Adaptive learning technology addresses cause of college dropouts
A network of twelve higher education and digital learning groups has announced a new national effort to address a root cause of college dropouts – high failure rates in foundational courses – through the provision of scalable, high-quality support to colleges and universities seeking to implement adaptive courseware for foundational courses on their campuses. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Every Learner Everywhere aims to increase the number of institutions taking advantage of adaptive learning in order to improve course outcomes and boost retention and graduation levels while eliminating the equity gap for low-income students, students of color, and first-generation students.
Every Learner Everywhere is a diverse network focused on providing a comprehensive, collaborative, and coordinated approach to help colleges and universities take advantage of the rapidly evolving digital learning landscape in ways that maximize the benefits for students. Every Learner Everywhere (previously named the Digital Learning Solution Network) was established in 2017 through a previous grant from the Gates Foundation. This new investment will allow the network to continue its work through the development, production, and delivery of resources and technical assistance to ensure that colleges and universities have the knowledge and capacity to apply the most effective practices in the implementation of adaptive courseware.
“Every Learner Everywhere is an opportunity to amplify and expand the groundbreaking work that is being done by many postsecondary institutions in this area so that all students can succeed,” said Mike Abbiatti, executive director of WCET and WICHE Vice President for Educational Technologies, the national educational technology organization overseeing and coordinating the Every Learner Everywhere network.
Adaptive courseware is instructional content delivered through software technology leveraging data-driven algorithms that allow for a personalized approach to instruction driven by student interaction. The network will provide colleges and universities with an array of support options ranging from webinars and implementation guidebooks to technical assistance and extended site visits. The network will begin its work in three states – Texas, Ohio, and Florida – and then expand nationwide with plans to reach approximately 200 institutions. As the four-year initiative proceeds, the network will also seek to raise awareness about the efficacy of adaptive courseware and personalized learning.
Foundational courses (college credit-bearing and/or developmental education courses that enroll large numbers of students and have high rates of Ds, Fs, withdrawals, and incompletes) continue to be a barrier to entry for undergraduates. Across all foundational courses, completion rates stand at 63 percent for community colleges and 75 percent for public four-year colleges. For foundational English and math courses, in particular, completion rates currently stand at 21 percent for two-year institutions and 51 percent for four-year institutions. Rates are 6 percent lower for low-income students, students of color, and first-generation students. These failed courses put students further at risk by setting them on a path to leave school without a degree while having accrued debt.
The new grant will enable Every Learner Everywhere to directly address student success in these foundational courses by supporting the effective integration of adaptive learning systems, which offer a student-centric design. Students increasingly require an educational experience that is personalized to their individualized needs and goals. Innovative technological tools, such as adaptive courseware, can tailor the learning experience to the individual and, when implemented effectively, contribute toward increases in student success. This is particularly helpful for students who may otherwise struggle in a traditional learning format.
Two of the network partners – the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and Achieving the Dream – will be leveraging this investment in their direct work with institutions.
“While most colleges and universities are aware of the benefits that adaptive learning can offer students and instructors, many institutions are unsure of the process for effectively implementing adaptive courseware on their campus,” said Karen Vignare, executive director of the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities Personalized Learning Consortium (PLC), which is currently overseeing work among eight public universities that have scaled adaptive courseware to nearly 75,000 course enrollments across 16 disciplines. “The resources and support of this network will allow this work to scale across a broader range of institutions and promote success to an even greater number of students.”
Dr. Karen Stout, president & CEO of Achieving the Dream, said, “As a member of this network, Achieving the Dream is committed to supporting community colleges who have identified the need to foster a culture of teaching excellence as part of their transformation efforts to increase degree completion. The purposeful use of adaptive courseware can be a key lever for closing equity gaps in foundational courses and ensuring students are learning.”
As a result of this investment, Every Learner Everywhere will gain and disseminate valuable learnings that will allow digital learning to scale with the goals of eliminating equity gaps and increasing student success.
