Postsecondary Success Notes | What “good” looks like in digital learning


As I share this update, the news is filled with still more stories of violence, hostility, and various forms of discrimination against Black people in our country. And it forces me to pause and reflect on our efforts to serve students of color and students from low-income backgrounds and how we can strengthen those efforts to continue chipping away at the systemic inequity that is keeping us from our full promise as a nation.

Promoting quality teaching and learning – especially for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds – must be at the heart of those efforts. We and our partners have been working and learning for years in this area, particularly the impact of online and hybrid learning models and the effects of adaptive courseware on student performance. That learning has informed the creation of tools for evaluating what “good” looks like in digital learning.

We are drawing on that experience to focus on two things in our current work:

  • Equity in access and outcomes. A more online world carries real risks for widening the “digital divide” and leaving more students behind. We’re working to help bridge that divide, building on what we’ve learned about equity in teaching and learning and focusing on policies that promote more equitable access to online learning (see New America/SHEEO partnership below).
  • Support for instructional design and delivery. We’ve invested in the development of high-quality instructional tools like adaptive courseware, but it’s just as important to connect faculty with knowledge and resources (see Every Learner Everywhere playbook below).

Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks about our response to emerging needs at this time.

Patrick Methvin

Quality Teaching and Learning: Providing Evidence and Resources to Promote Student Success

Colleges and universities were already expanding and enhancing their digital learning offerings prior to the onset of COVID-19, but the rapid move to remote instruction greatly increased demand for resources and support for both students and faculty. This demand will continue as institutions and faculty gear up for more online and hybrid programming in the fall – and beyond.

Our work in this area focuses on a combination of direct assistance, knowledge sharing, and policy development.

Technical Assistance and Resources:
Every Learner Everywhere (ELE), lead for the foundation’s Digital Learning Network, has developed a faculty-focused playbook that addresses immediate and more advanced needs related to online course design and delivery. ELE will also be expanding their technical assistance offerings to colleges and universities.

The Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas will deliver a virtual professional development series for math faculty at up to 200 institutions to enhance math instruction in a fully online environment.

Tyton Partners will build on existing resources for evaluating digital courseware products and connecting colleges and universities with resources and high-quality courseware providers.

Knowledge and Insight:
Digital Promise Global is conducting nationwide surveys of faculty and students to assess sentiment, needs, and challenges related to online learning, focusing on low-income students.

Policy Recommendations:
New America is partnering with the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) to convene an expert task force to develop recommendations for policymakers to address oversight, compliance, and consumer protection issues related to expanding online and hybrid program delivery.

REMOTE: The Connected Faculty Summit

On July 13 and 14, Arizona State University will be hosting a worldwide virtual summit for faculty and instructional leadership on practices, techniques, and tools to promote high-quality digital learning for today’s students. The summit is free of charge through the support of the foundation and other sponsors. Click here for additional information and registration!