Cardinal & Gray Society Fall Virtual Speaker Series: Sanjay Sarma
Hi i'm whitney espic the ceo of the mit alumni association. And i hope you enjoy this digital production, created for alumni, and friends like you. Good afternoon. Everyone. I am rick lufkin, class of 1968. And honored, to be the current chair of the cardinal and gray. Sadly, i am not actually, seated in the barker engineering, library, right now, but rather like many of you, alone, in my office in front of my computer. That's the way it is these days. Welcome. To the first in our full series of talks. The colonel and gray society, looks at research, and learning at mit. The world, keeps spinning. Let me also extend a world, warm welcome this afternoon. To the emma rogers, society, members joining us today, your continued, loyalty, and engagement, is very much appreciated. We are grateful today to have the opportunity, to hear from the most distinguished. Mit, professor. I'll introduce, him by providing, you with a small subset of his accomplishments. I hope he will forgive me for omitting the rest. Professor, sanjay, sarma, is the flowers, professor, of mechanical, engineering, at mit. And the institute's, vice president for open learning. He was one of the founders, of the auto id center at mit. Which developed, the concepts, and standards. Of modern. Radio frequency, identification. Rfid. Now used by over 1 000 companies. On five continents. No doubt you're, all familiar, with the end user side of these technologies. Professor, sarmus, serves as the, chair of the gs1. Innovation, network, and on the boards and advisory, boards of a number of other well-established. And start-up companies. Many of his endeavors. He has been at the forefront. Of technologies. Now known as the internet, of things. Professor, zarma is co-author, of the award-winning, book. The inversion, factor, how to thrive, in the iot, economy. Dr sarma received, his bachelor's, degree from the institution. Institute of technology. His master's from carnegie, mellon, and his doctorate, from cal berkeley. He has authored over 150. Academic, papers, in computational. Geometry. Sensing, rfid. Automation. And computer-aided. Design. And is the recipient, of numerous, awards, from. Teaching and research. He advises, several national governments, and global companies. In his new book, grasp. Professor, sarma has drawn on his years of experience, directing, mit's. Many online, learning systems. Including mitx. And open courseware. With lessons, from the use of these platforms. And from ongoing, research, in cognitive, science. He offers a vision of how teaching, and learning, can be radically, improved, using new methods. Before. I pass over the virtual, mic i want you to know that you will have the opportunity, to ask questions. After his presentation. Please use the q a feature resume, at the bottom of your screen. Now, please join me in warmly, welcoming. Professor, sanjay, sarma. Thank you very much. A pleasure to be here. Uh to talk to you about, these strange, times, um. You know. I'll start by talking a little bit about, where we find ourselves. And, also offer, offer the view that we have an opportunity, to reset a little bit. In our educational. Systems. Hopefully, this, dark cloud. Has a silver lining.
So Here we are in zoom, um, in our various, basements, and offices, and humanity, hangs by a threat. I like to say that the 21st, century didn't begin in 2001. Or 2000, as uh, depending on how you count. It really begins in 2021. Because entire industries. Entire. Sectors, will be transformed. And we're all hanging, by, a thread which is technology. You know technology, is always good to have we did, what we did before somewhat better with technology. But here we are as an entire planet. Hanging. By this good to have it has become our only have. And so, um, when 2001, rolled around google was only there amazon is already there but here we are, depending, entirely, on, you know zoom and google hangouts. And. Amazon, for home delivery, and so on. So, this is a transformative. Year, and next year is the beginning of a new normal, uh or perhaps a new abnormal. Some people like to put it, and education, is no. Exception. Um, you know. This. Spring. 1.6. Billion students, were separated. From their teachers, and from their institutions. And around the world. They were. Either receiving online instruction, or some sort of, jury rigged. Form of instruction. When we talk about online instruction, it's really not what i would call cutting edge online. What they're receiving, is the worst of both worlds. On the one hand. They're receiving. Something, that we in in the universities, have been doing for. A thousand years which is uh, one-way, lectures. Um, and we're doing it on zoom now. And in zoom university, you have neither the charm of in person. Not the benefit, of true cognitive, science unfortunately. Um, and in any case. True online. Uh which any of you can see if you just go to youtube, and type in. Khan academy. Or open courseware. Or. For example. Three blue one brown which is grant sanderson's, channel. Or. Minute physics, or physics girl who's a physics, graduate from mit who does physics experiments, that are, amazing, that's true online. Zoom university, isn't that zoom university is, sort of managing, and doing. Lectures, online. True online. Um is asynchronous. Videos which are well produced, to. Excite, students together makes uh, interested. So they do it on their own accord. And it is, magnetic. In its power. And and then you can do other things for example you can do online. Assessments. Now you can gamify. It. And so on so zoom is sort of the worst of both worlds so when this. Pandemic. Which has confiscated. The privilege of in person from us. When it eventually, hopefully recedes, and we're back in person. I hope, the entire educational, establishment. Wakes up. And rather than recreating, what we're doing in zoom except we're doing it in person. I hope we. Look back. On. What we've been doing. Recognize. That it's based a little bit on historical. Dogma. And rethink, education. So let me talk about that a little bit. So our educational, system as it stands today. If you look at the history of universities. And schools for that matter. The earliest universities, were the um, universities, in asia, going back to, takshila, which was in ancient pakistan. Was a hindu and then buddhist university and the chinese, universities. And other hindu buddhist universities, and they got wiped out by the fifth sixth centuries. Uh during rev uh during, uh invasions, but some of those ideas survived. Then you go to the islamic, universities, like al quake. In. In morocco, which was founded, probably around. 900, a.d it's still a running university believe it or not. Um, um and, al-azhar. And then of course the, oxfords, and the bolognas. In europe, which actually owe their own a little bit to the islamic universities, that's where they got some of the concepts. In fact the first degree was something in arabic called the jazzers, which means permission. Because you gave a scholar the permission to treat someone else, but they were all based on monastic, traditions, they all came from you know educating, on. The holy book. Hindu, buddhist, christian. Jewish. The. Um, and also. Uh. Uh islamic. Um. And um, those were great sources of learning that's where a lot of our, traditions, come from. And so the, those universities, continued. For centuries, and then. Around. The, industrial, revolution, there were a couple of needs. Uh one was the need to educate. Of course workers, but also the need to, educate the workers children almost child care, and so, that.
