Gates Foundation gives UT Arlington about $100,000 for online education conference

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently gave the University of Texas at Arlington a $97,200 grant to host a conference where educators will discuss the effectiveness of a new trend in online learning, the Star-Telegram reports.

Researchers from across the U.S., Canada and Australia will talk about their research on how massive open online courses — or MOOCs — can personalize learning and change the dynamics of traditional forms of education.

UT Arlington was selected to host MOOCs and Emerging Educational Models: Policy, Practice and Learning a Dec. 5-6 conference, in collaboration with the MOOC Research Initiative, which the foundation also funded, at Athabasca University in Canada.…Read More

In higher ed, as the Gates Foundations’ power grows, grumbles do too

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the most active nonprofit players in higher education — to the tune of $472 million, Gigaom reports. … Given the scope of its activity and funding, it’s hard for the foundation to not be a target for critics. And it’s been the subject of educational debate in the past: Education historian Diane Ravitch has been among its most vocal detractors of its pro-privatization efforts in K-12 education and, earlier this spring, the Gates Foundation rankled some parents with its new initiative to aggregate mounds of student data with the goal of personalizing learning. … For example, some critics worry that a focus on measurability and experiences delivered via technology will help prepare students for short-term employability but not necessarily long-term social mobility.

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Gates Foundation supports college readiness apps

More than half of community college students require a remedial class.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is awarding upwards of $100,000 to developers who propose apps and online tools that help high school students prepare for college, fund their schooling, and complete the sometimes circuitous application process.

The College Knowledge Challenge started Sept. 27 at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., where 100 developers gathered for a “hack-a-thon”–an effort to create useful technologies aimed at better preparing incoming college students as the need for remedial classes continues to rise across the U.S.

Anyone can submit a proposal to the Gates Foundation through the organization’s website. Winners of the $2.5 million grant competition will be announced in January, according to the foundation.…Read More

University research will evaluate physical data to gauge teacher effectiveness

GSR technology could give an advantage to 'tyrannical' teachers, Ravitch says.

A student’s physical reaction to a classroom lesson soon could be used to judge how successful—or unsuccessful—an educator is in keeping students engaged.

Researchers and Clemson University received a nearly $500,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in November to study Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) bracelets, which house sensors that measure a student’s physical reaction to learning—such as increased sweating—and uses the data as a way to grade an educator’s performance.

Wireless sensors produce readouts showing whether students are alert, anxious, bored, or excited in the classroom, and as Clemson researchers determine the reliability of this experimental technological gauge, many in education are skeptical of the GSR bracelets as a mainstream classroom tool.…Read More

Model online school gets big gift from Gates Foundation

WGU Indiana students graduate in an average of two and a half years.

An expanding online university that allows students to move through coursework based on competency, not just class credits, received a $4.5 million grant that will be used to bolster its web-based programs in Indiana, Washington state, and Texas.

Western Governors University (WGU), a Utah-based nonprofit online school formed in 1999 with about 20,000 students nationwide, announced Aug. 29 that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had awarded the grant in support of the university’s newest statewide programs.

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Feds grant $20 million to expand college access

More than 1,700 applicants vied for ED's i3 grants.
More than 1,700 applicants vied for ED's Investing in Innovation grants.

Students in Pennsylvania and Kentucky will get an extra dose of academic advising and career counseling—aided by educational technology—after the U.S. Department of Education (ED) gave $20 million to an organization aiming to boost college access among first-generation, minority, and low-income students.

The $20 million grant to the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, will be matched with a $4 million grant from the GE Foundation that will target greater college access for low-income students in Louisville, Ky., and Erie, Pa.

The federal grant was made through the Investing in Innovation program, which doled out more than $600 million in September to colleges, universities, nonprofits, and school districts nationwide. Investing in Innovation was created in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.…Read More