The Gates Foundation Personalized Learning Strategies

Investing in Personalized Learning Strategies to Improve College Student Outcomes

By Jason Palmer, Deputy Director Postsecondary Success

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

My passion for education has been a constant throughout my life, starting with my father, who was principal at my high school in upstate New York, and later the superintendent of Albany Public Schools. My dad instilled in me a bedrock belief in the power of education to transform lives, and he helped me understand that every student deserves personalized feedback to succeed.

Now, in the 21st century, we can use technology to personalize education in ways that were impossible just 30 years ago. Personalized learning has the potential to significantly improve student outcomes and graduation rates—the core mission of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Postsecondary Success strategy. That’s why we work with partners whose innovations enable all students—not just those who can attend the most elite, expensive colleges—to get the best, most personalized education at a reasonable price, using technologies that empower outstanding teaching and learning.

Some of the most promising educational technologies this decade are digital courseware, integrated planning and advising systems (IPAS), and online and blended learning programs, where colleges and universities are innovating around teaching, learning, and student services in new ways, using digital and hybrid models to drive better student outcomes.

Through our investments at the foundation, we are supporting education technology entrepreneurs and higher education leaders who are pioneering innovative, creative solutions to improve student outcomes, increase student completion, and reduce costs.

Every year, the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference brings together thousands of the leaders in educational technology, including many foundation partners, to share their experiences and lessons learned. At the EDUCAUSE conference this year, which begins this coming Monday, the foundation will be hosting a number of sessions, including Adaptive Learning and the Quest to Improve Undergraduate Education. With three providers, two instructional designers, and a team of ‘learning engineers’ from UC Davis presenting, this session will highlight recent progress in the implementation of adaptive learning approaches from colleges and universities participating in the foundation’s Adaptive Learning Market Acceleration Program.

We’ve made significant strides in personalized learning since my father first brought computers to my school in 1984. Personalized learning is no longer just a concept; it’s happening throughout higher education, with more than seven million students taking online or blended courses, according to Babson Survey Research Group. However, our work at the foundation has just begun. We must continue to support the valuable efforts being made by colleges, universities and technology providers, to help all students pursue their dreams, lead healthy and productive lives, contribute to our national well-being, and attain a college degree.



Learn more about the educational technologies and innnovations Jason introduces with these posts:



Jason Palmer, Deputy Director, Postsecondary Success leads the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's efforts in online and blended learning solutions, digital courseware, student coaching and advising, competency-based learning, seamless credit transfer, and employer pathways. 


I thought that you might be interested in reading this posting... Stephen Downes: ‘This is the next era of learning’ — from Excerpts: This year we are building on work we have undertaken over the last few years to develop and deploy the next generation of learning technologies, which we are calling ‘learning and performance support systems’. This is the outcome of an internal prototype called Plearn – ‘Personal Learning Environment and Research Network’ – and develops the idea of learning support based on personal and individual needs. This is not simply ‘personalised’ learning, it is a step beyond that. Rather than offering a customised version of some generic offering, we propose to enable each learner to develop their own custom programme from the ground up. Our application, which launches in a limited beta September 30, provides individual learners with the tools and support necessary to access learning from any number of providers – not just educational institutions, but also their friends and mentors, their current and future employers, community and social programmes, and much more. Built on current and evolving learning technology standards, it provides access to MOOCs, to traditional learning management systems, to stand-alone courses and software, and even to the world of the Internet of things. At the core of LPSS is a system we call the ‘personal learning record’ (PLR). A person’s LPSS system keeps track of everything related to learning – exercises followed, tests taken, games and simulations attempted, work read – and stores that all in a single location. In this way, unlike a learning management system, it combines data from the learning environment, the work environment and even the social environment, thus enabling adaptive learning software to close the loop between learning and performance. The PLR is also combined with a learner’s personal library and their personal e-portfolio, and links to credentials offered by and stored by learning institutions, employers, and social network activities, such as badges.

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