And Other trends, sort of came together to define what is today modern education. And um it is based on all sorts of dogmas but the most fundamental, dogma. Which i think is um. I hope you will see, uh, and agree with me. Is um. Unfortunate. Is this. It is, the. The um. Implicit. Assumption. That the professor. Holds the pen. And the student's, brain. Is a sheet of paper. And all the professor has to do. Is write on that sheet of paper. And declare victory. And that is the fundamental, dogma. Of the lecture. Mit, was established. As you know, 1861. 1865, when he got going. It was established, with very different principle. It was established, in what we now know, from piaget. And the mit professor seymour papert. As the constructivist. Philosophy and the basic idea here is. The professor isn't writing on the student's. Brain. The student. Is building a model of the world, and the professor. Is. Feeding. That model. As the student needs it. And it's constructivist. Because students, are, on the one hand constructing, things which is mit but also in the mind in the process constructing, a mental model. Of the world, it's sort of like a plant. You don't give a plant, water when you want to give plant, give the plant water. Uh or a baby or a kitten right, you don't just give the plant, you know, it's, the water it needs in a lifetime, the first day and then declare victory. You give the plant water, sunlight. Potassium, nitrogen. As the plant needs it in fact it's called precision, agriculture. But, we have made that assumption, with learning. And that is fundamentally, false. The science of learning tells us some amazing things. Um you know. We are a hundred billion neurons. And. Um, we construct. A model of the world by pruning. The brain, the baby, the human brain is uh, is, very unique other in other animals. In that it is immature. For 15, 20 years, uh most animals become mature very fast and the reason is, that that learning which is a human prerogative. Is what makes us so adaptable, we can live in the sahara, we can live in the arctic. Um. And we can live in all places in between. And that adaptability. Is learning and the human prerogative. Is that. A baby, is designed to learn we're a learning animal, and a parent, is designed to teach, we're teaching animals. And all these principles. Actually, uh show up, um, in the cognitive, science of learning not just. For young people but also for all people it's the same instinct. I'll give you some. For example. You know every lecture, is what 40 minutes 90 minutes.
Whatever, And that's a made-up number that's a number based on, the clock it's not based on any understanding of human science it's sort of like, medicine, before the turn of the century. Or the last century. Before we entered the 20th century. We had no x-ray we had no genetics, we had no biochemistry. Imagine, dealing with covet when you didn't have that. You know, all you could do is bleed someone, or you know send them to, get fresh air we didn't have antibiotics. And learning is sort of caught in that world. And somehow we let it go. Um, because, we know now, that lectures should be about 10 minutes. The reason is. When a student whenever, when when the human brain is absorbing stuff, this by the way is called the prefrontal, cortex. Um. I think of it as the ceo of the brain. We get stuff into our senses. And then the hippocampus, the traffic carpents, forming memories. Um and about 10 minutes basically. You can't digest, anymore. You know, you. You can only digest, up to a chunk, and then the brain has to go into this mode. Which literally is called mind wandering, literally that's a technical term mind wandering. Where the brain is sort of taking the stuffs, making sense out of it, um, integrating, with other things you've learned, and what we do in lectures, we go on for 45, minutes. And after 10 minutes of the students brain wanders we sort of yell at them you know we make them feel guilty the index finger. Is what we somehow think we can get over the limitations, of the human brain it's not a limitation it's actually a beautiful thing. Um. At the end of 10 minutes, what should we do we should be asking. Individuated. Questions of each student well what do you think of that you know and that actually promotes long-term memory we don't do that because it's inconvenient. And um. And there's all sorts of other things by the way every parent knows this every parent knows. Can, see almost, feel from the back of a car.
