Course Operations Specialist

California, United States
24 Sep 2018
End of advertisement period
24 Nov 2018
Contract Type
Full Time

The office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (VPTL) seeks flexible, energetic and productive team members to stimulate and support innovation in teaching. The Online Learning team comprises educators, instructional designers, software engineers, video and course production and operations specialists and researchers, as well as graduate students in education, computer science, statistics and communication. Working closely with faculty, we help produce online courses, develop software platforms and support exceptional teaching.

The Course Operations Specialist will be responsible for the bedrock of support to teaching staff (instructors and teaching assistants) for all courses using the OpenEdX platform at Stanford, with 0.5 FTE being dedicated specifically to support of courses within the Digital MEdIC initiative. S/he will also help build, maintain, and grow Digital MEdIC’s online course environment. Digital MEdIC is a health initiative launched in partnership between VPTL and Stanford Medicine to create and share medical education content with a global audience.

The specialist will need to understand the ins and outs of the OpenEdX platform, and effectively communicate this knowledge, both in a one-on-one setting and by creating documentation. S/he will interact directly with faculty across a range of disciplines, to understand their needs and how their material and assessments can be best presented online. This will be an opportunity to interact with world-class faculty, and work with them on implementing best practices for online teaching in their courses.

On the student side, s/he will triage customer support email, create appropriate FAQs, and determine when a student issue really indicates a problem and needs to be escalated. The successful candidate will reproduce student and instructor-reported issues as needed, so that bugs can be crisply defined.

The Course Operations Specialist works as part of the OpenEdX engineering team. S/he must be comfortable acting as the "voice of the customer" in daily and weekly engineering meetings providing insight into faculty and student issues with the platform. S/he will also work closely with the Digital MedIC content and technology teams, contributing to team meetings to help create a better learning environment for global users. The Course Operations Specialist position is an 18-month fixed term position.

To be considered for this position, you must submit a cover letter. Please also submit an example of something you've written in a previous job, whether it's instructions for how to do something, a memo, or even an email that needed to be carefully worded. Since writing is an important part of this role, you'll be asked to write something (short) during your in-person Interview.

The final candidate will need to successfully pass a background check to be considered for this position.


  • Act as single point of contact between IT and the customer.
  • Perform necessary business and system analysis to gather all pertinent data related to issues in production system, patches, upgrades, and enhancements.
  • Collaborate with business partners to gather requirements and identify gaps between requirements and the application. Assist business partners with determining deliverables, creating system test plans, identifying test scenarios, managing user-acceptance testing and conducting production roll out of resolution.
  • Collaborate with developers on application specifications and system enhancements to ensure appropriateness of design and delivering resolution of issues; work with business partners to test and deploy resolution in a timely manner.
  • Assist with initial determination of the feasibility of requests and ensure user requirements are thoroughly and accurately documented in accordance with standard techniques.
  • Interact with team members, the user community and others on an ongoing basis to ensure accurate identification and delivery of business requirements.
  • Make formal recommendations, and write application specifications, including conversion, upgrade and interface routines.
  • Develop functional specifications to ensure compliance with system development lifecycle methods.
  • Team up with business partners and developers to set realistic response time and/or deliverable expectations.
  • Manage the implementation of the approved development in partnership with developers and business partners.

Education & Experience:

  • Bachelor's degree and eight years of relevant experience or combination of education and relevant experience.
  • Desired Qualifications:
  • 2+ years of related work experience in a customer-facing role.
  • Able to create documentation in HTML format.
  • Experience writing step by step, end user instructions.
  • Experience using a Unix command line (navigating file directories, running scripts using
  • command line arguments, etc).
  • Demonstrated ability to learn new technical tools quickly and teach others to effectively
  • use those tools.
  • Ability to handle multiple projects with shifting priorities.
  • Strong interpersonal skills.
  • Excellent spoken and written English.
  • Mature judgment and diplomacy required to interact effectively with a broad range of
  • people, including faculty, academic staff, engineers, and vendors and contractors, both
  • individually and in groups.

Desirable Qualifications:

  • Technical writing experience.
  • Experience using XML.
  • Ability to query a database using SQL.
  • Experience supporting software.
  • Knowledge of Learning Management Systems functionality and features.

Certifications and Licenses: none


  • Constantly perform desk-based computer tasks.
  • Frequently sit, grasp lightly/fine manipulation.
  • Occasionally stand/walk, use a telephone.
  • Rarely writing by hand, lift/carry/push/pull objects that weigh up to 10 pounds.

* - Consistent with its obligations under the law, the University will provide reasonable accommodation to any employee with a disability who requires accommodation to perform the essential functions of the job.

Work extended hours.


  • Interpersonal Skills: Demonstrates the ability to work well with Stanford colleagues and clients and with external organizations.
  • Promote Culture of Safety: Demonstrates commitment to personal responsibility and value for safety; communicates safety concerns; uses and promotes safe behaviors based on training and lessons learned.
  • Subject to and expected to comply with all applicable University policies and procedures, including but not limited to the personnel policies and other policies found in the University's Administrative Guide,

Stanford is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Consistent with its obligations under the law, the University will provide reasonable accommodation to any employee with a disability who requires accommodation to perform the essential functions of the job.

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