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Stanford offers grants for innovations in teaching and learning

January 20, 2016
2016 Winter Grants VPTL

BY KATHLEEN J. SULLIVAN

Stanford's new Winter 2016 Grant Program offers financial support to faculty and instructional teams to design and redesign courses and curriculum, and to explore innovative uses of technology in traditional, blended and online classrooms.

The new program combines and expands two earlier programs – Faculty College and Digital Learning Seed Grants.

The Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching & Learning (VPTL), which is offering the grants, has set a Feb. 15 deadline for submitting proposals. Under the program, grantees will have access to all of the coordinated resources within the VPTL that enrich the depth and range of learning experiences at Stanford and beyond.

"The goal of the new grant program is to support future-facing, faculty-driven innovation," said John Mitchell, vice provost for teaching and learning.

"By combining the existing programs, we've opened up new possibilities. First, the range of projects that qualify is much broader. Second, we've reduced the number of criteria that has to be met by any one proposal, and in this way, we've reduced the constraints on fresh ideas and new models. Third, we're providing a wider range of services to the new, grant-supported projects from the full breadth of the VPTL organization." 

Projects funded through the program may include a wide variety of innovations in teaching and learning, such as realigning an undergraduate curriculum sequence, designing online modules for a flipped class, integrating active and immersive classroom activities, establishing new interdisciplinary courses and groups of courses, creating an online course for public or professional education audiences, and developing a new instructional technology.

Proposals should be submitted through VPTL's online portal.

Each proposal must be led by a regular, full-time Academic Council faculty member, and be endorsed by the relevant department and school.  

Under the Winter 2016 Grant Program, faculty can indicate a preference for two different project formats or some combination of both based on their specific goals:

  • Cohort awards, based on the Faculty College model, will bring together several project teams in structured plenaries throughout the year to share experiences, learn about teaching resources and methods, and collaborate on various aspects of their projects.
  • Adaptively paced individual projects, based on the Digital Learning Seed Grant model, will allow teams to establish a customized development schedule in accordance with evolving needs.

Stanford convened the first Faculty College in 2011-12. Recent projects include the redesign of an interdisciplinary course on international security that uses realistic simulations to delve into complex issues such as nuclear proliferation and decisions about armed intervention in foreign conflicts, as well as the development of a Minor in Digital Humanities, which aims to integrate topics and methodologies from humanities and the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  

Since its inception in 2012, the Digital Learning Seed Grant Program has funded more than 80 projects. Last year, one of the teams won funding to develop a MOOC (massive open online course) on the inner life and thoughts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which opened Jan. 12. Another team developed an online emergency medicine course co-taught with a medical school in Uganda.

The VPTL encourages potential applicants to visit its website to see other examples of successful cohort and individual team projects.