How MIT Plans to Develop Scalable,
Differentiated Instruction

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Here's how MIT and several partners are developing a Fly-by-Wire system to provide high-quality, differentiated instruction at scale and to better equip graduates to enter the workforce.


The US Department of Education has awarded multi-million dollar "First in the World" grants to 18 colleges and universities that are innovating to solve critical challenges with access, recruitment, retention, and student success. At AI, we have interviewed each of the recipients to learn more about the projects these institutions are pursuing, how their approaches are unique, and what other colleges and universities can learn from these new efforts.

This was the second year of the First in the World grants. You can read our interviews with the 24 institutions that received 2014 grants here.

by Lisa Cook, Academic Impressions

MIT, partnering with edX and Arapahoe and Quinsigamond Community Colleges, is developing a Fly-by-Wire system to provide high-quality, differentiated instruction at scale and to better equip graduates entering the workforce with skills valued by employers and industry.

Funded by a $2.9 million FIPSE First in the World grant, the Fly-by-Wire system is a digitally-enabled, differentiated blended-instruction intervention that is both scalable and cost-effective enough to meet the needs of learners at a range of institutions. To learn more, we talked with project director Karen Willcox, MIT professor of aeronautics and astronautics, and Casey Sacks, project master for the Colorado Community College system. They described how the project will create:

  • Fly-by-Wire modules and logic that relates curriculum to student skills and outcomes in order to enable targeted feedback
  • Digital Fly-by-Wire technology that enables professors to better differentiate and guide students with a more personalized approach
  • An online Fly-by-Wire system that can be scaled up and used at a variety of institutions

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