New Lines for Opportunity, Winter 2023
An Engine of Opportunity
By Matthew Rascoff, Vice Provost for Digital Education
With the Supreme Court likely to upend affirmative action, and perhaps the entire college admissions system, this spring, many scholars and leaders are considering what might replace it. Rather than catastrophizing about the potential decision, how might we design new approaches that preserve the diversity of our educational communities for the long term? I share some thoughts about the question below — and on what it means for Stanford Digital Education.
In a recent book talk that was part of our collaborative Academic Innovation for the Public Good series, the sociologist Natasha Warikoo made the case that we should reconnect admissions policies with institutional missions. The basis for affirmative action should be reconceived and broadened to place it on a more solid foundation. Higher education needs to recommit to building a community, class by class, that reflects its higher aims.
Universities’ digital education strategies can either replicate the problems of undergraduate admissions — or attempt to mitigate them through innovations in access and outreach. Colleges and universities seeking to serve learners online must navigate a complex terrain of policies, platforms, and players. But in traversing these unfamiliar grounds we must remain oriented towards the North Star of our educational mission.
Digital learning offers the promise of beneficial growth. We may borrow from the lexicon of business, and even use business strategies, but in the end, a nonprofit institution’s mandate is to serve the common good. In Stanford's case, I believe that means expanding our offer of social mobility, which is embedded in our DNA and in which we already excel, to many more people.
Learn why digital education offers promise to achieve diversity
On journey to college, more low-income high schoolers take digital path through Stanford
A new group of students have enrolled at Stanford this quarter, and you won’t find them on campus. Scores of students from high schools serving low-income communities registered in January for university courses as part of Stanford Digital Education’s work with the nonprofit National Education Equity Lab. It’s an approach called "dual enrollment" in which students from Title I historically underserved high schools take college courses and simultaneously earn credit from both Stanford and their local schools.
Now in its second year, the Stanford program is blossoming: Stanford Digital Education is currently providing four dual-enrollment courses, spanning 21 high schools in nine states with some 350 students — more than double the number of students from a year ago. There’s a college writing course, an ethics course, an introduction to bioengineering, and a course about the lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Those classes come on the heels of the course offered in fall 2022, CS 105: Introduction to Computers, which was first given in fall 2021.
The launch of these Stanford–Ed Equity Lab courses was made possible through an innovation by Stanford’s Student & Academic Services (SAS) division, in which staff pioneered a new system for registering high school students to receive Stanford credits in the fall, winter and spring quarters for online courses. Although Stanford has routinely offered credits to high school students visiting campus for summer quarter courses, the Ed Equity Lab program represents the first time the University has done so during the academic year, and the first time it has done so with an equity-driven purpose. "This was a big step toward enabling credit-bearing learning opportunities from Stanford to be available to high schools that serve low-income families nationwide," said Associate Vice Provost for Digital Education Priscilla Fiden.
At the course graduation ceremony for the CS 105 course in December, Nkeiruka Okoro, a junior at KIPP East End High School in Houston, spoke and explained how much it meant to her to get credits from a course that was the same as the one offered to Stanford undergraduates. A student with a 4.0 GPA who will be one of the first in her family to transition from high school to college, she said that was proud to have learned to code in CSS, HTML and Python and called the course "revolutionary."
Photo: © Los Angeles Times, 2022. By Mel Melcon. Permission granted by Los Angeles Times.
Stanford’s Digital Medic equips community health workers worldwide to promote vaccines
“A person’s beliefs and values can influence how they understand health concepts, how they take care of their health, and how they make decisions related to their health,” says Sarah. Her tone is warm and serious, conversational and direct. She has a wealth of information; she explains without condescending.
Sarah can be a figure on screen or just a voice, depending on the needs of the community health workers (CHWs) — her intended audience — who carry her via smartphone between clients’ houses. An avatar of a community health worker developed by the Digital Medic team at Stanford Medicine, she guides listeners through a series of 10 videos on the basics of how vaccines work and how they protect against viruses, specifically against COVID-19. The video training, “Supporting Vaccination: A Digital Toolkit for CHWs” does double duty: it provides professional education for community health workers while also serving as a resource for them to share in conversations with their clients.
Digital Medic built the “Supporting Vaccination” toolkit in collaboration with community health workers and their supervisors from the organizations Philani and One to One Africa. The full training is available to view and download at the Digital Medic website and through the Digital Medic mobile app. While Digital Medic’s immediate focus was COVID-19, the broader goal was to expand understanding of how vaccines work and why they matter more broadly, with the goal of increasing uptake of vaccinations around the world.
Global vaccination efforts for COVID-19 have been made possible through the complex interplay of scientific research, government financing, and delivery logistics. But even after the daunting challenges of developing, storing, paying for, and transporting a vaccine have been surmounted, one last step can pose a barrier: individuals must be willing to receive the shot. Because of proliferating myths and disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine, in many communities health workers must overcome people’s reluctance to be vaccinated. In some cases, the health workers themselves must be convinced that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.
