Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gates funds postsecondary online courses

The interest in blended learning/hybrid courses (aligned with MPICT's goals) continues with the recent NYT 10/10/10 article
In Higher Education, a Focus on Technology by Steve Lohr.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have funded an initial $20M for postsecondary online courses, through the New Generation Learning Challenges.

The Next Generation Learning Challenges Wave 1: Building Blocks for College Completion

RFP objectives:

Improve course completion, persistence, and college completion through
sustainable, broad-scale technology-enabled product, project, or
service-based solutions in one or more of the following challenge areas
(listed in alphabetical order):

• Scaling the adoption of blended learning models, in order to improve learning
outcomes, cost-effectiveness, and course/program completion across a range
of institutions and academic programs.

• Scaling the collection and real-time use of learner analytics by students, instructors,
and advisors, in order to improve student success.

• Scaling deeper learning and engagement through the use of richly interactive
technologies, in order to improve student learning outcomes.

• Scaling the development and adoption of high-quality, modular, openly licensed
core courseware, in order to drive broad-scale improvement in student achievement.
Preference will be given in this wave of funding to proposals focused on scaling
solutions in the context of high-enrollment, low-success developmental and/or
general education courses—core or so-called “gatekeeper” courses—or in
high-demand occupational programs such as nursing and allied health, business,
criminal justice, and education.

Award structure: Awards may be made at one of two levels:
• For the open, core courseware challenge, awards will be made at up to $750,000,
for periods not to exceed 15 months (with the option of a six-month no-cost
extension, subject to approval by EDUCAUSE). Follow-on awards, totaling up to
an additional $5,000,000, may be made to one or more grantees from this wave
demonstrating particular effectiveness in scaling the development and adoption of
open core courseware.

• For the other three challenge areas, awards will be made up to $250,000 for
periods not to exceed 15 months (with the option of a six-month no-cost extension).
There is a possibility that projects demonstrating particular effectiveness and scaling
will receive additional funds in a future wave of funding.

Eligible applications will meet the following requirements:
Target learners: Postsecondary education students located in the United States.
Preference will be given to proposals demonstrating particular efficacy with
low-income young adults under the age of 26.

Eligible applicants: Postsecondary institutions, taxable or tax-exempt organizations,
and U.S. federal, state, tribal, and local government agencies. Participating
organizations need not be U.S.-based, but the proposal effort must be focused in the
United States, or on U.S. citizens living abroad (e.g., U.S. military personnel stationed elsewhere). Proposals focusing on the open core courseware challenge must include
participation by one or more groups or consortia of postsecondary institutions.

Target areas: Strong preference will be given for improving student success in
high-enrollment, low-completion courses in developmental education,
general education, or high-demand occupational programs
(i.e., core, “gatekeeper” courses). Examples of gatekeeper courses would
include mathematics (e.g., math fundamentals; pre-algebra; algebra;
intermediate algebra; statistics); accounting; biology; chemistry; economics;
English (composition I & II); history (U.S. history I & II); physics; political science
(American government); psychology; and sociology. Examples of high-demand
occupational courses would include key introductory courses in the following
areas: nursing and allied health; business; criminal justice; education;
information technology, etc.

This list is not exhaustive, but proposals for courses not listed must make a credible case that efforts to scale solutions for the selected course(s) will have at least comparable impact on student persistence and completion as will efforts directed at the courses listed.

Intended student outcomes: Proposals must track and address four outcomes:
• Course completion.
• Semester-to-semester persistence.
• Mastery of subject-matter learning outcomes.
• Mastery of deeper learning outcomes (deeper learning and engagement, including
but not necessarily limited to critical thinking, complex problem solving,
working collaboratively, communicating effectively, and fostering self-directed learning/metacognition)

Key Dates
Monday, October 11, 2010 RFPs announced
Friday, November 19, 2010 Pre-proposals due
Monday, January 24, 2011 Invitations for full proposals issued
Monday, February 21, 2011 Full proposals due
Thursday, March 31, 2011 Awards announced

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