February 15, 2023
From the MIT News article:
DEMOCRATIZING EDUCATION: BRINGING MIT EXCELLENCE TO THE MASSES
By Kaitlin Provencher | Institute for Data, Systems, and Society
How do you quantify the value of education or measure success? For the team behind the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society’s (IDSS) MicroMasters® Program in Statistics and Data Science (SDS), providing over 1,000 individuals from around the globe with access to MIT-level programming feels like a pretty good place to start.
Thanks to the MIT-conceived MicroMasters-style format, SDS Faculty Director Devavrat Shah and his colleagues have eliminated the physical restrictions created by a traditional brick-and-mortar education, allowing 1,178 learners and counting from 89 countries access to an MIT education.
“Taking classes from a Nobel Prize winner doesn’t happen every day,” says Oscar Vele, a strategic development worker for the town of Cuenca, Ecuador. “My dream has always been to study at MIT. I knew it was not easy – now through this program, my dream came true.”
“With an online forum, in principle, admission is no longer the gate – the merit is a gate,” says Shah. “If you take a class that is MIT level, and if you perform at MIT level, then you should get MIT level credentials.”
The MM SDS program, delivered in collaboration with MIT Open Learning, plays a key role in the IDSS mission of advancing education in data science, and supports MIT’s overarching belief that everyone should be able to access a quality education no matter what their life circumstances may be.
“Getting a program like this up and running to the point where it has credentials and credibility across the globe, is an important milestone for us,” says Shah. “Basically, for us, it says we are here to stay and we are just getting started.”
Since the program launched in 2018, Shah says he and his team have seen learners from all walks of life, from high schoolers looking for a challenge to late-in-life learners looking to either evolve or refresh their knowledge.
“Then there are individuals who want to prove to themselves that they can achieve serious knowledge and build a career,” Shah says. “Circumstances throughout their lives, whether it’s the country or socioeconomic conditions they’re born in, they have never had the opportunity to do something like this and now they have an MIT-level education and credentials, which is a huge deal for them.”
Many learners overcome challenges to complete the program, from financial hardships, to balancing work, domestic life, and coursework, and finding private, internet-enabled space for learning – not to mention the added complications of a global pandemic. One Ukrainian learner even finished the program after fleeing her apartment for a bomb shelter.
Remapping the way to a graduate degree
For Diogo da Silva Branco Magalhaes, a 44-year-old lifelong learner, curiosity and the desire to evolve within his current profession brought him to the MicroMasters program. Having spent 15 years working in the public transport sector, da Silva Branco Magalhaes had a very specific challenge at the front of his mind: artificial intelligence.
“It’s not science fiction; it’s already here,” he says. “Think about autonomous vehicles, on-demand transportation, mobility as a service – AI and data, in particular, are the driving force of a number of disruptions that will affect my industry.”
When he signed up for the MicroMasters Program in Statistics and Data Science, da Silva Branco Magalhaes’ said he had no long-term plans, but was taking a first step. “I just wanted to have a first contact with this reality, understand the basics, and then let’s see how it goes,” he describes.
Now, after earning his credentials in 2021, he finds himself a few weeks into an accelerated master’s program at Northwestern, one of several graduate pathways supported by the MM SDS program.
“I was really looking to gain some basic background knowledge; I didn’t expect the level of quality and depth they were able to provide in an online lecture format,” he says. “Having access to this kind of content – it’s a privilege, and now that we have it, we have to make the most of it.”
A refreshing investment
As an applied mathematician with 15 years of experience in the US defense sector, Celia Wilson says she felt comfortable with her knowledge, though not 100 percent confident that her math skills could stand up against the next generation.
“I felt I was getting left behind, she says. “So I decided to take some time out and invest in myself, and this program was a great opportunity to systematize and refresh my knowledge of statistics and data science.”
Since completing the course, Wilson says she has secured a new job as a director of data and analytics, where she is confident in her ability to manage a team of the “new breed of data scientists.” It turns out, however, that completing the program has given her an even greater gift than self-confidence.
“Most importantly,” she adds, “it’s inspired my daughters to tell anyone who will listen that math is definitely for girls.”
Connecting an engaged community
Each course is connected to an online forum that allows learners to enhance their experience through real-time conversations with others in their cohort.
“We have worked hard to provide a scalable version of the traditional teaching assistant support system that you would get in a usual on-campus class, with a great online forum for people to connect with each other as learners,” Shah says.
