The Edge: Can Digital Courseware Promote Equity?
peter.suber's bookmarks 2022-05-13
"It’s too soon to predict the impact of a four-year, $65-million project to develop low-cost digital courseware with the lofty goal of reducing disparities by race, ethnicity, and income in about 20 gateway courses. But several aspects of this effort by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation already seem worth highlighting, as do the questions they raise.
First, some background. The gateway-course project aims to fix a huge problem. Nationwide, about three million students a year enroll in gen-ed courses with “perniciously” persistent completion gaps for students who are Black, Hispanic, and low-income, according to a Gates primer. That costs those students time and money or derails their education altogether.
The foundation hopes this project can reverse the trends by introducing interactive, adaptive courseware built upon proven teaching practices like learn-by-doing assignments. “Really high-quality courseware can be a tool for equity,” Alison Pendergast, the senior program officer at Gates overseeing the project, put it to me when we spoke this week.
Some 18 partners are in on the effort, including digital and open-source publishing companies (Lumen Learning, Macmillan Learning, OpenStax), universities (Arizona State and Carnegie Mellon), and a host of research organizations (too plentiful to list here, but you can see them all at this link). The first two courses in the pipeline are introductory statistics and introductory chemistry. And the plan is for a range of research and faculty-development projects to expand the availability and awareness of high-quality courseware throughout higher ed (hence all the research partners).
At this early stage, three aspects of the project stand out to me. ..."