The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said today it is putting $20 million into funding an online education and technology initiative to increase college graduation rates in the U.S.
The Foundation’s initiative, “Next Generation Learning Challenges,” has released the first series of requests for proposals (RFPs) for technology applications that can improve postsecondary education. This round of funding will total up to $20 million, including grants that range from $250,000 to $750,000. Applicants with top-rated proposals will receive funds to expand their programs and demonstrate effectiveness in serving larger numbers of students. Proposals are due November 19, 2010; winners are expected to be announced by March 31, 2011.
“American education has been the best in the world, but we’re falling below our own high standards of excellence for high school and college attainment,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“We’re living in a tremendous age of innovation. We should harness new technologies and innovation to help all students get the education they need to succeed.”
The initiative will fund RFPs approximately every six to 12 months. The RFP released today seeks proposals that address four specific challenges:
* Increasing the use of blended learning models, which combine face-to-face instruction with online learning activities.
*Deepening students’ learning and engagement through use of interactive applications, such as digital games, interactive video, simulations, and social media.
*Supporting the availability of high-quality open courseware, particularly for high-enrollment introductory classes like math, science, and English, which often have low rates of student success.
*Helping institutions, instructors, and students benefit from learning analytics, which can monitor student progress in real-time and customize proven supports and interventions.