Then The child's, eyes glaze over you can almost feel it in the back of your head. And you know to pause. Here's another thing it turns out that, forgetting, is a fundamental, part of learning, when you're forgetting something. In the brain what's happening is the synapses. When you form short-term, memory. The, synapses, connect using, a neurotransmitter. And, when you are forming long-term memory. Extra, synapse like if, physically the brain the neurons, drop, new connections. And, short-term memories. When you begin to forget them. If the student is reminded. The brain. Recognizes, that and drops long-term memories. Long-term, drops are extra, connections. And it's called long-term potentiation, it's actually one of the explanations. For something, uh called long-term potentiation, but the point is. We treat. Forgetting, as a sin whereas it's such a natural, thing in the human brain, we should be, recognizing. And encouraging, people. To come to the point of forgetting and then remind them but instead we treat it as some sin. And why do we treat it as a sin because it's so damn inconvenient, so we just ignore it we yell at the student move on. And every parent knows this as well. It turns out the best way to learn based on what i just said is, you want to let people forget things and then figure out they're forgetting them and then sort of remind them. And the parent knows that, you know you don't. You know when you're teaching your child something you teach them let them back off, you back off when they're done. And then you know when they're in the right mood in the back of the car maybe you hit them up again you say hey what about that thing, because you're actually instinctively, applying some of the principles i applied. When when i started studying. What cognitive neuroscientists. Have learnt over the last. 100. 50, 20 10 years. I began to realize, that rather than. These, these learnings, rather than being sort of cold-blooded. And clinical. Extremely, warm and intuitive and they reminded me of parenting, on the end of being a child. There are other principles for example here's one this by the way applies, not just in learning something but also, in. Learning sports. In fact i'll give you. A sports example. So let's say that. You're. You are, um. Uh playing a sport like tennis. Should you be doing. You know standing, in the back coat and hitting, you know backhand. Behind the, line, long backhands, or are you better off doing backhand volley backhand. You know, baseline volley baseline volley. The research, in sports and in learning shows you're better off switching. Baseline, volley baseline, volley why, and it's, and, if it's if you're learning, i don't know impressionist, paintings, and, if it's surah, money. And you're studying shuran you're studying money, you're better off doing surah, money surah money and not sure. Money money money. But yet every, book and every, teaching. Instrument, is based on chapters where you do the surah. And chapters where you do the monet. If you're doing you know calculate the surface area of a sphere and the surface area of a cone. Um. It's better to do sphere accounts for your comb but every book is spheres. And cones that's called interleaving. And the science, shows it and it the reason is because of two things one is we learn from the contrast. And the second thing is the actual learning. Is not the equation, for the sphere. The actual, learning is recalling. And reloading, that equation, or relearning, the. The algorithm, for the backhand, volley as opposed to the backhand baseline, shot. So these are all things and i've. Write about them in my book and others are written about them, but these are all amazing, things that every parent knows but that we completely, ignore. In the classroom. And instead we waste the classroom. Frankly, on one, way lectures. And especially at mit, we've tried to keep the tradition. Of the workshop, alive because of our men's admonis. Ethos, but also because, the um, if you look at the main campus of mit you see behind me, if you. If you, if you recall. The ceilings are all very high and the reason is it was a workshop. Right, and there's a reason we have a guy with a sledgehammer. On our logo. And. So the opportunity, here for all of us, is to. Really, when, nature which is confiscated.
Proximity, From us when it returns, it to us. We should. Um when we have the privilege of being, back together. We should really, really, think about, how are we going to make. Being in person, count, rather than squandering. It, frankly. And talking less about mit, but even about mit, but really the all of education. Rather than squandering. It. On one way lectures. So what's the future, well the future is. Asynchronous. Online. Videos which is what we do with mitx, which is what we do in opencourseware. And. I you know i consider myself a pretty good teacher, but i am humbled, every time i go to youtube when i look at some of the videos on math or physics. Or history. That are out there from, unknown, people. People who are passionate. And will put a lot of effort into how to explain something. Asynchronous. Videos. Now if you then build a scaffolding, around that asynchronous, video where you apply some of the tricks i described, such as. 10-minute lectures. Um. Spacing, out learning and looking for forgetting. Or or encouraging, forgetting and then hitting people up you can actually do that, language programs do that like. Babble, or. Duolingo. Or interleaving. If you build a scaffolding. Around that. The online, piece. Can do a much better job, than the regular lecture, in addition to everything else a professor, can pause. The student can pause the lecture fast forward, you know the favorite speed at which students listen to lectures today is about 2x. Um. Rewind, if they have to of they're distracted, they can pause it you have none of those advantages, in a lecture hall. And all you get is the finger wave. So if you did that. Actually. Students would learn better from the lecture but there are things that we can do in person. That you can only do well in person, and let's talk about that. One. So there's research, at mit and other places that shows that. The equivalent. For, hunger, and saliva, for the mouth. Is curiosity. And dopamine, in the brain. If you make a student, or a person, curious. Adult, child, doesn't matter. A circuit in the brain called the dopaminergic. Circuit, is awakened. And that is the learning circuit. That's our human instinct. Curiosity. If you if if we spend the classroom, working on context, and curiosity.
