Home / Spiffy's Blog / Isabelle Hau: Preparing All Learners to Thrive
Isabelle Hau: Preparing All Learners to Thrive

Isabelle Hau: Preparing All Learners to Thrive


Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Hey, friends! It's Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on changemaking leaders making the world a more equitable place! I have another great interview for you this week. Today, I’m excited to cruise around with Isabelle Hau, the executive director of the Stanford Accelerator for Learning. Let’s see what she’s been up to!

Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Isabelle! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through your organization? 

Isabelle: Glad to be with you, Spiffy! At the Stanford Accelerator for Learning, we envision a world where all learners are prepared to thrive in a dynamic future. Sadly, we are in the midst of the largest learning crisis of our lifetime. We need to accelerate quality and equitable solutions that make a positive difference for all learners, starting early in life and throughout the lifelong learning journey. We also need to accelerate collaborations, as none of us can do it alone. Last, we need to accelerate the dissemination of scientific knowledge into practices, inside of classrooms, and wherever learning takes place. This is precisely what the Stanford Accelerator for Learning is working on to pave the way for breakthrough impact for all learners.

Spiffy: That is awesome! What motivates you to tackle this challenge?

Isabelle: I am motivated by impact. Specifically, I believe learning is one of the most powerful means for individual and family well-being, and it is key in building thriving and more equitable societies. What excites me most about the work at Stanford Accelerator for Learning is its ambition to impact millions of learners through a portfolio of evidence-based solutions while transforming the way we think about research-to-practice and practice-to-research.

Spiffy: How would you describe the impact of your work?

Isabelle: Our work at the Stanford Accelerator for Learning has two types of impact: direct and indirect. Our portfolio of research and solutions directly impacts learners. For instance, we have developed an innovative and research-anchored solution for dyslexia screening, called the ROAR, that is now supporting hundreds of thousands of children with learning differences. Separately, our work in high impact tutoring has indirectly led to the diffusion of quality tutoring solutions for more than 30% of all students in US public schools—elementary through high school—via policy and research. That’s over 17 millions of kids touched. 

Spiffy: Wonderful! Tell me about a recent milestone or initiative by you or your organization. What impact does that make? 

Isabelle: The Stanford Accelerator for Learning recently hosted a timely meeting on possibilities and concerns for the use of a new artificial intelligence application called ChatGPT in classrooms. The meeting was held with 50+ teachers, Stanford scholars, and OpenAI, the inventor of ChatGPT.  It was a rare opportunity to have educators, researchers, and a leading tech developer convening to shape the future of this emerging technology WITH and FOR educators in service of teaching and learning.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Isabelle: In addition to my work partnering with innovators and researchers in education at Stanford, I am also a prolific writer working to spread ideas and elevate inspiring examples of impact. You can find my musings in publications like EdSurge and Forbes, in my popular weekly newsletter Small Talks, and in a forthcoming book relating to the importance of relationships in learning. 

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Isabelle—it’s been an honor!

Isabelle Hau is the executive director of the Stanford Accelerator for Learning, a university-wide initiative to bring quality, scalable, and equitable learning experiences for all learners throughout their lifespan. Previously, she was a partner at Imaginable Futures. Her work has positively impacted millions of learners and families. (Nominated by Shelley Pasnik of the Education Development Center. First published on the Ladderworks website on March 2, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.