Human Learning

Human Learning

Carnegie Mellon University has launched The Simon Initiative to accelerate the use of learning science and technology to improve student learning.

Named to honor the work of the late Nobel Laureate and CMU Professor Herbert A. Simon, the initiative will harness CMU's decades of learning data and research to improve educational outcomes for students everywhere.

As part of the initiative, CMU will provide open access to the world's largest bank of educational technology data — detailed data about how people learn and how effective learning software can be designed and deployed.

CMU learning scientists have been performing research into every student interaction with learning software to reflect learners' activities for decades. This wealth of data now will be shared more broadly.

CMU also has called on experts from academia, industry and foundations to form the Global Learning Council (GLC).

A new consortium of education and technology research leaders, the GLC will develop standards, identify best practices and encourage engagement through the use of science and technology. The GLC is dedicated to open sharing of data and best practices among institutions and across sectors to improve learning outcomes for all. CMU will provide seed funding for the initiative.

"This council and The Simon Initiative arrive at a critical time for educators and students alike," said CMU President Suresh. "The world is experiencing an educational revolution, but there has not been sufficient effort to date to address the fundamental question: are students using these technology platforms really learning successfully?

"Carnegie Mellon has been studying how people learn with technology since the 1950s; working together with our council colleagues, our goal is to create guidelines and best practices that ensure academic rigor and successful learning for students worldwide."

"Advances in learning science and technology offer transformative potential in education and training nationwide, supporting the work of excellent educators to address longstanding issues of equity and accelerating the country's return to educational leadership," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "We as a country need to implement more proactive approaches to realizing that potential in education, as we have in other sectors. Providing a platform that can attract world-class talent and significant public and private resources is a critical step forward. Efforts like this new one from Carnegie Mellon will advance this vital conversation."

President Suresh, who is also former director of the National Science Foundation, is a member of the GLC and will chair the council. Other GLC members include leaders from academia, industry and technology. They are:

  • Anant Agarwal, President, edX;
  • Tan Chorh Chuan, President, National University of Singapore and Chair, Global University Leaders Forum of the World Economic Forum;
  • Anoop Gupta, Distinguished Scientist, Microsoft Research;
  • Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera;
  • Alan Leshner, Chief Executive Officer, American Association for the Advancement of Science and member, National Science Board;
  • Peter McPherson, President, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities;
  • Mark Nordenberg, Chancellor, University of Pittsburgh;
  • Hunter Rawlings, President, Association of American Universities;
  • Andrew Rosen, Chairman and CEO, Kaplan;
  • Alfred Spector, Vice President of Research, Google;
  • Suzanne Walsh, Deputy Director, Postsecondary Success, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and member, World Economic Forum, Global Agenda Council on the Future of Universities; and
  • Carl Wieman, Nobel Laureate and Professor of Physics and Education, Stanford University.
CMU's history in the learning sciences began in the 1950s, when Simon and CMU colleagues, including Allen Newell, advanced the fields of cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence and developed one of the first computer-based theories of learning.

Since then, the university has been at the forefront of understanding how people learn, through such activities as the development of computer tutors based on cognitive learning technology, learning games and courses.

Related Links: Read press release | Simon Initiative | Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center | Revolutionizing How We Learn | Reinventing Education | Teaching Gets Smarter | Open Learning: Scientists & Developers Unite | Carnegie Learning | Carnegie Mellon Today on Transforming America's Schools

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