A centerpiece of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation's education giving is the idea that teachers and learners alike should be able to access high-quality educational materials via the Internet, enabling them to acquire and share knowledge, as well as disseminate best practices.
With this in mind, Hewlett has joined with a leader in the massive open online course (MOOC) movement to create a series of courses that are designed to support teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) courses.
Hewlett awarded $300,000 to Stanford University to develop this series of MOOCs. The choice of Stanford makes sense, as the university was one of the first institutions of higher education to embrace the growing MOOC movement. Its Stanford OpenEdX platform provides free online courses and has been recognized for research in the design and delivery of college instruction.
In addition, two Stanford professors were the founders of Coursera, the technology company that is one of the leading providers of a wide range of MOOCs from leading universities around the world.
For Hewlett, the $300,000 award to Stanford continues the funder's advocacy of Open Educational Resources that can be accessed online. Since 2002, Hewlett Foundation has funded projects to make educational content available online. With this grant, Hewlett extends its reach into MOOCs to provide additional support for teachers who teach students with limited proficiency in English, a growing population and one that needs the additional support that ESL provides.
With the growth of platforms such as Coursera and Udemy, the popularity of MOOCs continues to grow, along with their potential to enable growing number of learners to access educational material. Nonprofits interested in leveraging this technology to improve learning for targeted populations should keep an eye on what Hewlett is doing in this space.