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Stevens named director of digital research and planning

April 21, 2013
Photo of Mitchell Stevens

April 21, 2013

The Graduate School of Education and the Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning are partnering to advance research on how people learn.
 
Mitchell Stevens, associate professor of education, has been appointed to a newly created position — director of digital research and planning — in which he will help bridge research efforts in the Office of the Vice Provost of Online Learning and the Graduate School of Education. This is a two-year appointment effective immediately.

The position is jointly supported by the VPOL office and GSE, and Stevens will report to both John Mitchell, vice provost for online learning, and GSE dean Claude Steele.

“John and I have charged Mitchell with helping both units take advantage of the cascade of opportunities coming to Stanford by virtue of our incomparable position at the frontier of digital learning,” said Steele.  “I share the sense of many: We are at a pivotal moment in education history.  It is essential that the GSE move quickly to help Stanford define its ambitions at this moment, and to critically preserve our signal values of scholarly integrity and educational opportunity.”

The position arises from the idea that educational research and course production are inherently intertwined and complementary ventures. “Good educational research will help faculty across the university develop more effective learning materials,” said vice provost Mitchell. “In turn, our new approaches to teaching and online learning will provide data for educational research and enable experiments that enhance our understanding of how people learn.”

Stevens’ primary job will be to ensure that Stanford exploits the GSE's great potential for campus and world leadership in digital learning research.  He said he plans to connect with GSE faculty, staff and students in the coming weeks. “I am eager to hear from any and everyone about ways in which I might be of service to our school,” he said. “This must be a team effort.”

Stevens is a sociologist with longstanding interest in higher education, alternative educational forms and the quantification of academic accomplishment.  He is the author of Kingdom of Children:  Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement (Princeton, 2001) and Creating a Class: College Admissions and the Education of Elites (Harvard, 2007).  With GSE professor Roy Pea, he is cofounder of Education's Digital Future, a GSE initiative to catalyze a transnational conversation about digital learning.  He also serves as director of the Scandinavian Consortium for Organizational Research, an academic consulate that has been linking social scientists at Stanford and the Nordic world for 25 years.