And By the way you can do that way better in the classroom, on in that beautiful campus, or any campus. Then you can do online online is getting pretty good at it so we've got up our game. Then that's, something, that we should focus on but that's just the start. Now let's say you wake someone up, with curiosity. And. You are able to get people going. And now they can go can, consume, the online content. And when they consume the online content they really get it it's exciting. Now they come back into the classroom. Now. You work on what you work on the things that mit, cares about and by the way, william barton rogers, absolutely, nailed it when i started this research i was concerned, that would be embarrassing, if some other signs showed that, men's and manus. Was a bad idea but i'm happy to say he absolutely, nailed it. Because when you come back to the classroom. You were first cured made curious than you when you consume the online content. Now you work on the things, that make you remember things better, and really learn, one. You learn and you you do projects. Two you do discussions. Disputation. You. Do problems, you do your homework in front of the professor. Or as you're doing proper, projects, the professor. Looks over your shoulder and does something. Really incredible. It's the c word. Coaching. There's a lot of research, on the power, of. World-class, excellence. And. There's a particular book actually that i recommend, by someone by the name of anders, ericsson. On the science of expertise. And he was studying things like. You know how did. Mozart, end up with perfect pitch is it a god-given, gift that was the assumption. But what he was able to show and actually the japanese are able to show. And, he reports, it in in his book peak, the science of expertise. Is that, learning. That is that coaching, can actually. Create, world-class, behavior, and perfect pitch the japanese are able to show. Can be recreated. And the japanese, experiment, which he refers to shows that perfect pitch is not given you have to start young it's a certain age group but you can create with a high probability. Perfect pitch. So um. In the classroom we should be work focusing, on, initially. Uh context, and curiosity. Students go and do online come back. Coaching. Projects. Agency, that's the third thing you want students to walk away with agency. I'll end with this. You know covet is going to. Really change the world as i said the entire industries, are. Have been devastated, retail, for example commercial, real estate is being impacted. Companies, aren't going to grow in the next year, some will, zoom exceeds. All the airlines i believe in valuation.
Together. But many companies won't, and so we're in for the gig economy the future of work is that more and more people will be self-employed. Freelancers. Which is great if we're all going to become more and more of us are going to be become. You know. Free agents. Regardless, of whether you believe in the gig economy. This is not a bad thing. But our students will need two things to survive in this world and the first is agency. An ability. And a self-efficaciousness. To actually, take on challenges, and to do things and many of you have achieved that and i think we want more of our students to have that. But the second is our students are going to have to become learning animals they're going to have to become the chief learning, officers of their own lives. And perhaps even more importantly. The ceos. Of their own life. And, if you look at our educational, system today to a large extent, it is designed, around. Um. Teachers. And professors. That's kind of the end. We've got to. See our. Our goal. Our purpose. As transforming. Every, individual. Student. And. Enabling, them to achieve their fullest potential. That means. To know more about sitting students down and you know giving lectures. Um and by the way we are great lecturers that's not the point. It's about. Creating. Systems. Where students can thrive. And using, all the. Science we've learned about learning. And to deploy it and during covet. Young people have spent will have spent a year training in this new world. I look at my own daughter, and she is out there scouring, the web looking for videos she has a good. Ear and a nose for what's valid and what's not. So when she walks into the classroom. Uh i think she'll expect something different and we better be ready for it and that's basically where mit is done what might he's done so with mitx, and edx. Maybe clarify. About 20 years ago we started open courseware where mighty gave its curriculum away for free to the world that reports to me now. And that's, you know 500, million downloads, it's really staggering, very reassuring. Right, if you go to facebook, people, put up pictures of the hummers. They're they're, they're the hummus they made last night, they go open course where they're actually downloading, content on quantum mechanics or linguistics, so it's really great. Um. Then in. In 2011. We launched something called mitx. Mitx. Is basically, a course. And it has videos. With interleaved. Problem sets the things i mentioned. The each video is 10 minutes so we, built a scaffolding. That is cognitively. Friendly. And, it's also, asynchronous. In the sense that you can watch the video now if you're bored you can sparse, if you're tired you're hungry, come back and watch it in the evening.
But, Every week there are assignments, at the end of it there's a final exam you get an exam you get a. Certificate. Uh we built that we gave it to the world. And we also deployed in our own classrooms, what to flip the classroom so everything i described, where you, do a different set of activities in the classroom it's called flipping the classroom so we did that with mitx. Once we created mitx, we realized that we needed to separate the content protection, production. From the platform, so we created, something called edx, the mit and harvard, invested. Tens of millions 40 million dollars each and we set up at x edx is a non-profit, entity. The ceo is an mit professor, an entrepreneur, himself. And he's the person who created mitx, in the first place. And mitx. Now is the content producer, harvard does harvardx, caltech has caltech, x, and edx think of it as youtube where we run these courses so that's what mit has done. And, with this we hope to impact. Not just. The, the. Vision of democratizing. Education. But applying, all the principles, that describe to cognitive science etc. And flipping the classrooms, at mit. And. Other schools, flipping their classrooms. And you know they don't have to shoot their own video you can do a lot worse than. Someone like eric lander giving a biology, course. You know some. Teacher somewhere. Might as well take advantage, of it you can do a lot better than eric lander. And so that's the system we've set up. And. When we come back from zoom university, and, resume regular, education. I have a feeling this is the future we will all head into for all the reasons i described. I'll, maybe one comment i'll say is our students right now three quarters of them are at home. Some are doing okay. Some are not. Many of our students come from very. Um, one of the great things about mit, is. How inclusive, we are and a lot of our students come from. Tough circumstances. You know they might they might have an internet connection we sent out. Um hotspots, to them they may not have a room where they don't have a. Young sibling, um. In the same room. It's hard for them to focus and concentrate, so it's been a mixed, bag. Mit has done everything it can i think we've been really generous we've sent out ipads to all our students we're giving, we've reduced, our, we give giving them five thousand dollars of. Grants so they can buy technology, or use it another way some students. Using it to buy. Food for all we know. So we've done everything we can these are not easy circumstances. But i hope we learn from it i'll stop there, and uh back to you rick. Thank you professor, sarma, i am. Always. Tremendously. Impressed, by the ability, of mit. Professors. To. Articulate. Extraordinarily. Complex, ideas. In words that, even i understand. So, i'm always always impressed. Um ladies and gentlemen, i wanted to start by just a reminder. Uh there is a q a button at the bottom of your zoom screen. Feel free to uh, uh, talk to communicate, with me by, via that, uh, feature. I will read. Your, questions. And professor sarma and i will then have a dialogue. We did get one question, seeded, in advance, by uh, tom willowness, from south carolina. Mr ralona, says. Um. Quote what do you think the, new normal, will be. After the pandemic. Regarding, online, learning for tertiary. Level undergraduate. Students. Will there be a return, to primarily, face to face, a blend of face to face, and online. Or a greater interest in online, learning. I think that um. Yeah i wrote an article about this a few years ago and this is what i mean a few weeks ago, uh seems like years. Ago. And what i said was this. The universities. That, that up their game. On in-person, education. Will end up doing blended, learning. More and more. In other words if you make the in-person. Experience, everything, online couldn't possibly, do the coaching, the projects, you know you can't do that online it's harder. Then, um, we'll end up in blended, i think a bunch of universities. Will try and go back to the old normal. In some countries they'll be protected by regulation. And, signaling, value, and tradition. In america. A lot of private, colleges, unfortunately. Because they actually have their pedagogy, right but. They may not be able to. Up their game fast enough. I think many will die it's going to be tough unfortunately. And i think. And when they die, a lot of their students will be orphaned, and where they're going to go they're going to flock to online. Right if they can't transfer to other schools so i actually see a massive increase in online. You know i am mister online i do you know i lead it but i have to tell you. I would never trade. Good, in person for online i'd not even close. But i will say. Good online. Will kill, indifferent. In person, so i hope that answers that question.
