Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Postsecondary Success

June 30, 2020

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