Friday, November 16, 2012

Gates Foundation MOOC Grants

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Gates Foundation has made a number of strategic investments in a range of postsecondary areas, and these investments complement several existing work streams. Though Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have much to prove, the foundation is interested in their potential to make content and learning more accessible and affordable at web scale—at least for some students and some types of content.


On November 13th 2012, the foundation awarded 12 grants, totaling more than $3 million, in new investments in MOOCs. These grants include:

  • $895,484 to the American Council on Education to test the viability of MOOCs for college transfer credit and to establish a Presidents Innovation Lab to explore new business models in higher education
  • $268,920 to the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities to explore the viability of a consortium of two- and four-year colleges to collaborate on digital courseware development and usage, including MOOCs
  • $1,440,900 to Ithaka S+R to monitor, assess, and document lessons learned from the implementations of a range of MOOCs and MOOC platforms in partnership with the University of Maryland System
  • $550,000 in total to the following institutions ($50,000 per MOOC) to develop introductory and remedial level MOOCs. These institutions are winners selected from a Request for Proposals released in September (technology platform partner noted in parentheses):
  • Cuyahoga Community College to develop a Developmental Math MOOC (Blackboard)
  • Duke University to develop an English Composition I MOOC (Coursera)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology to develop three MOOCs: Psychology, English Composition I, and Physics (Coursera)
  • Michigan State University to develop a Foundations of Science MOOC (Desire2Learn)
  • Mt. San Jacinto College to develop a Developmental Writing MOOC (Coursera)
  • The Ohio State University to develop an English Composition II MOOC (Coursera)
  • University of Washington to develop a Political Science MOOC (Coursera)
  • University of Wisconsin – La Crosse [] to develop an Algebra MOOC (Desire2Learn)
  • Wake Technical Community College to develop a Developmental Math MOOC (Udacity)

The foundation also announced a pool of approximately $250,000 in research funds on November 12th that will be allocated in the coming months. Among the questions that will be addressed are:

  • For which students, disciplines, types of knowledge, and contexts are MOOCs more/less effective?
  • Which components drive impact for non-self-directed learners and what additional supports need to be added online or face-to-face?
  • What data captured from MOOCs is most informative and how might such data be best used for the advancement of learning?


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