Skip to content Skip to navigation

Stanford forms new Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning

By combining resources of the Center for Teaching and Learning, parts of Academic Computing Services, the CourseWork engineering team and the Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning, the new organization will provide better coordination between groups that support teaching, learning and reaching learners online.

BY KATHLEEN J. SULLIVAN


Provost John Etchemendy talking to the Faculty Senate about the newly created Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning.

At Thursday's Faculty Senate meeting, Provost John Etchemendy announced that Stanford will combine several organizations now scattered across campus to establish the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning.

The senate meeting also included presentations on a faculty survey on undergraduate teaching and on Stanford Athletics.

The new office, which will be formed in the coming months, will combine the resources of the Center for Teaching and Learning, the portions of Academic Computing Services aimed at teaching and learning, the CourseWork engineering team and the Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning.

"We are consolidating these activities into a single unit in order to lessen confusion, so that faculty, graduate students and undergraduates all know where to go when they are interested in either receiving assistance in their teaching and learning, or want to develop innovations in their classrooms," Etchemendy said.

The new organization will continue to offer all the services each group now provides to faculty, students and staff.

John Mitchell, currently the vice provost for online learning and a professor of computer science, will lead the new office.

Etchemendy said a task force of senior leaders – Harry J. Elam Jr., vice provost for undergraduate education; Patricia Gumport, vice provost for graduate education; University Librarian Michael Keller; and Karen Cook, vice provost for faculty development and diversity – recommended combining the groups, after surveying campus resources supporting faculty teaching, the use of instructional technologies and student learning activities.

The four groups share common interests and provide related services to Stanford in complementary ways:

The Center for Teaching and Learning, which is located in Sweet Hall, offers many services, including consulting with faculty and their departments on course design, teaching strategies and course evaluation, training teaching assistants, and coaching undergraduate and graduate students on time-management and study skills.

Academic Computing Services, which is located in Lathrop Library, provides technology resources and tools for teaching, learning and research to faculty, students and staff. Its services include discipline-focused and general consulting for faculty on technology for teaching, research and digital humanities scholarship.

CourseWork, which is part of Academic Computing Services, is Stanford's learning management system and is mainly used by instructors to create websites for their courses. A variety of campus groups also have used CourseWork to manage and conduct project-based activities.

The Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning (VPOL), which was established in 2012, advances faculty-driven online learning initiatives and research, and provides exceptional educational opportunities to Stanford students by transforming the way learning is organized in campus classrooms and far beyond them.

VPOL collaborates with other educational organizations by sharing course material, data-driven research and source code for enhancements to OpenEdX, its open-source platform for online courses. VPOL also offers courses to lifelong learners around the world through Stanford Online.

Mitchell said the new office will provide better coordination between groups that support teaching, learning and reaching learners online. He said the office will lead a more concerted effort to:

  • Support innovation in teaching and learning on campus;
  • Use digital technology to make Stanford research and scholarship more broadly accessible beyond campus; and

Following the senate meeting, Mitchell said there is tremendous excitement among staff about joining a growing organization.

"We're already working together in many, many ways, so this organizational change simplifies things we're already doing," he said.

"There are such striking overlaps I think we will see improvements immediately. For example, the teaching experts in the Center for Teaching and Learning will be able to work much more easily and effectively with instructional designers now working in VPOL and with academic technology specialists coming from Academic Computing Services. We are connecting the teams that work on CourseWork software for on-campus teaching and the Stanford OpenEdX platform that allows external delivery of online courses. I've seen a lot of enthusiasm for that from the engineers who now have many more colleagues to talk to."

###

Published: December 5, 2014
Source: Stanford Report