Blended Learning, Domestic, Education Quality, K-12, Open Source Education, Required, Teachers, Technology, Universities & Colleges, Videos - Written by on Friday, June 29, 2012 7:05 - 0 Comments

Latest Gates Foundation Grants Spread $9 Million To edX, Educause, UoPeople & Others

“The Thinker” Photo Credit: Steve Jurvetson via Compfight

Education is one of the primary causes of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which recently announced a total of $9 million to these  projects in postsecondary education. It aimed to fund “breakthrough models” and ways students could earn credentials that are valuable in the labor market but without causing them to take on large amounts of debt.

The Gates Foundation pledged $1 million to the edX project of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard, a project aimed at creating a global community of learners who take classes online from professors from the two elite Boston-area schools. It’s interesting that Gates dropped out of Harvard and started Microsoft in his early days… and is not giving back to its open source learning project. The grant will specifically boost the core computer science class in the program. MIT and Harvard have also each committed $30 million each to edX.

The EdSurge newsletter highlights the other grants including:

  • $3.3 million to EDUCAUSE, earmarked for the four winners of the Next Generation Learning Challenges‘ recent call for submissions.
  • $3 million to MyCollege Foundation, which is establishing a non-profit college with “adaptive online learning solutions” to enable students to get affordable degrees
  • $1 million to MIT to develop a free comp sci online course through edX
  • $1 million to the Research Foundation of the City University of New York (CUNY) to create the first new CUNY college in four decades
  • $500k to the University of the People, a tuition-free, non-profit, online institution using OER and open-source technology to deliver access to higher education
  • $450k to the League for Innovation in the Community College to develop and pilot a national consortium of leading community colleges and online universities that help adults attain postsecondary credentials

Bill Gates explained his focus on education in a January annual letter:

Our work in U.S. education focuses on two related goals: making sure that all students graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and that young adults who want to get a postsecondary degree have a way to do so. On the K-12 side, our top priority is helping schools implement a personnel system that improves the effectiveness of teaching, because research shows that effective teaching is the most important in-school factor in student achievement. There are a lot of great teachers in public schools, and a lot of teachers who want to be great but don’t have the tools they need. If we could make the average teacher as good as the best teachers, the benefit to students would be phenomenal.

I’m also excited to see more and more schools “flip” the classroom so that passive activities like lectures are done outside of class and in-class time is used for more collaborative and personal interactions between students and teachers. Khan Academy is a great example of a free resource that any teacher can use to take full advantage of class time and make sure all students advance at their own pace.

Great work is also being done by companies that are thinking beyond simply digitizing textbooks. CK-12 Foundation, Udemy, and Ednovo have great teacher- and community–generated content. A simple example of how powerful the community can be in this area is TeachersPayTeachers, a marketplace that facilitates the sharing and exchanging of lesson plans and other materials developed by teachers themselves. We’re also just starting to see how impactful gaming can be in an educational context. MangaHigh and Grockit are successfully delivering fun, competitive, game-based lessons that drive greater engagement and understanding.

Zoran Popovic, at University of Washington’s Center for Game Science, is taking this even further through some amazing work creating games that automatically adapt to each student’s unique needs based on their interactions with the computer. Many of these new tools and services have the added benefit of providing amazing visibility into how each individual student is progressing, and generating lots of useful data that teachers can use to improve their own effectiveness.
But how do most teachers figure out what’s available and right for them? There’s not yet a good answer to this question. Good technologies remain unused, and teachers spend too much of their own time and money. That’s why I’m launching a project this year to build an online service that helps educators easily discover and learn how to use these new tools and resources. I think there’s no limit to what a teacher with the right tools and information can do.  
Jeffrey R. Young at The Chronicle of Higher Education recently interviewed Bill Gates about education. Here’s an interesting portion of the interview and a video with Gates’ take on MOOCS:

Q. You have been interested in education for quite a while. I was looking back at your 1995 book, The Road Ahead, and you laid out a vision of education and how it could be transformed with technology. It seems like some of that vision is still only just emerging, so many years later. Did it take longer than you thought it would?

A. Oh sure. Education has not been changed. That is, institutional education, whether it’s K-12 or higher education, has not been substantially changed by the Internet. And we’ve seen that with other waves of technology. Where we had broadcast TV people thought would change things. We had early time-sharing computing—so-called CAI, computer-assisted instruction—where people could do these drills, and people thought that would change things. So it’s easy to say that people have been overoptimistic in the past. But I think this wave is quite different. I think it’s more fundamental. And we can say that individual education has changed. That is, for the highly-motivated student, the ability to go online and find lectures of various length—to see class materials—there’s a lot of people who are learning far better because of those materials. But it’s much harder to then take it for the broad set of students in the institutional framework and decide, OK, where is technology the best and where is the face-to-face the best. And they don’t have very good metrics of what is their value-added. If you try and compare two universities, you’ll find out a lot more about the inputs—this university has high SAT scores compared to this one. And it’s sort of the opposite of what you’d think. You’d think people would say, “We take people with low SATs and make them really good lawyers.” Instead they say, “We take people with very high SATs and we don’t really know what we create, but at least they’re smart when they show up here so maybe they still are when we’re done with them.” So it’s a field without a kind of clear metric that then you can experiment and see if you’re still continuing to achieve it.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Ed

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2013-02-15 16:00

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