YEREVAN — On July 17, 2015, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), the Ayb Educational Foundation and the Luys Foundation held a joint press conference at the Ayb School in Yerevan to discuss the MIT Global Teaching Lab program. Global Teaching Labs is a pilot summer program designed to shape a new culture of learning in Armenia by introducing a different method of instruction.

The press conference was part of MIT’s International Science & Technology Initiatives (MISTI) program, a bridge between centers of excellence in Armenia and around the world. Speakers included Fr. Mesrop Aramian, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Ayb School, advisor to the President of the Republic of Armenia and member of the Luys Education Board; Dr. Jacek Brant, senior lecturer in business and economics education at University College London; Gayane Ghumashyan, senior operations manager at the Luys Foundation; Serenella Sferza, MISTI program director; and Vasken Yacoubian, member of the AGBU Central Board of Directors.

“MISTI is designed to expose MIT faculty and students to excellence worldwide. We started with MIT Japan and now we have 15 country-based programs. We also have programs that cut across countries and the Global Teaching Labs and our collaboration with Armenia is one of these programs,” said Sferza.

The Global Teaching Lab course began on June 22 and will end on July 31. The classes-held at the Ayb School-have introduced 110 students from across Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh to emerging disciplines, such as neurocomputing, machine learning, and electricity and magnetism, and encouraged hand-on learning to bring theory into practice. “Our methods are a bit different,” said MIT student and program lecturer Armen Samurkashian. “We lead the class in a more interactive way. We approach the issues deeply, like specialists.” During the course, 32 students from outside Yerevan have been hosted by AGBU at the AGBU Vahe Karapetian Center where extracurricular activities are organized each day.

Through the Global Teaching Labs, MIT students are matched with foreign high schools and prepare tailored courses on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects that complement the school’s curriculum and highlight MIT’s hands-on approach to education. MISTI operates through country programs that create opportunities for students and faculty to work with partners abroad. The 19 country programs cover most of the world’s large economies as well as smaller countries with particularly dynamic technology sectors and administer several innovative cross-regional programs that enable MIT students to learn through teaching STEM and entrepreneurship.

“We must gather our resources around the best programs. Ayb, Luys, the American University of Armenia, TUMO and UWC Dilijan all have their own directions, but all of them are working towards enriching education in Armenia and turning Armenia into an international center of excellence in education,” said AGBU Central Board member Vasken Yacoubian.

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