Let Me build on that to a degree, you mentioned earlier, how wonderful, it is to, listen to professor, lander. Speak on. Biology. To what extent, will our educational. System become. Overly, focused, on stars. Such as him. And you point out earlier that the other institutions, may, weaken. Uh and yet we have this quote star focus. That. It has the potential, to completely, change the dynamics. And the economics. Of, education. Potentially, but i actually think we shouldn't look at it that way i actually think coaching. Is a true star, starter. And everyone, can be a great coach. You know it's i mean so what if i mean look i, read, when i studied engineering, i had a, textbook, from mit. From crandall, dahlin lodner professor crandall, was, still around when i came back. And he was a god to me i'd never met the man, but my coach was the professor in india who really brought it to life. So similarly. People will see professor, landa, present, biology. But the coach, at the local university. Who says. You know here's the chlorophyll, that, you know we extracted here's how it behaves and here's how to think about the chemist that is that is the true, learning, so let's focus on coaching, is my view. Thank you. Another question from richard tavan. How will we retrain. Our teachers. Veterans. And emergers. To exceed, succeed, in this new educational. Paradigm. It's going to be i i mean i i, cannot um, i cannot, say i have an answer to that profound, question, um i do by the way the last people to blame in all this is the teachers the people to blame are the structures, you know the. Structures, that limit that my mother was a teacher. And i can tell you that. That, she would have agreed with everything we're discussing, you know, she does actually i asked her about it. And. The problem is the teachers, are, are. Limited by the structure so we need to in my view. As much as we, empower, teachers. And we also jerk the teachers around you know the pendulum swing of fads, do this do that do this do that it's just sort of we don't pay them enough so we have to address that, but i think we need to fix our structure. Veterans, i um you know i mean, uh. I come from a military, family as i was mentioning to rick earlier. I hadn't even thought of that, but i think that's a great opportunity, because they bring so much life experience. Um, my grandfather, who was in world war ii was, really my first coach, and the sort of wisdom he brought so that's a great opportunity. I don't have an answer, because, i don't talk too much about it but it, seems very attractive to me. Uh joel winnett, asks. Should we do more than remove. Yeah i'm sorry, should, we do more than remote, zoom. By having interactive. Online, teaching. Without a doubt. Zoom as i said is the worst of both worlds. You know um. I mean honestly, i'm not teaching this semester, but i would have said if i taught. I would have used my you my, iphone, actually i did that with, another course. That we taught in the summer. And short videos, and said to the students watch those videos. And when we meet in zoom, it won't be 90 minutes, of. Red eye. It'll be, 45, minutes of active discussion, let's say i'm teaching your dynamics. I would have said. Watch my video, on the math of dynamics, i'm going to make sure you watch it because i'll see that you you're logged in. I will and here's a project, i want you to find everything in your house that vibrates. A window that vibrates, when there's wind. The washing machine, the dryer, i want you to maybe. Use your i would you know write a program, to use your smartphone, to figure out the frequency of that this is very mit, right actually one of us colleagues get that, and when we come to the classroom. We're going to look at the vibration, and try and figure out we'll guess what it was, from the output. And what the input was and what the transfer function is so that's how i would do it for sure but my god just, blathering, on and zoom like i'm doing now. Unfortunately. I don't blame teachers for doing it they were caught they were all caught. Unaware, so we've we've, struggled but hopefully we'll get out of it. Tom neal makes a a an articulate, observation. Your talk was easy to follow and program, and profound. Thank you. Somewhat, tongue-in-cheek. He states. Did you break it up into 10-minute, segments. I actually did and actually the funny thing is that when i give this talk i break into 10-minute, chunks, and i ask questions so let me ask you all a question. What is this thing called. Prefrontal, cortex. Excellent, sir you got it so i'm going to remind you again tomorrow but yes you're exactly right i'm violating that principle, tom, and guilty as charged although you're very gentle about it.
