Blended Learning, Domestic, Education Quality, Faculty, Flipped Classrooms, Interview, MOOCs, Open Source Education, Required, Universities & Colleges - Written by on Monday, November 19, 2012 6:00 - 0 Comments

Stanford’s Online Guru John Mitchell Says Stanford Leads Pack

At the University in Munich (Day) Werner Kunz via Compfight

John Mitchell, the new Vice Provost for Online Learning (VPOL) at Stanford University, recently sat down with the student newspaper, The Stanford Daily, to talk about his strategy in his new position. A professor in engineering at Stanford, his new role took effect in August. He is supposed to coordinate Stanford’s efforts in online education. Here’s what he said in response to questions from Aaron Skehri of The Daily:

TSD: Why were you chosen for the role, and why did you accept the position?

JM: I started, about three-and-a-half years ago maybe, working on a web platform for supporting the experiments in teaching and learning. And out of that came some experiments with the flipped classroom… And other ideas that we developed were discussion forums for students and course staff to talk online. So I was already involved in some of the ideas and developing the technology; there are many other capable people on campus, and somehow I was chosen. For me it’s a great opportunity after being here 25 years to give back to the University in some form and help everyone across campus. [I want to] take advantage of the technology I know and love, but it’s beyond a technology effort and the focus is on teaching and learning.

TSD: What are Stanford’s peer universities doing in the same space? How does Stanford’s approach compare to, let’s say, MIT and Harvard’s EdX?

JM: [EdX] addresses some part of the topic area…but the larger part of the issue is how do we develop good teaching and learning materials. It’s easy to build a platform; in a sense, it’s a software problem… But it’s another thing getting new teaching and learning ideas adopted across campus and engaging the faculty help figure out how to do this right. One thing that really works for Stanford is to make it a faculty-driven process. We’re not trying to have a top-down, central planning process. Some of the other universities have been more top down in choosing courses and in how they work with faculty.

TSD: So, does Stanford lead the pack?

JM: I think so. We really were the starting point for the current wave of massive open online courses… We got off to a very good start, we’ve probably put out as many courses online as any other universities… A lot of other universities have put out lists of courses to be put online but as far as what we have actually done, we have been very successful in comparison with others…

TSD: Where do you see your office in five years?

JM: Hopefully we’ll have an office! [laughs] I don’t think this movement is going to go away; I think we’ll stabilize in some form and we may have new kinds of educational institutions; and I think many of the things we see as futuristic will become commonplace in lots of courses.

Via The Stanford Daily


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