Stanford offers new hybrid college courses for high school students to broaden pathways to higher education

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Stanford University has announced a new effort to mobilize the technological capabilities and teaching and learning expertise of the University to reach students who have historically been underserved by higher education. A new office, Stanford Digital Education, is partnering with the National Education Equity Lab, a nonprofit that seeks to bridge the gap between high school and college.

Students at All City Leadership High School in Brooklyn, New York, learn HTML code in an introductory computer course offered by Stanford Digital Education and National Education Equity Lab. (Image credit: Michael Quinones)

In its first pilot with the Ed Equity Lab, Stanford Digital Education enrolled more than 220 students nationwide in an introductory credited course, Computer Science 105, for the fall term. Students come from 15 Title 1 high schools (where at least 40 percent of students are from low-income households). More Stanford courses are expected to be offered by the Lab’s Title 1 high school network later in the school year.

“This pilot course is part of a Stanford effort to extend the university’s social impact to local, national and global levels, and we are delighted to partner with the Ed Equity Lab,” said Provost Persis Drell . “With this new office, we seek to strengthen Stanford’s ability to innovate by extending educational opportunities to those who have not had access before. “

Created by Provost Drell, Stanford Digital Education aims to drive innovation in Stanford’s online and hybrid education strategies. Its mission is to support and amplify digital education initiatives in Stanford schools and offices, helping to incubate new ideas and projects while providing a framework to facilitate collaboration internally and externally, as demonstrated by work with the Ed Equity Lab.

Founded in 2019, the National Education Equity Lab designs, tests and implements new scalable strategies to help universities take a more active role in developing and identifying the next generation of academics and leaders. Stanford is among the nation’s leading universities working with the nonprofit to offer credit online courses at teacher-run high schools in 32 states at no cost to students.

Leslie Cornfeld, CEO of Ed Equity Lab, said: “Our work is rooted in the fact that talent is distributed equally, unlike opportunities. By connecting our university partners with historically underserved high schools across our country, we aim to change this on a large scale. Stanford’s effort shows what it looks like for a university to take a leadership role in expanding educational opportunities.

This effort to prepare and encourage students from under-represented backgrounds aims to address a disparity in academic pathways: research shows the majority of high-performing high school students from low-income families do not apply, let alone apply. do not attend, selective colleges where they would have the opportunity to flourish.

The computer course, led by Stanford professor of computer science Patrick Young, would be the first time in Stanford’s 136-year history that the university has offered a dual-enrollment course with transferable college credits in collaboration with schools secondary schools across the country, from Brooklyn to Oahu.

Young and members of Stanford Digital Education and the Ed Equity Lab set up the course with the understanding that many students may have little knowledge of the subject. “The goal is college level rigor with support designed to meet the needs of high school students,” Young said.

Like previous courses offered by Ed Equity Lab, Stanford Computer Science courses are held while students are in their schools as part of their daily schedule. However, it differs from other Ed Equity Lab courses in key ways. Stanford alumni and students serve as section heads and advisers. Secondary school teachers, who are in classrooms to facilitate and assist with each lesson, receive professional development and support from Stanford’s Transformation Learning Accelerator.

“Our vision is to contribute to a more just, equitable and accessible education system by uniting Stanford’s human and technological capabilities in new combinations,” said Matthew Rascoff, Stanford’s new vice-president of digital education. , who is leading the effort. “Together, we can build a powerful escalator for socio-economic mobility.” He was previously special advisor to Provost Drell.

Rascoff, who earlier in his career was associate vice president for digital education and innovation at Duke University, where he created the Duke Learning Innovation team, and founding vice president for learning and l Technology innovation for the University of North Carolina system, said more courses, including introductory writing and structured liberal education, will be offered this academic year through the Ed Equity Lab network .

Last month, at a virtual convocation for students and educators celebrating the start of Computer Science 105, Provost Drell made a special appearance and highlighted how Stanford shares the Ed Equity Lab’s vision of leveling the rules of the game for students with low income backgrounds. Offering free college courses to students could help attract new students to Stanford and other great schools, she said.

This pilot project marks the start of a larger effort at Stanford to expand access to higher education through digital teaching and learning strategies. “Like the Ed Equity Lab, we believe that the human potential is evenly distributed, but not the opportunities,” she later noted. “Stanford is committed to changing that.”


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