What is The Simon Initiative?

The initiative’s goal is to measurably improve student learning outcomes by putting research findings into practical use in instruction. Named for the late Nobel and Turing Award laureate and CMU Professor Herbert A. Simon, The Simon Initiative harnesses a cross-disciplinary learning engineering ecosystem that has developed over several decades at Carnegie Mellon University.

The Simon Initiative
Decades of learning science expertise.
The Simon Initiative

“Improvement in post secondary education will require converting teaching from a solo sport to a community based research activity.”

Herb Simon
Herb SimonNobel laureate and professor, Carnegie Mellon University

OLI’s role in The Simon Initiative

The Open Learning Initiative is a flagship project of The Simon Initiative, offering textbook-replacement course content built upon principles gleaned from decades of research in three CMU’s strengths: cognitive science, computer engineering, and human-computer interaction. OLI provides a harmonious platform for delivering high-quality materials with the ability to facilitate groundbreaking research — in technology enhanced learning (TEL); data science; learning behavior; and more.

Educators and researchers can employ OLI technology to:

  • Teach with any course in the diverse OLI catalog, and monitor the class’s learning
  • Build and deliver a new course or an entire program, harnessing the OLI methodology that measurably improves student learning
  • Convert their existing instruction to the OLI framework, for meaningful data collection and iterative improvements — at scale
  • Partner with other users to integrate new technologies in instruction, collaboration, or data science
  • Provide the testing ground for grant-funded research
  • Combine multiple Simon Initiative partner products to tackle challenges in your instruction
Simon Projects
Read about Simon's other flagship projects.
Simon Projects

Learn more about The Simon Initiative

Simon Initiative Projects

Work that falls under The Simon Initiative involves hundreds of faculty and researchers at CMU and crosses colleges, departments and fields.

This interdisciplinary, learning engineering ecosystem spans educational data, mining and machine learning, computer supported collaborative learning, virtual peer, educational games, the neural basis of learning, causal learning, development and learning and many other areas.

Learn more about The Simon Initiative


To maximize the initiative’s ability to apply The Simon Initiative approach beyond Carnegie Mellon University – and to promote and support new cutting-edge work, The Simon Initiative has relationships with:


Faculty from across Carnegie Mellon University – in disciplines ranging from psychology and philosophy to human computer-interaction and computer science – are part of The Simon Initiative.


The Simon Initiative and its partners sponsor events throughout the year.