“Experience tells us that closing equity gaps in course outcomes requires thoughtful use of data on student learning processes and outcomes,” said Barbara Means, executive director of Learning Sciences Research at Digital Promise, a nonprofit organization devoted to closing the Digital Learning Gap and part of Every Learner Everywhere. “Digital Promise is committed to helping educational institutions design and implement data collection and analysis processes that indicate whether their use of digital learning is helping a broader group of students succeed. We’ll also synthesize findings across institutions to identify how to best use adaptive learning with different kinds of students and for different learning goals.”
“Success in foundational courses is essential to low-income, first generation and underserved minority students, said Adrianna Kezar, professor at the University of Southern California/Co-director Pullias Center/Director Delphi Project. “This project will help provide needed support missing on many campuses and scale an important innovation.”
ABOUT EVERY LEARNER EVERYWHERE
Every Learner Everywhere was established in 2017 as a diverse network focused on providing a comprehensive, collaborative, and coordinated approach to help colleges and universities take advantage of the rapidly evolving digital learning landscape in ways that maximize the benefits for students. The 12 groups that comprise the Every Learner Everywhere network are:
- Achieving the Dream (ATD)
- Association of Chief Academic Officers (ACAO)
- Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU)
- Digital Learning Research Network (dLRN)
- Digital Promise
- Intentional Futures (iF)
- Online Learning Consortium (OLC)
- SXSW EDU
- Tyton Partners
Every Learner Everywhere has connected experts in the field of digital learning, aligned around a shared vision, and has begun providing resources to increase student success and completion and eliminate the equity gap that exists in higher education. The network currently comprises 12 partners that are actively engaged in the research and development of practices that leverage digital technology to enhance the teaching and learning experiences.
ABOUT ACHIEVING THE DREAM (ATD)
Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 220 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. ATD is making progress in closing academic achievement gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with nearly 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 41 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students.
ABOUT THE ASSOCIATION OF CHIEF ACADEMIC OFFICERS (ACAO)
The mission of ACAO is to provide a global forum for sharing best practices, discussing current academic issues, and promoting the educational interests of member institutions and their Chief Academic Officers. ACAO was formed in 2013 with the help of the American Council on Education (ACE) in order to support the expanding role of the chief academic officer on most campuses. In 2014, it became an independent nonprofit, whose annual meeting and programming continues to be coordinated with ACE. The membership number is growing and now stands at over 100 institutions whose members work to enhance the effectiveness of CAOs through networking and professional development opportunities and by engaging in conversations focused on issues that cut across the diversity of higher education institutions and missions. A major focus for the past two years has been on the launching and development of the ACAO Digital Fellows Program that provides a support network for CAOs to pilot digital adaptive courseware on their campuses.
ABOUT THE ASSOCIATION OF PUBLIC AND LAND-GRANT UNIVERSITIES (APLU)
The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is a research, policy, and advocacy organization representing 238 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations. Founded in 1887, the APLU is North America’s oldest higher education association with member institutions in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, Canada, and Mexico. Annually, member campuses enroll 4.8 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.3 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff, and conduct $44.9 billion in university-based research.
ABOUT DIGITAL LEARNING RESEARCH NETWORK (dLRN)
The Digital Learning Research Network (dLRN forms connections among researchers and educators to close the gap between research and practice. The participating researchers are leaders in innovative pedagogical approaches which will have important implications for the future of higher education. The primary beneficiaries of the project’s outcomes will be underrepresented learners and institutions that are making the transition to digital learning. The work includes identifying commonalities between research capacities and institutional needs focused on research questions, partnering Tier-One researchers with participating state systems, and collaborating to develop appropriate, high-impact solutions.
ABOUT DIGITAL PROMISE
Digital Promise was created with the mission of accelerating innovation in education to improve opportunities to learn. American education has pockets of excellence that outshine the best of the best around the world. All across the country, innovative education leaders and classroom instructors are engaging, motivating, and nurturing students to develop mindsets for lifelong learning. And yet, huge gaps exist between learning outcomes, graduation rates, and college readiness of students based on race, class, and where they live. Our vision is that all people at every stage of their lives have access to inspiring and effective learning experiences that help them acquire the knowledge and skills they need to thrive and continuously learn in an ever-changing world. To achieve this vision, we create partnerships between education institutions, researchers, and technology developers. Because when everyone has equitable access to high-quality learning opportunities, when everyone participates, and when everyone learns, we all benefit from a more engaged, informed and just society.
