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Division of Student Life launching online education initiative

Alumni support to fund innovative experiential learning curriculum.
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Division of Student Life

MIT’s investment in online education is transforming how the Institute teaches and how students learn. Now the Division of Student Life (DSL) is preparing to join the online learning revolution, thanks to the support of two alumni.

Michele Kaliski SM ’87 and Burt Kaliski ’84, SM ’87, PhD ’88, longstanding supporters of MIT’s Public Service Center, have launched development of a student life and experiential learning curriculum with a gift that they hope will engender additional support from other alumni. The curriculum is intended to teach fundamental skills and principles usually developed through DSL-sponsored activities — such as project management, team dynamics, civic engagement, diversity, collaboration, and leadership — through an online platform. 

To lead this effort, Sally Susnowitz, current director of the PSC, will take on a new role as director of the DSL-MITx Student Development Initiative, which will manage DSL’s online learning strategy and assets. “Sally has worked at the PSC since 2000, and was instrumental in its growth from a local volunteer organization that focused on education to a global network of social entrepreneurs,” Chris Colombo, dean for student life, wrote in an email to DSL staff. “Sally will work with colleagues within DSL and elsewhere at MIT to ensure that the student experience is engaging and rigorous, in keeping with MIT’s pedagogical standards.”

Beginning this month, Susnowitz will lay the groundwork for the curriculum with the goal of hosting it through MITx, the Institute’s portion of the edX online learning platform. With DSL colleagues and other collaborators, she will also establish an iterative cycle of experiments, refinements, and expansions that will result in well-developed, well-tested educational modules by fall 2019.

With this announcement, DSL will start a search for a new PSC director. In the meantime, Natalie Britton, director of strategic initiatives, and Alison Hynd, director for programs and fellowship administrator, will oversee day-to-day operation of the PSC.

Colombo added, “This is an exciting time for DSL as we explore the potential of online education, and consider how we as educators can help more students develop these important skills and principles.”

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