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Stanford's professional schools commit to online learning

Stanford's engineering, medical and business schools appoint associate deans to lead curriculum innovations and broaden their reach.

Peter DeMarzo, business, Bernd Girod, engineering, and Charles Prober, medicine.

From left, Peter DeMarzo, business, Bernd Girod, engineering, and Charles Prober, medicine.

Three of Stanford's schools – engineering, medicine and business – have announced appointments of associate deans to lead their respective online education initiatives. The appointments will complement the university's continuing commitment to online learning.

School of Engineering

Bernd Girod, professor of electrical engineering and a key figure in the type of multimedia technology that has revolutionized online education, has been named to the new position of senior associate dean for online learning and professional development in the School of Engineering.

"Bernd's appointment recognizes the rapidly growing importance of online learning in engineering education," said Dean James D. Plummer, who announced Girod's appointment.

School of Medicine

At the School of Medicine, Charles Prober, senior associate dean for medical education, will take the lead in the school's commitment to interactive education. A professor of pediatrics, microbiology and immunology, Prober is a champion of what he calls interactive education, or the classroom experience that is made possible once lectures are put on video. He also is the driving force behind Stanford Medicine Interactive Learning Initiatives, which will guide the Medical School toward a new era in medical pedagogy.

"I have yet to meet a student who doesn't think classroom education has to change," Prober said. "Pushing facts at people isn't learning. The learning is the embedding of the facts to create rich, interactive sessions." Prober and a team of education technology specialists, physicians, faculty members and students are working to adapt the existing medical curriculum to new formats and to explore partnerships with other institutions of medical learning.

Graduate School of Business

At the Graduate School of Business (GSB), meanwhile, Dean Garth Saloner appointed Peter DeMarzo, senior associate dean for academic affairs, to lead the initiative there. Like his colleagues at the other schools, DeMarzo, the Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance, is working with faculty to re-envision their courses with a full suite of educational technology solutions. At the Business School, these include a new Real-Time Analysis and Investment Lab (RAIL), which allows students to work with market data in real time.

For the time being, GSB online courses are aimed at enrolled students, but the school aspires to share modules of management content with a broader audience in the future, Saloner said.

"The GSB provides a personalized, transformational experience for our students," said Saloner. "Educational technology is a crucial factor in our ability to further deepen the learning that happens here on campus. It will also enable us to reach high-potential and high-achieving people around the world, many of whom would not otherwise have the opportunity to study under GSB faculty on campus."

Girod, Prober and DeMarzo all were members of President John Hennessy's Advisory Committee on Technology in Higher Education.

The School of Engineering has long been a pioneer in the field of distance learning. In 1969, the school launched the Stanford Instructional Television Network (SITN) with 12 graduate engineering courses. In the 1990s, course delivery moved to video streaming over the Internet, and SITN became the Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD). SCPD is now one of the top professional development centers among U.S. institutions of higher education, with 420 member companies and 45 staff members.

The GSB this month announced a partnership with SCPD to develop the first online Innovation and Entrepreneurship certificate program. The GSB also has established an instructional technology group to support the school's online education effort on campus and beyond.

John Mitchell, who recently was appointed to the newly created position of vice provost for online learning, has said he looks forward to meeting regularly with Girod, Prober and DeMarzo to coordinate each school's program with the overall university online learning initiative, called Stanford Online.