Online Learning Consortium Gets Grant to Improve Student Achievement


The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) has announced that it will boost its efforts to accelerate the adoption of cutting-edge digital learning tools and software in education after a $2.5 million grant awarded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Through the grant, the OLC will focus on making student higher achievement for disadvantaged or underserved students possible through awareness raising on the research, pedagogy and best practices in post-secondary online learning, the Online Learning Consortium said.

Kathleen Susan Ives, CEO and executive director for the Online Learning Consortium, spoke of the urgent need for schools to know which digital tools work best in boosting student achievement and implement these in their classrooms:

“There is a need to provide a new lens into the classroom and new insights on the dynamics impacting the use of innovative learning solutions in addressing the barriers to student success,” she said.

With the grant, OLC will fund a new prize competition which aims to make educational organizations and educators understand and better assess the value digital courseware brings to the class such as games, apps, software, personalized content and other learning tools. Through the competition, participating institutions will create a pool of best practices that will further help fellow institutions adopt optimal learning tools in an effort to advance student achievement. The OLC will reward schools for exhibiting effective use of digital learning tools.

As Campus Technology’s Rhea Kelly notes, the OLC will help facilitate innovation, which is an essential prerequisite for helping low-income and disadvantaged students keep up with the academic success of economically privileged students.

Apart from the OLC prize competition, the organization will also expand its OLC Quality Scorecard by integrating it with a supplementary digital courseware scorecard. The OLC Quality Scorecard is an evaluation and improvement tool used by institutions across the world for evaluating digital programs. Now, the OLC Quality Scorecard will include an ancillary scorecard that will measure and evaluate digital courseware for their quality and positive impact on student achievement, and especially that of disadvantaged students.

The OLC started in 1992 as the Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C) and in 2014 was rebranded as the Online Learning Consortium with a mission to offer quality digital learning solutions to people, schools and corporations. So far more than $72 million has funded at least 346 projects in education and non-profit organizations.

The OLC’s mission is to make innovative digital learning tools part of college education and help institutions and faculty embrace and fully take advantage of the possibilities digital learning offers. The OLC says of its mission on its official website:

“OLC remains committed to helping institutions create high-quality educational experiences, improving the U.S./international field of online education, contributing to the creation of an educated workforce.”