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John Mitchell and Maxwell Bigman: How can we improve online learning?

Cartoon of person looking at a screen
Aug 20 2020
Fellow, Research, Stanford, Students

Coming off a spring quarter disrupted by a global pandemic, two scholars in modern higher education set out to explore the good and the bad in our global experiment with near-universal online education.

John Mitchell is a noted professor of computer science and former vice provost for teaching and learning at Stanford. Maxwell Bigman is a doctoral candidate in the Stanford Graduate School of Education. The two surveyed the online experiences of Stanford’s Department of Computer Science, home to the university’s largest undergraduate major with over 2,000 declared students.

Their upcoming short paper detailing their study will debut at LWMOOCS, a September conference on online learning originally scheduled in Guatemala but now online. The paper is both a snapshot of a singular moment in education history and a handbook of sorts for educators and students on how to get the most out of online learning. “We’re in the middle of something really unusual here,” Mitchell said. Stanford Engineering recently talked with Mitchell and Bigman about their study and what it means for education.

Study co-author Maxwell Bigman is a 2019 Stanford Graduate Fellow.

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