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Craig Kapitan, News Service (650) 724-5708;

Some of Stanford's distance learning projects

Stanford SKOLAR M.D.

School of Medicine

Launched in May 2000, SKOLAR M.D. was billed as Stanford's first for-profit online endeavor. Although the online database operates independently, the university has a nearly 60 percent stake in the company. Directed toward the medical community, the search engine scours medical journals, textbooks, drug databases and the National Library of Medicine. Users pay an annual $240 subscription fee.



School of Education

Providing an online community for K-12 teachers, Teachscape uses case studies to help in professional development. Members can access four-minute videos showcasing successful teaching practices. Stanford is one of several universities including Harvard, Rutgers and Northwestern collaborating with the company to develop cases and curriculum. At Stanford, education Professor Kenji Hakuta, a specialist in instructing students for whom English is a second language, is helping to develop course models that the company will distribute over the web.


Alliance for Lifelong Learning


Formed in February 2000, the Alliance for Lifelong Learning originally was a joint venture among Stanford, Oxford, Princeton and Yale to serve the institutions' combined 500,000 alumni with online courses. Each university invested $3 million to develop the courses and website.

In October, the universities kicked off the pilot phase of the project with 10 online courses. Stanford contributed two courses "Encountering Homer's Odyssey," taught by classics Professor Richard Martin, and "World War II and the World It Made," taught by history professors David Kennedy and James Sheehan. Six hundred alumni enrolled in the programs (out of 1,500 contacted).

Although administrators are calling the trial run a success, Princeton pulled out of the partnership last month. Stanford, Oxford and Yale have decided to forge ahead without a fourth partner.




UNext, whose president is former Stanford Dean for Learning Technology and Extended Education Geoffrey Cox, is the independent company that launched Cardean University an online learning institution authorized by the Illinois Board of Higher Education to grant M.B.A. degrees. In 1999, the company reached an agreement with Stanford and four other universities (Columbia, Carnegie Mellon, the London School of Economics and the University of Chicago) to help develop courses in exchange for a share of the profits.

At one time the company promised to pay each university up to $20 million for its participation, a company spokeswoman told the Chronicle of Higher Education. By September of this year, however, the company had laid off 42 percent of its employees. Facing a financial crisis, UNext recently "restructured its relationship" with Stanford, according to Sam Steinhardt, chief financial officer for learning technology and extended education. Although details are vague, Steinhardt says the new agreement "benefits both parties rather well."



Stanford Center for Professional Development (School of Engineering)

Founded in part by Mehrdad Moslehi, a consulting assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, Semizone launched its first classes in July. The courses, offered in conjunction with the Stanford Center for Professional Development, are aimed at professionals in the semiconductor industry.


University Pathology Consortium, LLC

Department of Pathology

Founded by the pathology departments at six universities, including Stanford, University Pathology Consortium provides "current, coherent, accessible knowledge regarding human disease and its diagnosis to medical professionals as they do their work." Through subscription fees, which fund the endeavor, doctors can use the website to help diagnose diseases and to evaluate abnormal test results. The company has two other subscription-based sections and plans to release three more by summer 2003.


Stanford Radiology Online CME

Department of Radiology

Run by Stanford's Department of Radiology, this project offers several dozen 20- to 90-minute lectures that "simulate the experience of attending a live Stanford lecture." Customers can purchase one lecture, available on RealPlayer, for $20 or six lectures for $100. Prices for students are substantially less. Several courses are free. After the lecture is completed, customers can take a quiz online to gain a certificate from the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education. If the user passes the quiz, the certificate can be printed directly from the site.


By Craig Kapitan

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