David Khachatrian, a data scientist working on improving the drug discovery pipeline, says that leveraging the community to hone his ability to “think clearly and communicate effectively with others” mattered more than anything.
“Take the opportunity to engage with your community of fellow learners and facilitators – answer questions for others to give back to the community, solidify your own understanding, and practice your ability to explain clearly,” Khachatrian says. “These skills and behaviors will help you to succeed not just in SDS but wherever you go in the future.”
“There were a lot of active contributions from a lot of learners and I felt it was really a very strong component of the course,” da Silva Branco Magalhaes adds. “I had some offline contact with other students who are connections that I’ve kept up with to this day.”
A solid path forward
“We have a dedicated team supporting the MM SDS community on the MIT side,” Shah says, citing the contributions of Karene Chu, MM SDS Assistant Director of Education, Susana Kevorkova, the MM SDS Program Manager, and Jeremy Rossen, MM Program Coordinator. “They’ve done so much to ensure the success of the program and our learners, and they are constantly adding value to the program – like identifying real-time supplementary opportunities for learners to participate in, including the IDSS Policy Hackathon.”
The program now holds online ‘graduation’ ceremonies, where credential holders from all over the world share their experiences. Says Shah, who looks forward to celebrating the next 1,000 learners: “Every time I think about it, I feel emotional. It feels great, and it keeps us going.”
January 30, 2023
MICROMASTERS LEARNERS FROM UTEC URUGUAY VISIT MIT
The partnership between IDSS and UTEC Uruguay supports graduate students enrolled in the UTEC Program in Data Science, including tailored support for the IDSS-created MicroMasters Program in Statistics and Data Science. In October of 2022, learners from UTEC visited the MIT campus to celebrate their completion of the program.
The UTEC Program in Data Science is a blended learning program that builds upon the MicroMasters Program in Data Science and Statistics. After completing four courses and a capstone exam, successful students transition to the subsequent residential master’s program at UTEC. UTEC is an MITx global pathway school, one of many worldwide offering credit toward the completion of a graduate degree to credential holders of the MicroMasters program.
“We are the first generation to access this training in Uruguay, which makes us pioneers in what is also a new field itself,” said María Eugenia Pastor, a UTEC learner who works for a global fintech company. “When you say you have a MicroMasters from MIT, people say ‘Wow.'”
There are now 78 MicroMasters credential holders from UTEC, 14 of whom were able to visit MIT in the fall. They met with IDSS faculty and students, and the IDSS MicroMasters team, led by EECS professor Devavrat Shah. “By no means is this a small feat,” he told them, praising their commitment to the rigorous program.
UTEC learners were given a guided tour of campus and the MIT Museum, and took time to see sights in the Boston / Cambridge area. They were also presented with printed and covered copies of their MicroMasters credential.
Hear from MicroMasters credential holders from UTEC Uruguay:
January 23, 2022
Research, education, and connection in the face of war
"I wouldn’t let the aggressor in the war squash my dreams,” says Ukrainian mathematician and MITx MicroMasters learner Tetiana Herasymova. That’s why Herasymova sought out the MITxMicroMasters Program in Statistics and Data Science offered by the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS).”
Tetiana Herasymova registered for her MITx program’s final exams just days prior to moving into a bomb shelter. Despite war all around her, Herasymova remained determined to complete her goal — she passed all of her exams in May, the final step to earning her MITx MicroMasters certificate in statistics and data science.
September 29, 2022
Podcast: Data Nation
IDSS takes a holistic and data-driven approach to analyzing complex, high-impact systems in society. In discussing the challenges our society faces – systemic racism, data privacy, misinformation, among others – we rely on expertise and knowledge from a variety of disciplines.
In Data Nation, the podcast produced in collaboration with Voxtopica, our faculty engages in conversations with industry experts on how to find solutions for these problems. Each episode unpacks a different example of how data can be used to lead, mislead, manipulate, and inform the public’s viewpoints and decisions.
We face many overwhelming challenges in America today: systemic racism, data privacy, and political misinformation. These are big problems, and there are a lot of opinions and ideas on how to fix them. Scholars and industry experts often disagree on how to find solutions. So, how can we find the right way to move forward? We let the data speak for itself. Join hosts Liberty Vittert and Scott Tranter as they gather data and get the facts about today’s most pressing problems to find out: are solutions even possible? They’ll investigate with MIT professors dedicated to researching these issues, and talk with the people on the ground encountering these problems every day so that we can find the best solutions that triumph over these challenges and solve America’s biggest problems.
