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Equity & Access

Stanford Opens Office of Digital Ed

Stanford University has launched a digital education office with the intent of broadening equity and access to higher education through digital pathways. The Office of the Vice Provost for Digital Education will "incubate and support" digital education initiatives across the institution, to "serve the public good."

The team overseeing the work, the Digital Education Strategy Group (DESG), consists of representatives from each of Stanford's schools, along with Continuing Studies, the offices of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of Research, and d.school. This is the same group that governs Stanford's online marketing assets, including Stanford Online and partnerships with Coursera and edX.

The new office is led by Matthew Rascoff, newly appointed as vice provost for digital education. He previously served as associate vice provost for digital education and innovation at Duke University and vice president for technology-based learning and innovation for the University of North Carolina System.

In a campus interview, Rascoff explained that the new office "has a distinct mission — to advance education innovation for equity and opportunity." He said that he expected the office to curate and negotiate partnerships with outside organizations, that will help the university "contribute to a more just, equitable and accessible system of education by uniting Stanford's human and technological capabilities in new combinations."

As a kickoff, Digital Education is working with the National Education Equity Lab, a nonprofit that works to bridge the gap between high school and college. A fall 2021 pilot has enrolled 220 high school students across the country in an introductory course, Computer Science 105. Participants all attend high schools where at least 40 percent of students live in low-income households. The initiative plans to offer additional courses later in the year, all credit-bearing.

The university said that this was the first time in its history where it has delivered a dual-enrollment course with transferable college credit in collaboration with high schools nationwide. Students attend the class as part of their daily school schedules.

Stanford lecturer Patrick Young, who is leading the course, worked with Digital Education and the Ed Equity Lab to design lessons for a group of students who may not have much background in the subject.

"The goal is college-level rigor with support designed to meet the needs of high school students," Young said in a statement.

Stanford alumni and students serve as section leaders and advisers. Teachers from each of the 15 participating high schools are in the classrooms to facilitate and help with each lesson; all have received professional development and support from Stanford's Transforming Learning Accelerator.

Rascoff is promoting the new office among members of the Stanford Community. "Please get in touch with us if you want to discuss an idea," he said. "We're eager to listen and learn. My hope for Stanford Digital Education is that we can inspire and support the next generation of education innovations, and innovators, for the public good."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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