H-star history: building on a tradition of innovation

Two students standing annd writing on a wall talkerH-STAR was created in 2005-06 by faculty from two interdisciplinary university centers: CSLI (Center for the Study of Language and Information) and SCIL (Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning), with the intention of continuing and building on the long tradition of innovative research for which both centers are known, but with the much broader scope required to tackle the major people-technology problems of today.


CSLI was founded in 1983, with initial funding from the System Development Foundation (a nonprofit spinoff from the RAND Corporation) to investigate fundamental issues of language from the different perspectives of linguistics, mathematical logic, philosophy, and computation. After merging with SCIL to create H-STAR, CSLI was re-established as a separate laboratory in fall 2008.


The Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning (SCIL) was founded in late 2001 with a focus on research directed to inventing the future of learning and establishing a center of excellence to conduct scholarly research for advancing the sciences, technologies, and practices of learning to support K-12 and college level learning and teaching. It was launched in part with a Hewlett Foundation Institutional Development Grant, Presidential Funds, and a number of National Science Foundation grants. SCIL ceased to operate as a separate institute in 2011. Projects that would formerly have been conducted within SCIL are now carried out in the H-STAR Institute.

Wallenberg Hall

H-STAR occupies research space on the fourth floor of Wallenberg Hall, a state-of-the-art research laboratory and testing ground for technology applications in the classroom. In addition to its research focus, H-STAR also seeks to foster innovations in higher education that serve as practical applications of the sciences of learning. This goal is achieved by engaging Stanford faculty within Wallenberg Hall and beyond, as well as globally distributed partners, in researching and testing new pedagogical applications of current and emerging technologies in the context of their regular teaching responsibilities.

LSTD program

Students in the Learning Sciences and Technology Design (LSTD) Ph.D. program carry out foundational research on learning, and they design innovative learning technologies. Graduates of the program take leadership positions as faculty, research scientists in universities and companies, designers and evaluators of formal and informal learning environments, and in learning technology policy-making. LSTD typically has a cohort of over 25 full-time students, in addition to the 15-20 masters students per year in the project-focused curriculum of the Learning Design and Technology (LDT) program. These students are active in H-STAR Institute research activities and make valuable contributions to our programs.


In 2002, we launched mediaX, a University-Industry Partners Program that focuses on the initiation and support of interdisciplinary research of direct relevance to industry. All mediaX research is directed to issues that emerge from collaborative deliberations between the program's industry partners and H-STAR faculty and mediaX leadership. Industry partners help select the actual projects funded and are invited to participate in the research.