Winners of the first phase, or Wave I, of the Next General Learning Challenge—a “collaborative, multi-years initiative created to address the barriers to educational innovation and tap the potential of technology to dramatically improve college readiness and completion in the United States”—were announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Twenty-nine educational organizations will share a grant in the amount of $10.6 million to implement technology-driven initiatives designed to boost student success and college completion rates.
“Grant winners together serve more than 117,000 students through more than 200 institutions, including 78 community colleges.” To apply for funding, schools were required to submit a proposal with their plan for using educational technology. Winners were selected based on their previous ability to produce real results through education reform, as well as their predicted “compelling path to expand the impact of their work.” Winning proposals focused on four main topics:
- Blended learning
- Interactive games and social media for class engagement
- Open course resources for introductory math and English classes
- Analytical software to measure what works best
Among the winners is Central Piedmont Community College. The school proposes to develop a support system to help orient new students to online learning. The system will include “an orientation course, student-assessment tools, online student profiles, and staff professional development.” To determine if the new system can be used across multiple campuses, several partner colleges will also test it for usability.
Also a winner, Bryn Mawr College will attempt to prove that online learning can be an interactive experience for students, even at liberal-arts colleges that are traditionally praised for their small, intimate learning environments. The college plans to launch open source courses in math and science.
Read more here.