Find new episodes here every Thursday, or subscribe to the podcast feed on Apple, Spotify, or any other podcast platform.
July 12, 2022
Online MM Completion Celebration Update
2022 MM SDS Presenters - Completion Ceremony
MIT Open Learning and the MicroMasters Statistics and Data Science Program (SDS) are proud to share with you the link for our third MM Completion Celebration, which occurred virtually on June 23, 2022.
Featured are three recent MM SDS credential holders who have shared their experiences in the program.
January 26, 2022
Supporting Women in Data Science
We are excited to engage in a special campaign that aims to encourage learners who identify as women to participate in the MicroMasters Program in Statistics and Data Science.
This campaign is set to launch with Probability- The Science of Uncertainty and Data, a natural entry point into the MicroMasters Program in SDS, starting on January 31, 2022. The MM SDS program will offer limited scholarships in the form of 25% discount codes to select participants who identify as women. The discount code may be used towards verification within the Probability course.
July 22, 2021
Online MM Completion Celebration Update
MIT Open Learning and the MicroMasters Statistics and Data Science Program (SDS) are proud to share the link for our second MM Completion Celebration, which occurred virtually on July 9, 2021.
Over 700 learners and their families watched the show live.
The event recording includes brief remarks from IDSS leaders and MIT faculty, including MicroMasters Program in Statistics and Data Science Director Devavrat Shah. Also featured are three recent MM SDS credential holders who have shared their experiences in the program.
We are very proud of all learners and look forward to celebrating next years group!
Note — The SDS portion of the video begins at approximately 33:00 through 44:00.
MITx MicroMasters Program in Statistics and Data Science announces new Data Analysis elective
New course focuses on hands-on applications of data analysis across disciplines
A new elective course in the MITx MicroMasters Program in Statistics and Data Science (SDS) offers an increased focus on applying data science to complex, real-world problems. Data Analysis: Statistical Modeling and Computation in Applications launched February 15, 2021, and is open for enrollment now.
Read more on the new elective course Data Analysis: Statistical Modeling and Computation in Applications in the MIT Open Learning article here.
Note: If you have already purchased the MITx MicroMasters Program Bundle with the elective course 14.310Fx, you will need to contact edX customer service team if you wish to take the new 6.419x elective course instead.
Celebration Times: IDSS Educational Partnership with Aporta Celebrates the First Cohort of Graduates in Peru
On February 6, 2021 Aporta and MITx MicroMasters Program in Statistics and Data Science (MM SDS) came together (virtually) to celebrate the learners of Cohort 1 as they completed 18 months of intensive learning of completing the MM SDS credential.
In the spring of 2019, Peruvian social impact group Aporta launched the Advanced Program in Data Science and Global Skills. Through an education partnership with IDSS, these learners take courses in probability, statistics, machine learning, and data analysis offered through the MIT MicroMasters in Statistics and Data Science.
Read all about the partnership with Aporta and MM SDS in the IDSS article A TRAIL-BLAZING COHORT.
MAKING DATA-INFORMED COVID-19 TESTING PLANS
A new web Covid-19 Testing Impact Calculator at WhenToTest.org has been developed by MIT researchers with the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS), in collaboration with the Consortia for Improving Medicine with Innovation & Technology (CIMIT), to help organizations around the world answer these questions.
Investment and Advancement is Key: MIT Professor Devavrat Shah on the Recommendation Engine Industry of the Future
An exciting new article, Investment and Advancement is Key: MIT Professor Devavrat Shah on the Recommendation Engine Industry of the Future is out and you can read the full article on MIT xPRO here.
Below is an excerpt form the article:
The market for recommendation engines is predicted to grow by USD $3.57B in the next four years, according to a recent report from Technavio. What’s the story behind these growth numbers? We talked with MIT Professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and co-founder of machine learning startup Celect, Devavrat Shah, about the findings from this recent report and to discuss his predictions for recommendation systems technology.
We’re all familiar with Amazon recommendations or the carousel of curated shows and movies that appear on your Netflix profile. You have likely interacted with a recommendation engine if you researched a school, searched for a new dentist, or visited a dating site. And there are a multitude of opportunities beyond consumer applications, for everything from government policy and supply chain to market dynamics and competitive landscape.
