Google sponsors Stanford course showcasing TeachAids methodology
Winter 2019 marked the anniversary of the seventh year that the TeachAids research-based design model was taught to undergraduate and graduate students at Stanford University. Led by Dr. Piya Sorcar, this year’s class was capped at 32 students. From Human Biology to Education to Medicine, the course comprised of students across 15 different academic programs across the university. These diverse backgrounds served as a foundation to unite the class through one common goal: to develop engaging and research-based solutions to address real-world challenges. This year’s problem focus was to inform the design of upcoming concussion education for TeachAids’ newest health initiative– CrashCourse.
The course kicked off with a macro-level view of understanding and studying the most pressing problems of our time. Internationally recognized global leaders shared behind-the-scenes stories of the success and challenges in launching and growing social ventures. Heather Potters, co-founder of PharmaJet, discussed her journey of creating the first FDA approved needle-free injection technology. Dr. S. V. Mahadevan shared his journey launching the world’s largest emergency medical service, in India and beyond. Award-winning documentary film director and author, Pavitra Mehta, spoke about Aravind Eye Hospital’s tremendous impact in eradicating cataract-related blindness in India. “The class was both aspirational and inspirational. We learned about the incredible resilience it takes to launch and scale a social effort. Simultaneously, using the TeachAids methodology, we had the opportunity to work towards creating tangible research-based solutions to design our own interventions” – Komal Kumar, Sophomore, Public Policy.
The course provided students an opportunity to work closely with world-class experts and take a deep dive into solving a global problem. The course culminated in an immersive final project that would emulate the work of a social nonprofit like TeachAids. The mission was to present evidence-based recommendations on how to improve concussion education across a variety of sports. Stanford students were divided into 10 independent teams and randomly assigned to a sport. This year’s sports education focuses included Basketball, Cheerleading, Football, Hockey, Lacrosse, Rugby, Skiing/Snowboarding, Soccer, Water Polo, Wrestling.
Completing this mission was a rigorous and demanding process. The students’ approaches needed to tailor to each sports’ unique demands. For example, lacrosse has different rules and equipment for females and males, but soccer does not. Unlike hockey, skiing and snowboarding are individual sports, so concussions in these two rarely happen from collisions with others. These injury variations meant that students needed to zero in on different aspects of concussions. “Most developers begin with some sort of a solution in mind. We were hyper-focused on understanding and studying the intricacies of the problem. Once we understood the problem from multiple diverse angles, we moved towards exploring potential solutions to target the learners.” said Minh Nguyen, Sophomore, Psychology.
Over the Winter quarter, students delved intensely into research, poring through thousands of pages of academic journal articles, websites, and other useful materials to best understand the latest science. Coupled with this secondary research analysis, students worked carefully to conduct primary research through interviewing an array of stakeholders including students, athletic coaches, and other key figureheads in the field. Interviews ranged from young and professional athletes to parents struggling with how to better support their children through head injuries. The skiing and snowboarding team, for instance, spoke to Adam Pearce, co-founder of the LoveYourBrain foundation. Adam’s brother Kevin Pearce, is an Olympic snowboarder. After a career-ending traumatic brain injury in 2010, Kevin became an advocate for concussion education. These interviews provided students with direct and personal insights into the experience of concussions. Dominique Bratton-Palmer, Master’s student in Management Science and Engineering, explained that “engaging with a myriad people and experiences throughout our research provided an incredible opportunity. The insight we uncovered felt daunting at first, not knowing what direction to take or what question to ask next. Wisdom from class taught us to fall in love with the problem we’re solving, instead of fixating on solutions that were not tailored to our stakeholders. It was when we committed to telling the story of those we sought to help, that we were able to design in a way that creates more profound impact.”
The final presentations were showcased at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. Each team presented to a rotating panel of highly esteemed judges from a variety of fields ranging from academia, industry, and sports. The judges then engaged the students in an active feedback session. The final results of the team’s efforts, integrated with the diverse perspectives from professionals, will help inform the design of TeachAids’ upcoming CrashCourse education content.
A special thanks to all the TeachAids Advisors who served as judges for the 2019 Stanford course. These included:
Leith Abdulla, Chief Technology Officer, HiHello;
Tarun Bhatnagar, Vice President, Google Maps Business Unit & Cloud Automotive, Google;
Brian Bulcke, Former CFL Defensive Lineman;
Kim Caldbeck, Chief Marketing Officer, Coursera;
Jack Clark, Head Coach, University of California Rugby;
Bernadette Clavier, Executive Director of the Center for Social Innovation, Stanford Graduate School of Business;
Dr. Harvey Cohen, Deborah E. Addicott-John A. Kriewall and Elizabeth A. Haehl Family Professor in Pediatrics, Stanford Medicine;
Vinay Goel, Chief Digital Product Officer, JLL; Prof.
Dr. Shelley Goldman, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, Graduate School of Education;
Dick Gould, Vice Chairman, Board of Directors, TeachAids;
Dr. Gerald Grant, Division Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Stanford University School of Medicine;
Jeremy Gunn, The Knowles Family Director of Men’s Soccer, Stanford University;
Dave Higaki, Executive Director and Tennis Director, East Palo Alto Tennis & Tutoring (EPATT);
Kelsey Holshouser, Vice President of Operations, Sparta Science;
Lauri Kanerva, Research Management Lead, Facebook;
Aparna Khare, Speech Scientist, Amazon;
Dr. Lianne Kurina, Associate Professor of Medicine (Primary Care and Population Health), Stanford University School of Medicine;
Dr. Andrea Kussman, Clinical Assistant Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine;
Dr. Angela Lumba-Brown, Co-Director of the Stanford Concussion and Brain Performance Center, Stanford University;
Dr. Anurag Mairal, Director of the Global Exchange Program, Stanford BioDesign;
Dr. Gary Mukai, Director, Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education;
Rob Poulos, Head Football Coach, Sequoia High School;
Barbara Pugliese, Chief Financial Officer, Stanford Alumni Association;
Adhir Ravipati, Vice President of Sports Performance, Protxx;
Ariadne Scott, Assistant Director of Active Mobility, Stanford University;
Dr. Craig Stephens, Director of Public Health Program, Santa Clara University;
Josh Sutcliffe, Director of Rugby, Stanford University;
Dr. Maya Yutsis, Lead Neuropsychologist, Stanford Sports Medicine Concussion Clinic.