EducPros organized a learning expedition in Boston from April 27 to May 2nd in partnership with PRIME and Agence Régionale de Développement Paris Île-de-France, CDEFI (Conférence des Directeurs des Ecoles Françaises d’Ingénieurs and FNEGE) – Fondation Nationale pour l’Enseignement de la Gestion des Entreprises.

There were 20 participants, representative of French Grandes Ecoles, universities and the French Ministry of Education.

Genuine immersion into the heart of innovation, this transatlantic trip was a unique opportunity to meet teams from MIT, Harvard, but also to discover edX, the Broad Institute, and many other places of innovation (cf. program below).

Agenda of the Learning expedition:

  •  April 28 : Harvard University  – Digital Office; Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard; MIT Entrepreneurship, Martin Trust Center; MIT –  Office of Digital Learning; edX
  •  April 29 : MIT France – Harvard Catalyst – Wyss Institute Harvard – MIT – Venture Mentoring Service  – The Lab Cambridge – French Alumni  night at Boston University
  •  April 30 :  Babson College – Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship – NERD, Microsoft New England Research and Development  –  Boston University – Office of Technology Development
  •  May 1st: Boston Museum of Sciences – IGEM, International Genetically Engineered Machine – CIC, Cambridge Innovation Center -Venture Café “Rethinking the Learning Experience”: technology showcase, with start-ups in the education field (LearnlaunchX…), MOOCs and university teachers who created there start-ups, VC, entrepreneurs…

Among the speakers and interviewed people, there were:

  •  Perry HEWITT Chief Digital Officer – Harvard University
  •  Ana CUELLAR Chief of Staff – Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship
  •  Johannes HEINLEIN Strategic Partnership and Collaboration – edX – MOOC of MIT & Harvard
  •  David Altshuler,Chief Academic Officer– Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard
  •  Donald E. INGBER PhD Director, Head of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering – Wyss Institute Harvard
  •  Carrie FITZSIMMONS Founding Director – ArtSciences Prize Cambridge
  •  Randy Rettberg President International Genetically Engineered Machine competition
  •  Tim ROWE Founder and CEO Cambridge innovation Center

Road 128 : Harvard and MIT invent the school of the future

The 2014 promotion of the Boston learning expedition had the opportunity to visit Harvard, number one in almost every international ranking. Created in 1636 and named Harvard because of its principal donor, John Harvard, it the oldest American university. It counts 47 Nobel prizes, 48 Pulitzer prizes, 32 chiefs of state, 21 000 students paying on average 11 000 dollars per year (60 000 dollars for those who have no help) and an endowment fund of 32 billion dollars.

The group also visited MIT, one of the most innovative research center in the world located around an extraordinary large network of public and private research centers, and start-up incubators that allow them to find market outlets for the new technologies discovered, especially in the biotech field.

Before the invention of MOOCS (online mass classes) MIT had put on the internet hundreds of freely accessible classes (the project was called MIT Open Courseware) ten years ago.

After that, MIT has opened a digital education office whose mission is to organize content production and to catalyze and diffuse good practices.

A specialty of MIT is also to mix distance learning education and classic classes: the students are supposed to read the online course before coming and to answer a quiz which allows the teacher to see to what difficulties the students are confronted with. The class begins then with the difficulties are identified thanks to the quiz. After that, the teacher asks the students to solve a problem in 20 minutes by groups of three. The students are allowed to work together, with the help of five assisting teachers who go from one group to another to help them for any difficulty they might encounter.

MIT Venture Mentoring :  learning by doing 

MIT Venture Mentoring Service is a service that was created in 2000 and allows young entrepreneurs to be helped by mentors. Each year, 180 successful volunteer entrepreneurs help out. They can’t be paid for their help and they can’t take any share in the companies they help, to avoid any conflict of interest.

About 20 companies go each year to MIT Venture Mentoring Service, among which one from Tristan Jehan, a graduate from Rennes University, who completed his courses at MIT.

Passionate of music, he came up with the idea of a technology able to source from all the available resources thanks to the internet to create automatically coherent music programs.

“Learning by doing is the best way to succeed in a business” he said, and it is also MIT’s moto.