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Stanford, UCSF, TeachAids launch speaker series to educate public on COVID-19

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In a collaboration between TeachAids, Stanford and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), the CoviDB Speaker Series seeks to provide free online videos to educate the general public about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The series aims “to address some of the most burning questions about COVID-19 with sought-after global health experts,” said Piya Sorcar, Graduate School of Education lecturer and faculty fellow at the School of Medicine’s Center for Global Health.

Sorcar is also the CEO and founder of TeachAids, a nonprofit organization founded to develop global HIV prevention education technology products. TeachAids has recently been working to provide people with resources and information about COVID-19 through CoviDB, a community-edited platform that organizes resources across a comprehensive set of topics relating to COVID-19 for public use. CoviDB was started by faculty and students from Stanford, Dartmouth and other universities.

CoviDB expanded from a crowdsourced information directory to including the speaker series, making its debut on Tuesday. The partnerships between TeachAids, the Stanford Program for International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE), Stanford’s Center for Innovation in Global Health and the Institute for Global Health Sciences (IGHS) at UCSF helped transform the idea of a video series into a reality.

“The idea emerged as we worked on CoviDB and learned more about the types of questions people were asking our experts in the press interviews they were doing,” Sorcar said. “Many of our global community partners reached out wanting accurate and comprehensive information about COVID-19, beyond the basic information found on the daily news and at local health centers.”

The series’ first episode featured Anurag Mairal, adjunct professor of medicine and director of the global outreach programs at the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign. The 27-minute long episode provided viewers with an overview of COVID-19 and helped “clear up some common misconceptions with the latest developments,” according to Sorcar.

New videos will be released every other week. The next episode of the series will feature former Google click fraud czar and global head of AI at F5 Networks Shuman Ghosemajumder, who will discuss data privacy and contact tracing during the pandemic. The series seeks to cover a large array of topics regarding COVID-19.

“We know that many of the people we work with are working long hours at hospitals and labs, so we’re expanding our speaker list beyond medical professionals,” Sorcar said. “We want to get multiple different perspectives on the effects of the virus, and to do so we’ll be interviewing the world’s experts in child education, women’s issues, collegiate sports, developing countries, poverty and homelessness and more.”

SPICE, one of the Stanford-affiliated programs that partnered with TeachAids for this initiative, will provide special information guides for teachers that will be coupled alongside the videos in the series for K-12 and community college students. Through SPICE, CoviDB speaker series will be shared with 10,000 schools throughout the United States.

“At a time when high-quality online education is needed most, we are proud to partner with TeachAids, a global health education leader with a proven track record for success with whom we have collaborated for the past 10 years,” said SPICE Director Gary Mukai.

Sorcar stated that the goal of the video series is to share content that is informative and engaging for everyone — no matter what their socioeconomic status is or where they are located in the world.

“Ensuring that accurate information reaches communities worldwide in a timely fashion is of the utmost importance during a pandemic,” said George Rutherford, UCSF professor of epidemiology and head of the Division of Infectious Disease and Global Epidemiology. “We are excited to partner on this critical education project with TeachAids.”

Contact Camryn Pak at cpak23 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Camryn Pak '23 is a desk editor for news. She is majoring in American Studies with a focus on Inequality, Media and the Law. Contact her at cpak23 'at' stanford.edu.