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Stanford Launches Summer Reading Site To Engage Freshmen Ahead of Fall Classes

Stanford has expanded its Three Books summer reading program to include online elements in an effort to engage incoming freshmen in the academic community before they ever step on campus.

As part of the program, the university launched a course Web site in June and has provided participating students the opportunity to:

  • Chat online with Associate Professor Nicholas Jenkins, who selected this year's books and led a discussion titled "How To Read a Book;"
  • Watch a video in which Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Professor of Drama Harry J. Elam Jr. answered student questions about one of the books;
  • Chat online with History Professor Norman Naimark about another of the books;
  • Chatted with Anthropology Lecturer Cari Kapur, an academic director, and a resident director about the program's themes; and
  • Join an online chat with Dean of Freshmen Rob Urstein about the themes of the third book.

"We wanted to provide an opportunity for students to engage with one another over the summer and to engage a little more deeply in the summer reading — not just to read the books passively, but to think about and help set the agenda for the Sept. 19 roundtable discussion with the authors by coming up with topics for them to talk about," Urstein told the Stanford News.

"This is not the stereotypical way that people might think about online learning," Urstein continued. "But we thought of this course site as a way to bring this class closer together, and to get them to learn from and with one another, even before they arrive on campus."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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