APLU Announces Adaptive-Courseware Grants: Bringing Scale to Scale

APLU Announces Adaptive-Courseware Grants: Bringing Scale to Scale


Last week the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) announced seven universities will receive grants to use adaptive courseware in an effort to achieve higher completion rates at lower costs. Over three years, each institution will receive $515,000 “to adopt, implement and scale use of adaptive courseware in high-enrollment, blended learning courses in multiple departments and programs to improve student success,” according to Meaghan Duff, executive director of APLU’s Personalized Learning Consortium (PLC). The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is funding the grant.

APLU selected the seven schools from applicants among its 235-member public research institutions, land-grant institutions and state university systems. Grant recipients include Arizona State University, Georgia State University and the University of Mississippi.

“We’ve assembled a cohort of institutions that represent different paths to achieve scale,” Duff tells EdSurge. “There’s no right way to implement technology at scale. This grant represents ways that different institutions will work to achieve scale—each aligning with the goals they have for their own students.”

The Courseware

Each of the institutions will be using off-the-shelf courseware in blended environments from a list provided by BMGF. Duff tells EdSurge, “We think faculty created courseware is a wonderful thing, but this grant is focused on scaled use of commercial off-the-shelf courseware—with some modification as implemented.”

Rahim Rajan, senior program officer on the Postsecondary Success team at BMFG tells EdSurge in an email, “This list represents a first effort by the foundation that will help us better understand the quality and availability of adaptive products in the higher education space. It includes a diverse array of adaptive providers (for profit and nonprofit) and this list will be improved and iterated on, based on what we learn from early efforts in the APLU grant activities.”

According to Rajan, the list of courseware products was selected based on three criteria:

(1) The product has demonstrated adaptive capabilities

(2) The provider’s adaptive products cover a wide variety of subjects across the undergraduate, general education curriculum

(3) The product has achieved significant scale (beyond pilots) and is actively used by multiple faculty at a varying types of institutions, such as community colleges, four years, publics, and privates.

See the list of courseware below.

Bringing Adaptive to Scale

BMGF has given over $10 million to APLU since 2011. The adaptive-courseware grant conversation began in early 2015 after the BMGF announced announced its Next Generation Courseware grant recipients, seven organizations developing adaptive courseware at scale.

Duff tells EdSurge, “Our goal for our grantees is to use adaptive courseware in between 15 and 20 percent of their general education enrollments through the end of the grant term in December 2019.” The grantees enroll over 200,000 students, with nearly half taking general education courses every year.

Grant recipients will choose from the following courseware:

Disclosure: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the APLU adaptive-courseware grants. EdSurge also receives funding from the foundation.

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