Reflections on J-WEL’s second anniversary | MIT J-WEL

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Reflections on J-WEL’s second anniversary


On May 2, 2017, MIT and Community Jameel announced the establishment of the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL). Today, we celebrate our two-year anniversary. Over the past two years, we have been:

5 peopleBuilding a global community

Since 2017, J-WEL has welcomed as members 28 organizations across 18 countries, including Boeing (US), Curtin University (Australia), Centro Ceibal (Uruguay), EnglishHelper (US), Njala University (Sierra Leone), Save the Children (Jordan), and Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Catalonia – Spain), and the Wadah Foundation (Indonesia).

Membership allows J-WEL to build communities of interest and practice, both within and across collaboratives, which also serve as points of contact with educators and researchers in the MIT community. 

Fox HarrellSponsoring transformative work in education innovation across MIT

Since J-WEL’s inception, we have awarded over $1.3 million dollars in grants to MIT faculty, providing funding to support their work conducting research and projects in education innovation. These innovations span the lifecycle of a learner, from pK-12 to higher education and workforce learning. Projects have ranged from tailoring STEM for girls, to supporting language teaching and curriculum development for severely endangered languages, and measuring and identifying social skills needed to succeed in the workforce in Peru. 

Dr. George Westerman, J-WEL Workforce Learning Faculty Director, comments on his collaborative's grants: 

“We’re providing seed funding for a fascinating variety of MIT research grants. It’s an exciting portfolio, ranging from collaboration in MOOCs to new ways of assessing hard-to-measure concepts such as bias to conducting randomized control trials in Latin America. The grants help to spur workforce-related research forward while also helping our members to think differently about the way they do business.”

4 people doing experimentTransforming learning, together

During the four J-WEL Weeks held to date, which were attended by over 460 participants from more than 30 countries, J-WEL members collaborated both with one another and experts from the MIT community, developing strategic plans to scale transformation across pK-12, higher education, and workforce learning.

Kelly Grogan, Head of Innovation for Staff Learning at the Chinese International School in Hong Kong, explains:


"Each J-WEL Week builds on the other, allowing for the development of strong partnerships between J-WEL members and the MIT community. J-WEL Week is a week of learning with peers through play and conversations as well as sharing passions to create learning environments that prepare students for an unknown and unpredictable future.”

At our most recent J-WEL Week, members discussed how pK-12 education today will impact the future of work, developed plans to integrate computational thinking skills into their university curriculums, and looked at the future of skills credentialing.

Syrian teacherAdvancing refugee education

In 2018, J-WEL announced a major initiative with Save the Children to improve Jordanian teachers' wellbeing through the use of practical approaches that incorporate compassion and empathy into education-based systems thinking. The work will benefit both Jordanian children as well as refugees from Syria and other conflict zones who fled to Jordan. Hassan Jameel, President of Community Jameel Saudi Arabia, commented:

"We recognize that teachers need compassion and empathy to support children with their emotional development – especially in a crisis setting. As such, improving quality teaching practices and student learning through a blended approach to teacher professional development is fundamental.”

Looking forward

Keep an eye out for announcements of the 2019 grant awardees, updates on our refugee initiative with Save the Children, and additional opportunities to work toward change for all learners, everywhere.



  1. October 2018 J-WEL Week participants (photo courtesy of J-WEL)
  2. Prof. D. Fox Harrell presents his work during the March 2018 J-WEL Week
  3. pK-12 members participate in a hands-on learning activity at the October 2018 J-WEL Week
  4. Syrian teacher with refugee children in the Azraq camp, Jordan (photo courtesy of DFID)