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Transforming Learning Accelerator

Stanford Digital Learning Design Challenge

The Stanford Digital Learning Design Challenge invites you to bring your creativity and innovation to help solve the most pressing challenges facing learners today.


Working in small groups or individually, you will pursue an idea that promotes learning, wellness, or community in online environments. You’ll also have an opportunity to design and prototype a real-world solution with funding and mentorship from Stanford and StartX.

The Stanford Digital Learning Design Challenge starts this winter.

Sign up now!


The COVID-19 crisis has amplified demand for high-quality remote learning tools and opportunities. Current models are insufficient at capturing the unique properties of in-person education. Learning is more than a menu of academic courses. Richer, more rewarding learning environments go beyond lectures and worksheets to support a learning community where students persist and thrive. The Stanford Digital Learning Design Challenge empowers you to improve online learning through collaboration, creativity, and research-based solutions.

Who can participate?

Current Stanford students, on their own or with a group, can participate in the challenge. Non-Stanford students can join as long as at least one member of a team is a Stanford student with a valid SUNet ID.

How do I sign up?

There is no application, but you must express your interest by Jan. 13. 
Sign up now!

We also invite you to join one of three information sessions (on Jan. 6, 8:00-9:00 am, Jan. 7, 3:30-4:30pm, or Jan 12, 5:00-6:00pm) to learn more.
RSVP here

What will I learn?

You will learn to approach problems in education through a student-centered lens, using research and design to create solutions that have the potential for broad adoption. You will have the opportunity to develop and pitch for funding. You may also be selected to conduct early-stage prototyping and present to industry professionals.

What problems will I tackle?

Gaps in learning and/or community building, with a focus on challenges exacerbated by COVID-19. This may span literacy, numeracy, equity, engagement, inclusion and diversity, personalized learning, lifelong learning, workforce development, and more. 

Why participate in the Stanford Digital Learning Design Challenge?


The design challenge gives you access to a series of workshops to grow your knowledge and your network. Workshops will focus on learner-centered design processes, learning science and design, technical implementation, teambuilding, and entrepreneurship.



In two pitch events, one during Winter Quarter and one during Spring Quarter, the Stanford Digital Learning Design Challenge and Start X provide you with opportunities to earn funding for prototyping, project development, and growing your for-profit or non-profit enterprise.


Participants selected for funding will gain support from mentors throughout the later-stage research, design, and development phases of their projects. Mentors may include faculty and industry experts, and near-peers with experience in development of digital learning experiences.

Connection to gatekeepers

Participants selected for funding will also be connected to a community of entrepreneurs, faculty experts, and industry gatekeepers interested in leveraging science and design to produce more effective learning solutions.

What is the commitment?

You get what you put in. We encourage individuals and teams to learn and make by attending workshops, soliciting support from mentors, and growing ideas through collaboration. You can choose an entry point that best fits your current skillset and where you are in developing your project.


– Attend workshops
– Develop idea
– Deliver a pitch

Possible award:


– Matched with experts
– Develop early-stage prototype
– Deliver refined pitch and present prototype 

Possible award:


– Mentor support
– Refine prototype
– Eligible for support to build a for-profit or non-profit enterprise


Key dates

Information sessions

Jan. 6, 8 a.m. - 9 a.m.

Jan. 7, 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Jan. 12, 5 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Other dates

Jan. 13 - Deadline to sign up

Jan. 14 - First workshop

March 4 - Winter pitch event

May 6 - Spring pitch event

For more information, please contact Keith Bowen and Shawn Kim at



The Stanford Digital Learning Design Challenge is a project of Stanford’s Transforming Learning Accelerator, which joins the science and design of learning to bring more equitable and effective education solutions to the world.

The Transforming Learning Accelerator is part of Stanford’s Long-Range Vision.

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