More Stories from Stanford Digital Education
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- Farewell to blue books: Language Center shows benefits of digital assessments
- Report from Rotterdam: An update on XR
Conversation with Authors: March 8
Join us March 8 for the second conversation in the 2023 Academic Innovation for the Public Good series. We will discuss the book Vital and Valuable: The Relevance of HBCUs to American Life and Education with the two authors, James V. Koch, Board of Visitors Professor of Economics emeritus and president emeritus, Old Dominion University, and Omari Swinton, chair, Department of Economics, Howard University. Register here.
In their book, Koch and Swinton examine the distinctive features of historically Black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, and recommend policies to strengthen them. They will be interviewed by Waymond Jackson, CEO of the ed tech nonprofit Ed Farm. Audience questions are welcomed and can be submitted in advance in the event’s conversation space (once you register, you will receive a link in the confirmation email).
View the eight events in this year’s series at the Academic Innovation for the Public Good web page.
Register for the March 8 event
Welcome to new team members
Stanford Digital Education continues to add new members to its team!
We're glad that Parth Sarin and Shadman Uddin have joined us as graduate student fellows.
Request a Consult
Need help on a digital education project? Interested in spinning up a new program or initiative? Members of the Stanford Digital Education team are piloting a free consult program for colleagues across campus and beyond.
Our team has expertise in digital education projects, from conception to evaluation, including getting started and launching, project management, outcomes analysis, remote and hybrid pedagogy, selecting and applying new technologies, promoting your work to a variety of audiences, producing video to support your work, grantmaking and development, and much more. Please fill out our consultation inquiry form, and someone will be in touch with you shortly.
In the Media
Recent stories and podcasts involving Stanford Digital Education.
Digital Innovations Within Higher Ed in the Wake of the Pandemic, The Evolllution, Feb. 6, 2023
How the Pandemic Has Shaped Leading Universities’ Integration of Digital Learning, Silver Lining for Learning podcast, Jan. 14, 2023
These high school students were afraid to dream bigger. A Stanford class is changing that, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 25 2022.
View more news.
Artificial Intelligence in Education panel. Join Stanford Academic Technology Community of Practice, Stanford Graduate School of Education, Center for Teaching and Learning and Stanford Digital Education for a discussion of the future of AI in teaching and learning, with panelists: Sarah Levine, assistant professor at Stanford GSE; Parth Sarin, MS student in Computer Science and instructor for "The AI Toolbox: An Everyday Guide;" and Josh Weiss, director of digital learning solutions at the Office of Innovation and Technology at Stanford GSE. 1-2 p.m. Pacific time. Visit the calendar listing for more information and to register.
SXSW Edu. Lectures, panels, podcasts, entertainment, networking and more. Register to attend in Austin or experience SXSW EDU Online. The gathering includes sessions with Stanford d.school's Leticia Britos Cavagnaro and Ariam Mogos (The Promises & Perils of Artificial Intelligence), the d.school's Laura McBain (Beyond School: Designing Education Infrastructure), Stanford Graduate School of Education's Paul Kim (Always On: Learning in the Age of AI & Technology), the d.school's sam seidel (Creative Hustle: Imagination + Ambition = Change), and the GSE's Jason Yeatman (Reading Reimagined: Why Is THIS Not Talked About?).
Vital and Valuable: The Relevance of HBCUs to American Life and Education. A conversation with authors James V. Koch and Omari H. Swinton about their book, Vital and Valuable. Part of the online book conversation series, Academic Innovation for the Public Good. 1-2 p.m. Pacific time. They'll be interviewed by Waymond Jackson, CEO of Ed Farm. Please provide your email address to register for the event.
Belonging: The Science of Creating Connection and Bridging Divides. Geoffrey Cohen, professor of psychology and the James G. March Professor of Organizational Studies in Education and Business at Stanford University, discusses his book Belonging with Beverly Daniel Tatum, interim president of Mount Holyoke College, president emerita of Spelman College, and a clinical psychologist with expertise in race relations. Part of the online book conversation series, Academic Innovation for the Public Good. 1-2 p.m. Pacific time. Please provide your email address to register for the event.
ASU+GSV Summit 2023. Panels, keynote speakers, karaoke and surfing. Register to attend the event in San Diego. The gathering includes remarks by Stanford Associate Professor of Computer Science Emma Brunskill (Ethics & AI: Pre-K to Gray and The Future of Integrity In The Brave New World of AI/GPT), Stanford Professor of Education Susanna Loeb (A Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity to Expand High Quality Tutoring and Implementing High Dosage Tutoring at Scale), Stanford Vice Provost for Digital Education Matthew Rascoff (The Brave New World of Higher Ed Digital Transformation), Stanford Professor of Education Sean Reardon (Will U.S. Students Recover from Pandemic Learning Loss?), Stanford Graduate School of Education Dean Daniel Schwartz (The Scientific Revolution in Learning).
A two-book conversation: The Human Network and Who You Know. Julia Freeland Fisher, director of education at the Clayton Christensen Institute and author of Who You Know: Unlocking Innovations That Expand Students' Networks, and Matthew O. Jackson, Trione Chair of the Department of Economics at Stanford University and author of The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviors, discuss their books with Mallika Vinekar, director of the Office of Digital Education at Vanderbilt University. Part of the online book conversation series, Academic Innovation for the Public Good. 1-2 p.m. Pacific time. Please provide your email address to register for the event.
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