And The problem is a lot of our structures are based that way right. The way we should have done this is i could have recorded, this video. Sent it to you in advance. You watch it in 10-minute, chunks, and after every 10-minute chunk we have an interaction. Right that's the way to do it, now we can we don't do that just because all our structures. Are so. Um, unshakable. Now the other thing i'll say is i wasn't teaching just to be clear to him the other thing is i wasn't, teaching. I was, frankly. Telling a story. There's a narrative there's an art to it and i was connecting some dots. And i was, and these are things you know as parents i was re invoking. Your, history, because as students as parents, as. Practitioners. You get it so i was not actually teaching just to be clear. But i i also note that. Even in our interaction, between you and me and the and the audience. Uh that the coach function is coming through, and that's where the learning occurs, in the in the nature of coaching so thank you yeah yeah i mean i think coaching we've got to really. You know i'd like to say that hierarchy. You know i grew up as an as you said in india and i went to school and i've been to very good schools but nonetheless there's a lot of hierarchy, there you know you always call the teacher sir and, things like that. And um. At mit, every student every. Freckled, 17 year old calls me dude and that's my greatest, honor right why because i want them to respect me and i want to respect them for what we are not because of, hierarchy, and i think hierarchy. Is um. Is a, in is a defense, for the insecure, you know to some extent. And that's one of the great things about mit, is that professors, are so accessible. Um. And i think coaching, also comes from that you know you can ask me a question i don't know the answer i'll tell you i don't know the answer we'll find out the answer together, you know. Karen aronson. Thank you for your fascinating, talk, are some people, inherently. More curious, than others. Are younger folks more curious, and older. Are there ways to cultivate. Curiosity. And where does self-discipline. Come into learning. Those are all brilliant questions so first of all i think every baby is curious otherwise why would she learn language. Learning language. Is an intellectual, feat greater than that say einstein, went through, right, or. Accomplished, when he you know came up with general, relativity. In his young, younger years in in zurich. So yes, curiosity. Is what drives humanity, i mean, you know and, uh and younger people are and i think we spend decades. Beating it out of kids, you know, uh to some extent to be blunt about it, i actually think curiosity, should be a pursuit, and i think it can be encouraged, i am i have the privilege, and pleasure of being a professor at mit which. In which, curiosity. Is my, i get paid to be curious. But i actually. So for me it's, you know i have an advantage, but i see, and meet people, all the time, who are just. Abuzz, with curiosity, and i think we actually, find those people interesting and intriguing, and fun and these are the people you want to hang out with, so absolutely, i think it can be awakened. I i once read a line that said, the cure for boredom, is curiosity. There is no there is no cure for, curiosity. And by the way on the interdisciplinarity. Thing. Oh sorry self-discipline, yes self-discipline, is a very important thing, and you know um there's a lot of work around it on grit. On. On. On the learn, learning mindset. We also know now for example, things like. We know that mindfulness, helps, self-awareness. I actually think we should be teaching more of that i mean think about it our students coming to mit. And they're going to spend four years learning yet we never teach them how to learn, we never teach them about self-discipline. We don't teach them the psychology, of it this is something. I hope we can fix, and i hope all of education, can fix. Randall, warniers. Many students are excellent, self-learners. While others thrive in the classroom, with all its interactions. How do your learning models, accommodate, these different learning, styles. Yeah just to be clear the word learning style has associations. Which. The term is used broadly, and, in most respects. That term is incorrect there was a fad about learning styles you just want to i don't think you meant it that way here. It is true that different, you know some people are more introverted, some people are more extroverted. And that's why in person, can accommodate, it all right that's why in person is so good, and so perhaps someone who's.
Who Is more, um, introverted. Um. Which. Actually i am uh, i'd like to study by myself, and really sort of ponder on things, ponder about things. Can benefit, from talking to others and learn to sort of interact. And maybe people are extroverted. Uh can see an integrated person learn from them as well so, we can accommodate, and in fact learn from each other and you also know that you know there's differences, and it's all fine. So, but yeah we do know there are differences i would i just would suggest not using the word learning styles because it has, connotations. That have since been disproven. So, it comes from an earlier fad. That, somehow some people who are visual learners and some people are auditory, learners and turns out those uh. Those, buckets, are, uh incorrect. Thank you, uh paul makapetra. Says. I enjoyed the talk but i have to ask whether a talk with slides, or other media, might not be better. A lot paul first of all lovely to hear your voice i've worked with paul for 15 or 20 years. He's a pioneer, on the in the internet. And every time you go to a uh. A. Website. You're using something that paul wrote the first spec for. So, great to hear from paul, uh paul we talked about it um i do have slides. And we decided, not to use slides, um, i'm, happy to send them to my friend and uh. Uh. But i sold the book there you go there you go yes there was an option. And, speaking of people you know, my wife ruth asks a question. Blended, learning, sounds great, but depends on the educators. Being brought up to speed. Are there things happening already, to help educators, become better coaches. Not systematically. Not systematically. I think that's got to happen systematically, i'll tell you the story of my daughter who's now 18 but when she was 14 she was learning. She learned, um. So she had a spanish teacher only in america by the way his name was senor tran he was vietnamese, american. And he was one of the most celebrated, spanish teachers in the country. And what happened was the kids started learning spanish. Online, using things like quizlet. And other things like that you know, various online media. And what he did was in the classroom, he realized the kids already knew. A lot of spanish. So he. He turned the classroom. Into a place where they just wrote skits, and they acted them out, and the kids, kids couldn't wait to go to class. And, then he would coach them. As they were acting out the skits. So you see that's a trick that's a very profound, trick. Do teachers know how to do this no we need to encourage them give them the, leeway but it goes hand in hand with also finding the online resources.
