collaborative effort with UTM and MIT is viewed as Phase One of an anticipated larger multi-year program. Malaysia now joins other BLOSSOMS partner countries, including Jordan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and the United States.

The videos are all freely available worldwide for use in traditional classrooms. Each video is delivered in short three- to four-minute segments, where between segments the in-class teacher engages the students in active, hands-on activities.

Over half of the lesson time involves in-class, problem-focused learning with the students, with the video turned off. Each lesson is accompanied by a complete lesson plan. All slides, handouts and materials for each lesson are freely available to the teacher on the initiative’s website.

Implementation of the initiative will strengthen UTM's contribution to STEM education in Malaysia. UTM will seek out additional Malaysian partners — from the education and private sectors, and from nongovernmental organizations.

An MIT team will be at UTM to train UTM faculty members and select graduate students in developing BLOSSOMS lessons. This training will also become a type of “training for trainers,” in which those selected will serve as trainers for new video teachers in following years.

The goal is to design and create 20 new UTM-produced lessons to be posted on the initiative’s web site and to assist Malaysian high school teachers in teaching math, science and engineering. The MIT team will also train 100 Malaysian high school STEM teachers selected from throughout the country in the use of BLOSSOMS in classrooms. In order to participate, these teachers will pledge to use the video lessons at least twice in their classrooms and to complete an evaluation for each.

Through the initiative, UTM and MIT will seek to answer basic questions about student learning, especially in STEM subjects. Malaysia will become a primary country of focus, with a goal of having up to 10 co-supervised UTM PhD theses written on these and related topics. The initiative will also facilitate limited faculty visitations to MIT.

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