Stanford University uses courselets, self-contained, integrated sets of learning materials to enhance the learning experience for students and reduce the demand for faculty time.
The effectiveness of the courselets will eventually be determined by a group of assessment professionals who are on staff at Stanford. Currently, we are not far enough along to do formal assessments.
Courselets address the changing needs in graduate and industry education, including filling knowledge gaps for learners due to educational background or time constraints; enhancing the learning experience by offering relevant, curriculum-extending, intellectually-challenging material in asynchronous, learner-focused formats; and reducing demands of faculty time for teaching basic material.
A courselet may function as:
Courselets may include any combination of graphics, streaming video, scenario-based simulations, text and audio files, interactive learning activities, self-tests, and links to related materials/tools. All enrolled students will be able to access appropriate courselets, regardless of the students' location. In keeping with the Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD) mission to improve the educational experience for learners universally and to bridge Stanford with industry, SCPD will develop avenues to make courselets available for other universities and industry training.
Most of the courselets will be done inexpensively (one or two thousand dollars). However, some will be more expensive, perhaps as much as ten thousand. Not all courselets are the same. Some will be primarily text with interspersion of short video streams of an instructor. Others will be interactive, involve elaborate simulations, or contain more extensive video filmed remotely (such as of a manufacturing process for example). Stanford is providing financial support for the project along with the Sloan Foundation
Stanford plans to develop on the order of 50 courselets over the next two years.
In addition to assessment of effectiveness, a marketing study is underway to learn if the courselets are of value independent of their association with specific Stanford courses, perhaps as a stand-alone product to be marketed to industry or other universities.