Ari Bader-Natal

Minerva (2012-now)

Sapientia Critica

Technology enables the Minerva experience, but the education defines it. I work with the amazing Minerva academic team to imagine and build technologies to achieve Minerva's educational vision.

This generally involves designing, coding, and evaluating functional prototypes of immersive learning venues. I work with the engineering team to turn validated explorations into core components of Minerva's learning environment.



Course Builder: Technology for teams to build courses around Active Learning

I led the creation of Minerva's curriculum design technologies in 2016-2017. Unlike a "traditional" LMS, this curriculum management system is not student-facing. We decouple the tools and technologies for course design from those for teaching and learning. Chapter 16 of Building the Intentional University discusses our collaborative approach to curriculum development and the technologies that we created to support this approach.



Active Learning Forum: "Seminar on Steroids"

The Active Learning Forum is Minerva's core technology platform, and the Active Learning Seminar is its centerpiece. I devoted most of 2012 and 2013 to designing and prototyping the ALF, with the goal of developing a learning venue tailored for meaningful seminar discussion and targeted formative feedback. I worked with the very talented engineering team to turn these validated explorations into core components of Minerva's learning environment. I'm incredibly proud of what we've created.

What does a seminar look like on the Active Learning Forum? What does it mean to learn and teach in this classroom? While I frequently try to explain in conversation how this unusual classroom enables new forms of learning and teaching, it's much easier to communicate by showing it in action...

We devoted Chapter 15 of Building the Intentional University to discussing the Active Learning Forum in detail.




Assessment tool suite: Formative feedback, in context

More recently, I designed and prototyped the first version of Minerva's technology to support formative assessment of (a.) classroom discussion contributions and (b.) homework submitted as a document, video, or website.

The classroom assessment tool was designed to provide students with structured feedback on their contributions to their classes on the Active Learning Forum. This tool makes a cameo appearance at 03:39 in the 2015 video embedded above.

I based the initial prototypes of the assessment tool for written assignments to conceptually mirror the tool for assessing classroom discussion. Assessments are still anchored in context, but "context" is now a text passage rather than a spoken comment. Other than that, the concept -- structuring formative feedback as annotations on the student's original work -- remains the same.

We devoted Chapter 17 of Building the Intentional University to discussing our approach to assessment in detail.




Academic records: Generating, archiving, protecting

In 2014, I designed and built Minerva's first system for generating academic transcripts (official and unofficial) and term reports based on the formative assessments collected using the tools above. A secure student-facing Registrar system provides each student with access to their documents. The site also provides the student a link to download a comprehensive machine-readable dataset including every score and every written comment given by all of their professors at Minerva.

Related Publications

Bader-Natal, A., Fost, J., and Genone, J. Building Lesson Plans for Twenty-First-Century Active Learning. In Building the Intentional University: Minerva and the Future of Higher Education, edited by Stephen M. Kosslyn and Ben Nelson, MIT Press, 2017.
Katzman, J., Regan, M., and Bader-Natal, A. The Active Learning Forum. In Building the Intentional University: Minerva and the Future of Higher Education, edited by Stephen M. Kosslyn and Ben Nelson, MIT Press, 2017.
Levitt, R., Bader-Natal, A., and Chandler, V. Assessing Student Learning. In Building the Intentional University: Minerva and the Future of Higher Education, edited by Stephen M. Kosslyn and Ben Nelson, MIT Press, 2017.

Related Patents

Bader-Natal et al., 2017. “Apparatus, user interface, and method for authoring and managing lesson plans and course design for virtual conference learning environments”U.S. Patent Application US 15/709,365Filed September 19, 2017 • Patent Pending.
Bader-Natal et al., 2017. “System and method for tracking events and providing feedback in a virtual conference”U.S. Patent 9,674,243Filed August 31, 2015Issued June 6, 2017
Bader-Natal et al., 2017. “System and method for decision support in a virtual conference”U.S. Patent 9,578,073Filed August 31, 2015Issued February 21, 2017
Bader-Natal et al., 2016. “Participation queue system and method for online video conferencing”U.S. Patent 9,521,170Filed March 31, 2015Issued December 13, 2016
Bader-Natal et al., 2015. “System and method for a virtual conference interactive timeline”U.S. Patent Application US 14/840,546Filed August 31, 2015 • Patent Pending.
Bader-Natal et al., 2015. “System and method for managing virtual conferencing breakout groups”U.S. Patent Application US 14/675,712Filed March 31, 2015 • Patent Pending.
Bader-Natal et al., 2014. “Registering and displaying visual attention metadata in a web video conferencing and seminar system”U.S. Patent Application US 14/481,854Filed September 9, 2014 • Patent Pending.