Stanton Wortham Appointed Faculty Director of the Penn Online Learning Initiative


Stanton Wortham has been named faculty director of the Online Learning Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, effective Sept. 1. He is the Judy and Howard Berkowitz Professor in Penn’s Graduate School of Education.

The announcement was made by Provost Vincent Price and Beth Winkelstein, vice provost for education.

“Stanton Wortham brings an extraordinary depth of expertise to help Penn chart the future of online learning,” Price said. “We particularly welcome his insights into the power of online learning to provide opportunities to new generations of students and shape their social and cultural identities. He is the ideal scholar to build on the transformative work of Ed Rock, our inaugural faculty director of online learning, whose energy and vision were indispensable to developing online learning at Penn in its first three years.”

Wortham has taught at Penn since 1998, serving twice as interim dean of GSE and for 10 years as associate dean for academic affairs. His pioneering research applies linguistic anthropology to education and classroom discourse, especially in the development of social identities and social positioning. Most recently, he has been leading a multi-year ethnographic and discourse analytic study of social identities among Mexican immigrants in the “New Latino Diaspora” of American towns that have become home to large numbers of new immigrants during the past decade. 

He received a Ph.D. in 1992 from the University of Chicago and a B.A. with highest honors in psychology from Swarthmore College in 1985.

Penn has been a leader in online open learning since 2012, when it became one of the founding university partners of Coursera, the online open learning platform that today offers more than a thousand courses from more than 120 universities around the world. Penn courses have now reached more than two million unique users across a wide range of academic disciplines and will also soon be available on the edX online open learning platform.

On campus, the SAIL, or Structured, Active, In-Class Learning, Initiative, supported in part by a major grant from the Association of American Universities, brings new models of active learning to Penn classrooms, especially in introductory science, math and engineering courses. 

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