Clara discusses MIT’s professional education initiative that is run in an online-offline hybrid format.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to yourself as well as your work at MIT that is relevant to online education.
Clara Piloto: I work at MIT Professional Education. I’ve been here for about nine years but have also been working in the continuing education and lifelong learning field for almost 20 years. Before that, I worked in finance and healthcare.
About 15 to 20 years ago, I made the transition to lifelong learning. I work under MIT Professional Education, which was established about seven years ago.
We try to make MIT more attainable and accessible for many people around the world. We do this through our in-person, online course, and in-company courses. This is one way that I try to live MIT’s vision and mission. I do that through professional education.
Sramana Mitra: When you talk about professional education, what is the professional world accessing at MIT the most?
Clara Piloto: A lot of people are not familiar with professional education here at MIT even though we’re seven years old. Even a lot of students that go through MIT are not very familiar with us. I’ll try to educate about us a bit.
Our programs are non-credit and non-degree. They’re designed and led by MIT faculty. We make our courses available to global professionals from every corner of the world. We don’t have an admissions process. We might have some prerequisites for some of our courses and recommend certain background, but it’s basically an open enrollment model.
We currently have a hundred open enrollment programs and courses right now that are offered on campus and online. In addition, we offer custom programs and blended programs.
Sramana Mitra: Can you tell me a bit more specifically where is the traction of the MIT Professional Education program? What are people trying to learn?
Clara Piloto: What we focus on are courses in STEM. Anyone can come here and take courses anywhere from downstream processing, fermentation technology, Blockchain cyber security, data modeling, design and manufacturing, and leadership and communication.
We even offer courses in real estate. Not many people know that MIT has the number one real estate center in the world. What we focus on is the technology area which includes leadership, innovation, and certain communication courses.
Sramana Mitra: Who is delivering these courses? Who are creating these courses?
Clara Piloto: They are led and created by MIT faculty. We have internal designers for online and blended courses. In some ways, it’s not unique, but there are very few major universities that use their own faculty to lead professional courses. We also invite MIT alums to do webinars for us. We also work and recruit industry learning facilitators to be part of our courses.