New Lines Without Borders, Spring 2023
Learning Without Borders
By Matthew Rascoff, Vice Provost for Digital Education
Stanford Digital Education recently welcomed a distinguished delegation of education and philanthropy leaders from Germany for a weeklong visit to campus and Silicon Valley. Led by the Robert Bosch Foundation, the visit brought back memories of a fellowship year I spent in Berlin, 10 years ago, when I found myself in shoes that were similar to our visitors’. I was an American educator in Germany, trying to understand what ideas we could exchange about the digital transformation that would benefit education systems on both sides of the Atlantic.
One of the most remarkable education startups I encountered during my time in Germany did not fit the mold of what we usually think of as “innovation.” It was Robert Bosch College, which, with support from the Robert Bosch Foundation, was just getting started in Freiburg. It was the newest high school in the United World College network, which now consists of 18 high schools around the world, serving students from more than 150 countries.
The principles of the United World College (UWC) are rooted in the effort to build more peaceful societies in the wake of the world wars of the 20th century. In their words, “Education can be about more than just personal advancement, or securing a place at university. It can inspire students to discover what connects us all as humans, and to act as champions for a world of peace, collaboration and understanding.”
Atlantic College, the first UWC, was founded in Wales in 1962, “on the idea that if young people from different backgrounds were educated together, they could build an understanding which could prevent future conflicts.” It and the other schools in the network feature experiential learning, in which students learn from doing, as opposed to a singular focus on students consuming information from teachers.
View the recording and read the transcript of the April 12 conversation about Belonging: The Science of Creating Connection and Bridging Divides. Stanford psychologist and author Geoffrey Cohen was interviewed by Mount Holyoke Interim President Beverly Daniel Tatum.
A siren wailed. A police car pulled up to the curb. Officers jumped out and shouted at me to get down on my knees, put my hands in the air and look at the ground. With my heart pounding, I immediately dropped into the position. I was in shock.
My response was much the same as thousands of others who have taken “1,000 Cut Journey,” an immersive virtual reality experience designed by a team at Columbia University School of Social Work, in collaboration with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. The program became available this month for free download to millions more, having been adapted to run on the Meta Quest platform thanks to the XR Initiative at the University of Michigan.
Unlike the shooter games, exercise routines and interactive sports that make up most of Meta Quest’s offerings, 1,000 Cut Journey isn’t entertainment: It’s a visceral tool to spur awareness about racism and help people to see how it pervades all aspects of life.
“We feel that nothing like this really exists, and it’s important that we make it as accessible as possible,” said Courtney D. Cogburn, associate professor at Columbia’s School of Social Work, who launched the project with Jeremy Bailenson, Thomas More Storke Professor in Stanford’s Department of Communication. “The hope is that white people will come out of this experience and say, ‘I thought I understood racism, but I don’t.’ It lays the groundwork for a different conversation.”
Historian Tom Mullaney envisions a future course that could extend the experience of archival research to high school and college students across the country. Students in the program would participate in an online class that would give them the tools to connect with local experts, define a research problem, and pursue research in collections in their own communities.
Mullaney is a professor of Chinese history in the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences and a Guggenheim Fellow. He spoke with Stanford Digital Education’s Jenny Robinson about his conviction that the practice of conducting research and shaping a narrative from it is essential to the ever-contemporary project of citizenship.
He remarked: "Some might say that it’s impossible to scale the pedagogical experience of hands-on humanities research. But I don't accept that because of what we've seen work at Stanford over the past seven years in the Massively Multiplayer Humanities project. The first phase of this experiment was basically, can we take the experience that we already create in classes of ten or fifteen students, and in a meaningful way, without distortion, scale that to a one-hundred-person class? We did it at the scale of one hundred and fifty students."
The next step is to offer the course to high school and college students beyond the Stanford campus. "If you have students logging in from Albuquerque, Anchorage, the suburbs of Cincinnati, New York City, then they will be working in collections that are close to them, that very likely will house things that are related to the ecology, the economy, the culture, the society, and the demography of that of home or place," he said.
Visit our new “Impacts and progress” page to see how we are building and enhancing digital pathways to Stanford.
- Academic Innovation for the Public Good book series
- Grow with Google professional development for community college faculty
- Lifelong Learning on the Stanford website
- National Education Equity Lab courses for high school students
- Stanford pandemic education report
- Working Learners Initiative for Stanford's current and potential employees
Creative Hustle: Blaze Your Own Path and Make Work That Matters
Join us August 9 as we begin Part 2 of the 2023 Academic Innovation for the Public Good series, organized around the theme of knowledge sharing. We will discuss the book Creative Hustle: Blaze Your Own Path and Make Work That Matters with the two authors, Olatunde Sobomehin, CEO/co-founder of StreetCode Academy, and sam seidel, K12 Lab director of strategy and research at the Stanford d.school.
In their book, Sobomehin and seidel urge readers to forge unique and personal paths based on goals that resonate with their values. They will be interviewed by Seth Markle, associate professor of history and international studies at Trinity College. 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 Academic Innovation for the Public Good.
More Stories from Stanford Digital Education
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In the Media
Recent stories involving Stanford Digital Education.
Teaching: Are professors ready for AI? Chronicle of Higher Education, May 25, 2023
South Valley high schoolers get a taste of Stanford University, Albuquerque Journal, May 3, 2023
Do chatbot tutors work better when they're upbeat — and female? EdSurge, April 27, 2023
Colorado Springs high school students getting free Stanford credits — entering a new frontier, Colorado Spring Gazette, April 26, 2023
How online teaching can promote empathy, Inside Higher Ed, March 22, 2023
Creative Hustle: Blaze Your Own Path and Make Work That Matters. Co-authors Olatunde Sobomehin and sam seidel discuss their book as part of the Academic Innovation for Public Good series. Sobomehin is CEO/co-founder of StreetCode Academy, an organization that offers free tech classes to communities of color; he has taught classes at the Stanford Haas Center and the d.school. Seidel is the K12 Lab director of strategy and research at the Stanford d.school. They will be interviewed by Seth Markle, associate professor of history and international studies at Trinity College. Register for August 9.
The New Enlightenment and the Fight to Free Knowledge. Author Peter B. Kaufman, senior program officer at MIT Open Learning and founder and executive producer of Intelligent Television, will discuss his book as part of the Academic Innovation for Public Good series. He will be interviewed by John Willinsky, professor emeritus at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Register for September 6.
The Floating University: Experience, Empire, and the Politics of Knowledge. Author Tamson Pietsch discusses the subject of her book, a 1926 voyage around the world that doubled as a bold educational experiment and an exercise of imperial power. Pietsch is associate professor in social and political sciences and director of the Australian Centre for Public History at the University of Technology Sydney. She will be interviewed by Eve Duffy, associate vice provost for global affairs at Duke University. Register for October 11.
Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can't Transform Education. Author Justin Reich, associate professor of digital media in the Comparative Media Studies/Writing department at MIT, examines the unfulfilled promises and inequitable impacts of educational technologies. He will be interviewed by Shauntel (Poulson) Garvey, co-founder and partner at Reach Capital. Register for November 8.
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