Gates Foundation Launches Fund for Education Technology

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a $20 million round of funding Monday for technology projects that can help boost the number of students who finish college.

The Microsoft founder has long sought to bring business-style competition to philanthropy. This time, his foundation is tackling college education, launching a competition called the Next Generation Learning Challenges that will give grants of $250,000 to $750,000 for education technology that helps students get into college and then graduate.

“We’re living in a tremendous age of innovation,” Gates said in a statement. “We should harness new technologies and innovation to help all students get the education they need to succeed.”

The foundation is looking for proposals that deal with things like online learning and interactive applications like digital games, interactive video and social media. Open courseware that makes basic classes available to more people online is another part of the push, as are analytics that can help teachers quickly monitor student progress.

The round of funding announced Monday is for as much as $20 million, and other funding rounds will come every six to 12 months, the foundation said in a statement. Proposals for this round of funding are due by Nov. 19, and winners will be announced next March.

UPDATE: In a conference call, Gates said the foundation was focusing on tools that could be used in colleges this year and that next year it will turn to K-12 education. But it’s “not a black-and-white dividing line” between high school education and college, he said, pointing out that basic math and reading classes are a “huge challenge” for community colleges and four-year schools.

He also said the foundation holding a competition in an effort to attract developers it wouldn’t have been able to find otherwise, particularly small groups that might not get attention. “The overall money in education is gigantic compared to us,” he said, adding that the “main role we play is a catalytic role” in finding new tools for education.

Fuente: The Wall Street Journal
Publicada: 11 de Octubre 2010

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