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Stanford appoints vice provost for online learning

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Computer science professor John Mitchell will be the first vice provost for online learning, a new office created by president John Hennessy to position Stanford as the global leader in online education.

“[Online education] is a field that deserves increasing attention and investment,” Hennessy said. “The new office of the vice provost is in keeping with Stanford’s tradition of leadership in innovation and experimentation.”

Projects under vice provost Mitchell’s purview will be a part of the Stanford Online initiative, programs that seek to extend Stanford’s teaching and learning experiences globally through technology.

The Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning, or VPOL, is the newest addition to emphases placed by the school on online education. Stanford’s schools of Business, Engineering, and Medicine have already appointed faculty members to explore online education in their curricula and faculty-taught courses in engineering, math, social science, and entrepreneurship are slated to be online in the coming academic year.

These courses could be made available only to Stanford students or adapted to become massive open online courses for the public.

Mitchell is excited at the prospect of pushing the boundaries of education, emphasizing that individual departments and faculty members can take this initiative as far as they want to.

“While all the departments and schools have their own approaches, we’re all one university working together to leverage web platforms, video technology, social networking, simulation and other tools to improve education for everyone,” he said.

— Edward Ngai 

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