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Each quarter, Stanford Continuing Studies offers over 100 courses, workshops, and special events on topics ranging from liberal arts and sciences, to creative writing, and professional and personal development. Designed to cultivate learning and enrich the lives of adults in the Bay Area, courses are primarily taught by Stanford instructors and are open to all members of the community.
With most course offerings on campus, Stanford Continuing Studies also offers approximately 10 to 15 creative writing courses online each quarter. Thanks to the flexibility of the online format, these courses can be taken anywhere, anytime – a plus for students who lead busy lives. The courses are open to all adults and all levels of writers.
Stanford Continuing Studies serves more than 13,000 students each year, with 8% of those students taking online courses. Zoom Video Communications is proud to contribute to Stanford Continuing Studies online learning program by providing a real-time communications platform for their creative writing courses.
To learn more, we talked to Malena Wantrous, Lead Instructor, and Teresa Kpachavi, Student Services Manager, Online Courses. Malena oversees the instruction and content of the online Creative Writing program, and teaches online writing courses. Teresa manages the daily operations and student services aspects of the online program.
Malena primarily uses Zoom for virtual office hours. She has a virtual Zoom office where “the door is open” two hours a week. She appreciates that Zoom is unobtrusive; she can go about her work and forget it’s on until a student enters the Zoom room. Teresa says some teachers use Zoom as Malena does, with others using it for their classroom instruction and Q&A sessions. “Teachers are particularly excited about the new gallery view, which makes you feel like you’re really in the classroom, seeing all your students at once,” said Teresa.
As they’ve only had it for the past few months, Stanford Continuing Studies is still learning new ways to use Zoom. “We are in the early stages of figuring out the best ways to use Zoom. We’re letting our instructors innovate and explore it,” said Teresa. “Zoom is such a flexible platform, its use can depend on the instructor’s preferences, the nature of the coursework, and the students’ personalities.
The feedback from teachers and students about Zoom has been overwhelmingly positive. Here are some representative responses from a survey of 300 students and teachers about learning with Zoom.
Stanford Continuing Online Creative Writing Instructors:
“I absolutely love Zoom! It is such an improvement over the old text-only format…I feel quite a bit more personally involved with my students since I actually get a look at them now, and they seem to feel my true interest and concern since they can see my facial expressions as we talk.”
“I just concluded a Zoom session, in which I asked the students…how they liked Zoom, and the enthusiasm was high. They think it’s easy to use, and we were all amazed that one of the students was atop a mountain in India, another in Brussels, another in [the] Netherlands, two in California and me in Minneapolis and we could see and talk to one another!”
“I’ve been really enjoying Zoom so far, and I can tell my students do too…I like how easy and intuitive it is, that we can keep the same link active all quarter, and that the program automatically rotates with the speaker.”
Stanford Continuing Studies Students:
“I thought Zoom was a great addition. I have taken classes before through Stanford that had only the online chat. This was a great improvement. It was nice to see my classmates, attach names to faces and be able to talk rather than just email and post. It made it feel more like a real, live class.”
“Zoom added a valuable personal touch to the course. It was nice to get to know [my teacher] and the other students ‘in person.’ Zoom was easy and straightforward to use.”
Stanford Continuing Studies will continue to expand its online learning programs and its use of Zoom beyond the writing program. We look forward to seeing the program grow and reach more students!