Courselets: Improving Learning Resource Access

Author Information
Harris Dale
Stanford University
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Stanford University
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Stanford University offers courselets, self-contained, integrated sets of learning materials, to enhance the learning experience for students and reduce the demand for faculty time.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

How this practice supports access: 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:

  • A course, program or certificate-specific prerequisite: Presumed knowledge and skills necessary for success
  • Field-specific prerequisite: Crossing disciplines, to bridge knowledge gaps
  • Cross-curriculum knowledge: Material applicable to several Stanford courses or certificate programs
  • Extended curriculum knowledge: Practical application of theory, supplemental industry-specific material, etc.

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.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

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.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

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.

References, supporting documents: 

see URL below

Other Comments: 

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.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Andy DiPaolo
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Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Dale Harris
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