EdSurge is a news and media company that reports and shares stories on educational innovation and technology. We aim to connect audiences who share common goals to improve teaching and learning. We share detailed information about what emerging technologies can–and cannot–do to support learning among students in grades K-12 and in higher ed. We report on latest news and trends in the edtech industry to help educators using technology to support teaching and learning; entrepreneurs building edtech products; investors, policy makers and others involved with education. Along with sharing news, trends and research, we connect people through our jobs board and through networking events, including virtual and live workshops and conferences. Our database of rich information about emerging products, both in K12 and higher ed, continues to be the go-to source for the industry. With the right tools, technology can transform “learning” from something we did in classrooms at fixed hours of the day to something we can do anywhere, anytime.
EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association that strengthens higher education through technology innovation. We are a community of IT leaders and other technology professionals working together to tackle challenges and leverage opportunities that are constantly evolving within higher education. We welcome diversity, in viewpoints and experience, and believe in the transformative power of uncommon thinking for the common good. We support those who lead, manage, deploy, and use technology to advance higher education. We welcome diversity, in viewpoints and experience, and believe in the transformative power of uncommon thinking for the common good. We support those who lead, manage, deploy, and use information technology to advance higher education.
ABOUT INTENTIONAL FUTURES (iF)
Intentional Futures is a modern consultancy. We solve hard problems that matter by combining actionable insights with imaginative solutions. Courageous leaders work with us to turn their vision into reality. We are skilled generalists who excel at learning rapidly and bringing insights and perspectives from a wide range of categories, including education, technology, healthcare, and the social sector.
ABOUT ONLINE LEARNING CONSORTIUM (OLC)
The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is a collaborative community of higher education leaders and innovators, dedicated to advancing quality digital teaching and learning experiences designed to reach and engage the modern learner – anyone, anywhere, anytime. OLC inspires innovation and quality through an extensive set of resources, including, best-practice publications, quality benchmarking, leading-edge instruction, community-driven conferences, practitioner-based and empirical research and expert guidance. The growing OLC community includes faculty members, administrators, trainers, instructional designers, and other learning professionals, as well as educational institutions, professional societies and corporate enterprises.
ABOUT SXSW EDU
The SXSW EDU® Conference & Festival cultivates and empowers a community of engaged stakeholders to advance teaching and learning. The annual four-day event affords registrants open access to engaging sessions, immersive workshops, interactive learning experiences, film screenings, early-stage startups, business opportunities, and networking. SXSW EDU is a component of the South by Southwest® family of conferences and festivals. Join the passionate and innovative community at SXSW EDU, March 4-7, 2019 in Austin, Texas.
ABOUT TYTON PARTNERS (TP)
Tyton Partners is the leading provider of investment banking and strategy consulting services to the global knowledge sector. With offices in Boston, Stamford, CT, Chicago, and San Francisco, the firm has an experienced team of advisors who deliver a unique spectrum of services. From strategy and market development decision-support to mergers and acquisitions and capital markets access, Tyton helps institutions, companies, organizations, and investors navigate the complexities of the education, media, and information markets. Tyton Partners leverages a deep foundation of transactional and advisory experience and unparalleled level of global relationships to make its clients’ aspirations a reality and catalyze innovation in the sector.
Every Learner Everywhere is supported by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) and WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET). WCET is pleased to be the intermediary organization supporting Every Learner Everywhere. WCET – the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies – is the leader in the practice, policy, & advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. WCET is a national, member-driven, non-profit which brings together colleges and universities, higher education organizations and companies to collectively improve the quality and reach of technology-enhanced learning programs.
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), WCET’s parent organization, serves states, students, and institutions throughout and beyond the American West, and is one of four U.S. regional interstate compacts. Learn more: https://www.wiche.edu/