"What gets more meaningful results is offering options, like an optician with lenses. Which is better, this one or that one? And it’s not just important what you buy, but what you don’t buy.” -- Professor Devavrat Shah
Regina Barzilay - Course Faculty for Machine Learning course in MicroMasters Program in Statistics and Data Science (MM SDS) -- wins $1M Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Squirrel AI award.
MIT professor announced as award’s first recipient for work in cancer diagnosis and drug synthesis.
Read the full story at MIT news!
We are excited to announce and share that MM SDS professor Regina Barzilay was awarded $1M by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Squirrel AI award. Professor Regina Barzilay is the first recipient of the Squirrel AI Award for Artificial Intelligence for the Benefit of Humanity.
For more than 100 years Nobel Prizes have been given out annually to recognize breakthrough achievements in chemistry, literature, medicine, peace, and physics. As these disciplines undoubtedly continue to impact society, newer fields like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics have also begun to profoundly reshape the world.
In recognition of this, the world’s largest AI society — the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) — announced today the winner of their new Squirrel AI Award for Artificial Intelligence for the Benefit of Humanity, a $1 million award given to honor individuals whose work in the field has had a transformative impact on society.
The recipient, Regina Barzilay, the Delta Electronics Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and a member of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), is being recognized for her work developing machine learning models to develop antibiotics and other drugs, and to detect and diagnose breast cancer at early stages.
In February, AAAI will officially present Barzilay with the award, which comes with an associated prize of $1 million provided by the online education company Squirrel AI.
New Data Analysis Elective - 6.419x Data Analysis: Statistical Modeling and Computation in Applications
The MicroMasters Program in Statistics and Data Science is excited to announce that starting Spring 2021, a new data analysis course---Data Analysis: Statistical Modeling and Computation in Applications, will become an additional offering as part of the MicroMaster Program in Statistics and Data Science.
This new course is a hands-on introduction to the interplay between statistics and computation for the analysis of real data. Learners will apply their fundamental knowledge on randomized control trials, hypothesis testing, linear regression, principal component analysis, and learn and implement common models and methods to analyze specific types of data in four different domain areas:
- Epigenetic Codes and Data Visualization
- Criminal Networks and Network Analysis
- Prices, Economics and Time Series
- Environmental Data and Spatial Statistics
Each module will have homework that will guide learners to analyze a real data set from the domain of focus. They will use python, R or other software of their choice to perform full analysis and improve their data visualization and communication skills through written reports in homeworks.
6.419x Data Analysis: Statistical Modeling and Computation in Applications will be an elective course in the MITx MicroMasters Program in Statistics and Data Science, juxtaposed against 14.310/14.310Fx Data Analysis for Social Scientists/Data Analysis in Social Sciences--Assessing your Knowledge. See here for more information on the course.
What this means is that to complete the SDS MicroMasters Program, learners will need to take the 3 core courses, and 1 elective; and for the elective, learners can choose either 14.310x Data Analysis in Social Science—Assessing Your Knowledge /14.310Fx Data Analysis in Social Science—Assessing Your Knowledge, or the new elective course 6.419x Data Analysis: Statistical Modeling and Computation in Applications. Once learners have passed their 4 courses (3 core +1 elective), they will then take the virtually-proctored Capstone exam to earn the MicroMasters in Statistics and Data Science credential.
The new data analysis elective will open to learners with its first run February 2021 - May 2021, with registration and exact course dates sometime in Fall 2020. Please check the MM SDS schedule and Dates FAQ page for future updates.
July 28, 2020
Online MM Completion Celebration Update
MIT Open Learning and the MicroMasters Statistics and Data Science Program (SDS) are proud to share with you the link below for our first MM Completion Celebration, which occurred virtually on June 18, 2020. After six months planning, we launched our first joint MM (PoM, DEDP, SDS) completion celebration. Close to 500 learners and their families watched the show live.
The event recording includes brief remarks from IDSS leaders and MIT faculty, including IDSS Director Munther Dahleh and MicroMasters Program in Statistics and Data Science Director Devavrat Shah. Also featured are a selection of MM SDS credential holders who have shared their experiences in the program.
Read all about the MM Completion Celebration here in this MIT News article, "Learners today, leaders tomorrow."
You can also view on demand a video recording of the inaugural celebration here.
Note — The SDS portion of the video begins at 23:54 through 38:46.
We are very proud of all learners and look forward to celebrating next years group!