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Stanford University has launched two initiatives designed to capitalize on existing and emerging technologies. A new center, the Stanford Learning Lab, will explore ways to enrich learning by using software, digital video and other innovations. An Educational Ventures Office will enhance income opportunities for the university by forging partnerships with industry, government and other educational institutions.
"The Learning Lab will have the explicit charge to pursue projects that will have the most impact on the Stanford community, from large lecture classes, to long-distance learning to teacher-student contacts," said Stanford President Gerhard Casper. The lab, which will be phased in over three years, will provide faculty-initiated projects with technical advice, programming help, equipment loans and limited financial support from the president's office. Larry Leifer, professor of mechanical engineering, will be the lab's director. English Professor Larry Friedlander and Sheri Sheppard, associate professor of mechanical engineering, will serve as co-directors.
"Technology is not the goal, it is a means to achieve our learning objectives," said Leifer. "We will use it liberally, but, I sincerely hope, only advisedly, only where it makes sense, only where it supports the pedagogic model of a curriculum, course, module or individual student," he added.
The Educational Ventures Office will identify and support the development of educational products, programs and services that can be marketed to industry, government and other educational institutions. It will provide technical and financial support to turn promising ideas into successful educational ventures. A director of the office will be hired through a national search.
In addition to the creation of the learning lab and the ventures office, the university will extend the reach of the Stanford Center for Professional Development. Although the center, a leader in distance-education programs for professionals, will remain in the school of engineering, it will be expanded to support distance learning across the university.
The university also will establish a Coordinating Council for Technology Resources, a clearinghouse for ideas and a central source of technical expertise. That role is currently being played by the Commission on Technology in Teaching and Learning, established by Casper in 1994. The commission, headed by John Etchemendy, senior associate dean of humanities and sciences, proposed the university's new initiatives.
By Elaine Ray