So A lot of, teachers are sort of caught in between. Yeah. Connie austis. Virtual, online, learning for young children, is challenging, for parents who need to be at their workplaces. They are dependent, on schools, for housing their children. Or long hours a day, how do you envision, learning. Slash teaching, for young children, post covid19. Well i mean let's not i mean i completely agree with that because. The. Education, has become so much a part of the system. It's not a good to have we need it as well for the rest of us to work you know sort of you know the systems evolve around that and optimized. But i do think that teachers, can use, online, material, in the classroom. Group watching. Discussion, so for example three kids watch a video together. And they, present it and they ask each other questions about it, and you break it up into groups of three, right, um. It requires, a rethinking, of of the entire classroom maybe the teacher motivates, it you know and says. Why are leaves green, well it's chlorophyll what do chlorophylls, do you know they what does chlorophyll, do and so on and then you watch the video in chlorophyll it's a ten minute seven minute lecture. And then you do something else so it has to be restructured, and it's not. Easy. John, o'connell. I agree that coaching, is what teachers. Should be doing because, learning is an individualized. Process. However there may be a limit to the number of students that could be meaningfully, interacted, with, at a time, how do we deal with this, great question, um first of all you know if you spend eighteen thousand dollars per students or fifteen thousand dollars per student. Surely some of that. I mean there's something's wrong if we can't quote students having said that. Maria montessori. Maria montessori. To to should be celebrated, as a hero. Because, she discovered, actually, even before her. In, asia it was discovered. That peer-to-peer, coaching, is almost as valuable, as expert coaching. Because if one student coaches another student. It clarifies, both students minds. And then what happens is the teacher can swoop in and say ah you got that mostly right but here's what i would do differently. And and so, on the montessori. Uh system. Sort of, attempted to take some of that on she did it by instinct. I should say that maria monteciori, when world war ii broke out because she was italian. She was put under. She was she was stuck in india should we say. And as a result there's a big montessori, movement in india and i benefited, from, and i can tell you it materially, changed me. I am what i am in part because of that, so yeah so yes coaching doesn't scale but beer coaching, helps. George starkshawl. Any thoughts about adopting, peer instruction. For online, education. Uh that's a great question sir and we do in fact so what we did was with edx, courses, we have. So what happens if a student has, you know, the great thing about online, edx, courses, is the marginal, cost is very low for us, here's what happens. You know if you have a million students. Or a hundred thousand students, and then, hundred and hundred thousand and. First student joins, it doesn't cost us a lot more, the students are questions they posted them to forums, or 4r. And other students answer, and the ta. Watches the conversation. The act of answering, questions actually. Flushes, out a lot of misunderstandings. And then the ta. Weighs in and says you know that was the right answer, so that's how we do both peer-to-peer, and we get scale. And it also, that's how we sort of address the question the previous, uh, the previous. Person asked. Claude gerstel. Should mit, have an admissions, test, to help pick the best candidates. What would it be would it be to find the best learners. What would be the parameters, of that test. So i, went through such a system i went to iit, the indian institute of technology, which had a very brutal admissions, test and we all had to, uh you know you had to be in the top 500, to get into mechanical. Electrical, or computer science.
And I made it i met my wife there she had a higher rank than me actually. Um. And you know it has its benefits, it also has its downsides. Because. If it if you could only reduce. Everything we look for in students, just. You know a math physics and chemistry, test, uh i don't think we can. And there's a subjective, quality to what we do at mit and i honestly, think we should preserve it. But you know i'm, also, happen to be you know the sats, are just to give you some more background. The sats. Iq, tests, on the one hand, you'll see this in my book, um. If you buy it. They are, they have. They were a little bit there's a sort of, um. There were there are pluses to them they're also negatives, for example. A lot of scientific, racism, was based on, um. Almost, wanton. Misinterpretation. Of things like iq. And the sats, baked in a lot of inequity, i mean a few years ago when my daughter was preparing for the sat. She asked me daddy what is a regatta. And i said why do you need to know what a regatta, is. You know, and she said it's in my sat and i'm thinking, well you know that same, word that was put in there. So that it was like a secret handshake, for a certain class of people, you know it was fortunate i knew what it was. But some other, child, their parent might not have. So i think i said he's wrong having said that. Sats, do. Correct. For certain other biases. So maybe, some combination, of standardized, tests. And. Well well-written, standardized, tests, might, achieve the same purpose. Paul glock. Sometimes. In our scheduled, society. An hour's worth of content, needs to be delivered, via zoom. Can you suggest, useful, ways to break up the content. Into bite-sized. Pieces. Yeah. I think we should do stand-up, classes, where you give students online, content where they can watch it at their own speed, um, you know, i mean the only good news here is. I mean look these are i mean i don't have a quick answer but if students could watch stuff online, you know on youtube or something. And, the class is at 15 minute. Jam session, on what we just learned. Right. Where every student presents, a point of view something like that. But these you know but it's one way the other this is a bit of a mess and there's no easy answer. I'm sorry that was actually peter miller's question, my apologies, to peter. Paul gluck's question was, how much of learning, happens by interactions. With other students. A lot, a lot because, um it's called elaboration. So when, you learn something. If you have to describe, it to someone else. It actually clarifies, your own learning and that's one of the secrets behind peer learning, you know the analogy, i use is. We used to live in belmont, and we hold we sold that house, 10 years ago, and the only day it was clean and neat. Was the day we had our open house. You know, so when you. Uh, teach someone else you're having an open house in your head so you've got to clarify your thoughts. And so teaching, and writing also. Are a high form of thinking. And peer learning, for that reason is very valuable. And coaching as well. Thank you. Bob moo. Um i have found that many. That my most successful. Students, are those who can ask questions, or comments. During a lecture. How can we incorporate, this into edx or equivalent, learning. That's a fantastic, question so um. One of the you know i've i i complained about zoom but one of the great things about zoom by the way. Is that zoom is also equalizing, because there is no such thing as a backbenchering.
