Often, required courses prove challenging for first-year students. The Next Generation Courseware Challenge Program (NGCC) aimed to reduce those challenges by improving the quality of learning experiences through digital courseware. Courseware is instructional content that is designed to deliver an entire course through purpose-built software. It uses assessment to guide personalization of instruction and can be used in a variety of learning environments to provide high quality, effective education at a reasonable price.
The Gates Foundation’s three-year, $20+ million grant program aimed to spur a cadre of digital learning providers, already innovators in the field, to up their game even further by developing next-generation affordable courseware that would more effectively help low-income and disadvantaged learners succeed in high-enrollment general education and undergraduate college courses.
The challenge was for courseware to surpass available products in terms of quality, price, scalability, and adaptability. The overarching goal was to improve the postsecondary success of more than 1 million low-income students before 2018.
Intentional Futures (iF) was one of three organizations participating in the grant as a technical assistance provider. Our role was to offer improvements to products from Acrobatiq, Smart Sparrow, Lumen Learning, and Rice University OpenStax based on rigorous research into user experience. Our intent was to reveal new insights about student experiences for these companies so that their products would do a better job of serving low-income, first-generation and students of color.