Microsoft’s iCampus Project Complete

    December 18, 2006

The seven-year collaboration between software giant Microsoft and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, known as iCampus, concluded last week.

It was a truly brilliant idea, infusing the one of the most creative research groups with the top technological institution, in an experiment to discover how such a union could benefit the educational process.

After Microsoft and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) wrapped up their symposium “Learning Without Barriers/Technology Without Borders”, it marked the culmination of a seven-year collaboration between the two.

Microsoft Research has invested over $25 million in The MIT-Microsoft iCampus Research Alliance for Educational Technology since it’s creation, and has enlisted the assistance of over 400 faculty members, students, and researchers.

In addition, 5,000 students participated in content that was enhanced by iCampus; generating more than 70 published academic papers based on iCampus research.

“This is the largest investment we’ve made into this type of program at an academic institution,” Sailesh Chutani, director of Microsoft’s External Research & Programs Group stated.

According to a Microsoft press release, iCampus programs include “classroom exercises powered by Tablet PCs, to remotely accessible laboratories that give students access 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to archived classroom materials, soccer-playing robots, annotated multimedia Shakespeare courses, GPS-tracked shuttle systems and a host of other applications that have enhanced the academic lives of students and teachers alike.”

One particularly innovative breakthrough is the Classroom Learning Project, which enables instructors in large classrooms to annotate their Power Point presentations simultaneously on both the screen, well as tablet PC’s distributed to students prior to the lesson.

MIT being the institution that it is, students are naturally interested in robotics and artificial intelligence. Another iCampus project created soccer-playing robots, which compete in at both the national and international levels in “Robo Cup”.

Other highlights of the project include International Genetically Engineered Machine Competitions (IGEM), MIT Online Assessment Tool (iMoat), Remote Online Laboratories (iLab), Natural Interaction, and Cross Media Annotation System (XMAS).

Along with the many technological innovations produced by the union, MIT and Microsoft hope to have left a lasting mark on the face of education.

Chutani, of Microsoft, states, “The iCampus experience has given us very interesting insights into what works and doesn’t work with regard to technology in academia. We expect to see a lot of activity as other institutions examine the results of this work and begin building on it.”

Add to | Digg | Reddit | Furl

Autmn Davis is a staff writer for WebProNews covering ebusiness and technology.