Big News for OLC and the Online Learning Community


Kathleen S. Ives, D.M., CEO and Executive Director, Online Learning Consortium

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The OLC team has landed in Orlando for the 21st Annual Online Learning Consortium International Conference – if you’re joining us, whether in person or virtually, welcome!

I’m thrilled to be able to jumpstart things this week with some very exciting news for OLC and our community. Today we’re announcing that OLC has received a $2.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – read today’s press release.

The intention of this grant is to help speed adoption of innovative digital courseware solutions—and to improve outcomes in general education courses—especially for disadvantaged and underserved student groups.

Digital Courseware’s Influence on Learning Outcomes

There is a widening gap in degree attainment between economically privileged and low-income students. A 2015 report by Pell Institute and PennAHEAD indicates that 77% of students from wealthy families earned bachelor’s degrees by age 24, in contrast with only 9% of those from low-income households. Another way to look at it is that economically privileged students are eight times more likely to graduate than their disadvantaged peers.

Disparity in degree attainment rates grows wider every year. By increasing the adoption of digital courseware and by facilitating courseware innovation, we believe we can help close this massive gap.

Digital courseware is the term used to describe adaptive digital tools that support student learning, including personalized content, videos and software—such as online games, interactive textbooks, and mobile apps. Next-generation digital courseware is based on the science of learning and best practices in user experience design. Research indicates that learning outcomes for disadvantaged students improve with the use of digital learning tools.

How OLC and Our Community Will Have an Impact

With the support of this grant, we’ll be able to accelerate two key OLC initiatives aimed at speeding the adoption of next-generation digital courseware. The first is a new prize competition to recognize exemplar uses of digital courseware by institutions and faculty. And the second is the expansion of the OLC Quality Scorecard suite with the addition of a digital courseware ancillary scorecard. Watch for details on the Quality Scorecard expansion early next year.

We’ll be sharing more about the new prize competition during a special session at OLC2015 on Friday, Oct. 16 at 9:30 am. Conference attendees should join us in Southern Hemisphere II for “Showcasing Excellence and Innovation: Announcing a Faculty & Institutional Prize Competition.” For those not attending the conference, we’ll be streaming this session to virtual attendees. Sign up for a virtual pass to get all the details.

I’m anticipating a very inspiring week here in Orlando and an exciting year ahead for OLC and the online learning community – I hope you will be a part of it!

About the Author

Kathleen S. Ives, D.M., CEO and Executive Director, Online Learning Consortium

Kathleen Staff Photo Color

Kathleen S. Ives, D.M. has worked in online technology for over 20 years and is currently the Online Learning Consortium’s Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director where she oversees the organization’s strategic direction. Dr. Ives assumes this leadership role after serving as interim CEO and Executive Director since October 2013.

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