How MIT Learns

Judging by the work of its alumni and faculty, MIT is an amazing place for learning. Yet, it's not obvious how the learning actually happens. We wanted to find out, so we started asking different groups of people on campus. What we heard was fascinating. The stories of learning at MIT are full of surprises, diversity, and humility - and are delightfully unexpected. Hint: Not many of them take place in lecture halls!

During the last few weeks of summer 2014 we interviewed students, alumni, administrators, faculty, researchers and other members of the MIT community to better understand their experiences. We loosely applied the creative learning framework (projects, peers, passion, play) to their stories, but were always happy to follow the strands of our conversations wherever they led.

We heard first-hand accounts of MIT's underground hacker culture, learned surprising things about the evolution of student confidence, and realized that faculty and students have much more in common than their titles might imply. We heard stories about failure and resilience and the irresistible urge to build things. And the more we learned, the more we wanted to ask.

Learning about learning at MIT was the first step. Telling the story of learning at MIT is the next. We want to share what we found, but writing blog posts or academic articles doesn’t feel right. So we teamed up with a stop-motion animator to create the short video above, offering you a glimpse into the experience of creative learning at MIT. We hope that this video helps you to get a sense of what this place feels like.

MIT is a unique institution, but the stories we heard could have taken place in many other settings. In documenting our findings, our goal is not to promote how wonderful MIT is, but to celebrate the diversity of learning and shed light on ways that other institutions and communities can support such learning in their own contexts. Moreover, we hope this project will encourage others to start telling their own stories, emphasizing the things that makes learning at their institution so special and unique.