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Current Projects: K-12

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on schools, and it has brought into sharp relief inequities in opportunity and access. The Transforming Learning Accelerator is funding projects that help stakeholders in quality K-12 educational systems during the pandemic and beyond.


Strengthening child literacy through a literacy support network 

Literacy is a key to success yet over one-third of U.S. children are reading and writing below grade level in 4th grade. The situation is likely to worsen with remote learning during the pandemic. We propose using technology to create a literacy support network for children experiencing literacy difficulties. Our work will explore amplifying educator-parent-student connections through text messages, AI, and tutoring to support child literacy.

  • Principal Investigator: Emma Brunskill, School of Engineering
  • Research team: Rebecca Silverman, Graduate School of Education; Renee Scott, Haas Center

Creative practices for online teaching and learning of music and digital arts 

Music and art are particularly challenging to teach and learn remotely. There are technological barriers, as well pedagogical. Through workshops open to both students and educators, we will share exciting developments happening in remote music teaching at Stanford with high schools across the country. We will develop and offer training workshops with high school students and teachers, and evaluate effectiveness of programs which are put into practice.

  • Principal Investigator: Chris Chafe, School of Humanities and Sciences
  • Research team: Alex Chechile, School of Humanities and Sciences

Creating Possibilities: Online learning through Minecraft communities 

Moving the PK-12 enterprise to digital contexts during the COVID-19 crisis has accentuated local school systems’ incapacities to develop and deliver high quality instruction to students with extensive learning and communication needs, including students with autism and students with significant intellectual (dis) abilities. We propose building a learning community that operates on the principle that the best and most engaging learning is through play. We intend to create a space for peer play and learning that captures the power of collaboration between learners of all abilities as they seek to create their own play space using imagination, analysis, communication, and problem solving skills.

  • Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Kozleski, Graduate School of Education
  • Research team: Nick Haber and Kelly McKenna, Graduate School of Education; Kathryn Ringland, UC Santa Cruz

Leveraging social media approaches to capture, share, and inspire maker pedagogy 

Instructional preparation time right now is more limited than ever before. With the small snippets of time that they have available, local K-12 teachers are urgently seeking out quick and useful suggestions for how to provide engaging learning experiences through online schooling. In collaboration with the San Mateo County Office of Education, our team will develop a new approach for teachers to produce and share online “feeds” of innovative maker pedagogy. This project will involve both researching local teachers' needs and developing an online platform to quickly discover and share ideas for digital pedagogy that work.

  • Principal Investigator: Victor Lee, Graduate School of Education
  • Research team: Janet Carlson, Graduate School of Education; Christine Bywater, Graduate School of Education

Dogbot: A robotic companion for emotion regulation and stress management for K-12 students during remote learning

The emotional wellbeing of students is one of the most difficult yet crucial parts of education, especially in the current pandemic. While pet ownership has been shown to improve physical health, like blood pressure, and mental health, such as pre-adolescent psychosocial development, not all households can include pets. Thus, we propose the use of a small pet-like non-zoomorphic desktop robot, Dogbot, to help regulate emotions and manage stress levels of K-12 students through physical interaction during the remote learning experience. In particular, we will investigate the effectiveness of different elements of touch such as warmth and breathing motion.

  • Principal Investigator: Pablo Paredes, School of Medicine
  • Research team: Sean Follmer, School of Engineering; Lawrence Kim, School of Medicine

Remote hands-on skills lab for high school STEM courses using virtual reality 

Virtual reality simulations are the “hands-on STEM labs” of a learning future. We have seen notable progress towards the “learning on demand, from anywhere” in a COVID- 19 remote teaching world with online classrooms and affordable computers connecting students, teachers, and digital curricula. However, these remote classrooms fall short when trying to teach STEM subjects that rely on hands-on exploration and physical collaboration with peers. Working collaboratively with five underserved Bay Area high schools, we aim to introduce hands-on skills labs in their STEM courses using remote affordable VR format. 

  • Principal Investigator: Sakti Srivastava
  • Research team: Miguel Angeles, School of Medicine; Beth Habelow, School of Medicine; Patricia Youngblood, School of Medicine; Matt Hasel, TriPoint Labs; Joel Sadler, Piper