Zoom. And a lot of students. Who never speak. In the classroom, we're finding, are very active in zoom. Apparently the same things happen in the supreme court just justice, thomas. Is speaking up a lot apparently, because of the online, medium. But there's something there, which is that so in fact when we come back to regular classrooms, we're thinking about recreating. A chat function in the classroom. Students who might not speak up, speak up on the chat. So. Interesting. Peter miller, if you have an hour's worth of content, to communicate. How do you suggest, breaking up a lecture. Wow. Very interesting question let me tell you that. If you do. Synchronous. Zoom lectures. Hour's worth becomes an hour and a half. If you do asynchronous. Videos, which you plan in advance, an hour's worth of lecture becomes about 40 minutes. The rule of thumb. So if i gave this lecture, but i recorded it it would take me about. You know, uh, two-thirds, of the time. Um, and i'm, you know i'm, but then if i take a of course this is not a it's dynamic, if i take dynamics, and i teach in the classroom but i want to do it over zoom, it takes me longer, if i take dynamics. And do a video. It takes me a shorter amount of time, so you can actually conserve, time it's actually better to shoot asynchronous, videos but it's you know difficult to shoot asynchronous, videos it's actually. Infuriating. To shoot asynchronous, video with an iphone. Going to sleep and all that stuff and you know, so i've done it but you can do it. Okay we got. Room for one or two more, uh john o'connell. I agree that coaching is what teachers should be doing because learning is an individualized. Process. However there may be a limit to the number of students, that can be meaningfully, interacted, with at a time, how do we deal with this yeah it's a great question john i mean as i said first of all you want, uh, coaching should be something everyone, does to everyone, it's a privilege, that's one. The second comment is that um, i think we do need to, increase this base of coaching so we have a class at mit, 2007. Some of you. Will remember the woody flowers who tragically, passed away. Um, this year. He created, it 2007. Is the robot contest. And what we do there is actually we, go and recruit, outside coaches, alums. Come people working companies. And coaching, is actually much more democratic. You know being a star lecturer. Some people are good at it some people, are indifferent that it but coaching. It's amazing. How good. A lot of people are actually researchers, a lot of researchers, are also good coaches curious people are good coaches, open-minded, people good coaches so. I think we need to expand the pool of coaches, and alums could play a huge role here, actually. The two words that most resonate. Is uh, curious, and coaching, from your your talk so thank you for that uh, that learning experience. Before i pass the baton. On to uh nancy mims, i just wanted to, specifically. Thank you, professor, sarma for your extraordinary. Insights. For uh, focusing, in on. Coaching, and curiosity. As the ideas, that will stick with us, um and i very much appreciate, your, willingness, to share your time with us uh today, um, nancy mims, is the, edu, is the admissions, office, i'm sorry the alumni, association's. Uh officer, that handles the cardinal and gray administrative. Elements, with extraordinary. Style, she's been doing it for a number of years, nancy, i'm going to pass the baton to you now to close out the tour, this afternoon's, talk, with a uh, an overview, of what's to come, in further, sections, of our series. On uh, the world keeps spinning at mit. Professor sarma, thank you, nancy, you're on. Thank you rick. On behalf of the mit, alumni association. Uh sanji i do want to offer our thanks as well thank you for spending time with us today this has been a wonderful. You gave a wonderful, talk and this has been a great, great conversation. To our guests in the audience today i want to thank you for bringing your questions and your curiosity. To today's lecture. It's been a pleasure, to. To listen to all of your questions, and uh we look forward to seeing you again. Before too long in fact i want to tell you about a couple of programs that are coming up soon. On november, 17th, we'll have another, uh. Talk in our series, and that will be joanne graziana. Who is a lecturer, from the. Mit, media lab and she has been studying. Uh catherine, dexter mccormick. And she's going to talk about, um. Catherine's. Uh life and legacy, as you, may know she was a member of the class of 1904. And went on to have a great influence, on our society, today. On december, 15th, we'll welcome. Professor, sarah seeger. She is, an astrophysicist. And will talk to us about her work, in, exoplanets.
As Well as her new memoir. So with that i want to thank you all again we will be sending, out a thank you email, shortly, and. Uh we'll ask you to take a short survey, we'll also include a link uh to a place where you can. Purchase, uh professor, sermon. Sarma's, book if you like, so thank you all again, and we look forward to seeing you next time. Thanks for joining us and for more information, on how to connect with the mit, alumni association. Please visit our. Website.