Online Learning Consortium Awarded Adaptive Learning Grant

A $2.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will support OLC’s efforts to foster effective practices in post-secondary digital learning targeted at improving outcomes for underserved students.

NEWBURYPORT, Mass. (Oct. 14, 2015) — The Online Learning Consortium (OLC), the leading professional organization devoted to advancing the quality of online learning worldwide, today announced it has received a $2.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to speed adoption of next-generation digital courseware solutions by higher education institutions and faculty, in order to improve outcomes in general education courses, especially for disadvantaged and underserved student groups.

Next-generation digital courseware, which is based on the science of learning and best practices in user experience (UX) design, has been shown to improve student learning outcomes for disadvantaged students.

This grant will support OLC’s efforts to promote awareness of research, pedagogy, and best practices in the broader digital learning domain to speed adoption and facilitate the kind of innovation that is critical to closing the widening gap in degree attainment between economically privileged and low-income students.

“There is a need to provide a new lens into the classroom and new insights on the dynamics impacting the use of innovative learning solutions in addressing the barriers to student success,” said Kathleen S. Ives, D.M., CEO and executive director, Online Learning Consortium. “Through several focused initiatives, OLC is committed to helping increase awareness and adoption of innovative learning courseware by higher education faculty and institutions, with a focus on improving student success at colleges and universities across the country.”  

The grant will help accelerate two key OLC initiatives: a prize competition to recognize and reward exemplar institutions and faculty for effective use of digital courseware, and the expansion of the OLC Quality Scorecard to include a digital courseware ancillary scorecard.

Prize Competition

OLC will soon launch a prize competition that will aim to drive institutions and faculty to freshly evaluate next-generation courseware and understand its benefits and how it can be used to promote student success. The competition will also result in the sharing of best practices that will help additional institutions with their adoption of digital learning solutions for advancing student success among disadvantaged groups.

Expansion of the OLC Quality Scorecard

The OLC Quality Scorecard is one of the major tools used to evaluate and improve online programs and has been adopted by hundreds of institutions within the U.S. and globally. With the support of the Gates Foundation, OLC will expand the Quality Scorecard suite with a next-generation digital courseware ancillary scorecard that will include the steps needed to identify, measure and quantify elements that define quality, with a focus on attributes which result in a positive impact on student success, especially for students from minority, first-generation, low-income or other disadvantaged backgrounds.

OLC will share details regarding the grant and the initiatives it will support at this week’s 21st Annual Online Learning Consortium International Conference (#OLC15), Oct. 14-16, in Orlando.

About Online Learning Consortium

The Online Learning Consortium (OLC), formerly The Sloan Consortium, is the leading professional organization devoted to advancing the quality of online learning worldwide. The member-sustained organization offers an extensive set of resources for professional development and institutional advancement of online learning, including, original research, leading-edge instruction, best-practice publications, community-driven conferences and expert guidance. OLC members include educators, administrators, trainers and other online learning professionals, as well as educational institutions, professional societies and corporate enterprises. Visit for more information.

Read the next press release dated October 16, 2015, and see our Gates Grant webpage for more details on the prize competition. 


Media Contact:

Eileen Pacheco