Gates, Hewlett, iNACOL partner for NextGen Learning

It’s good to see a couple foundations thinking about new tools and schools and partnering with the online learning folks. Here’s a letter from Susan Patrick to her members.
Dear iNACOL Members,
I’m pleased to announce that the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to launch a new and exciting effort today to boost the college readiness and college graduation rates of Americans everywhere, and we’d like to invite you to help.
The project, the Next Gen Learning Challenges, will provide grants to innovators, build evidence of what works, and foster an engaged community of professionals committed to helping students and young adults prepare for college and successfully complete their postsecondary educations. We believe that this work complements and supports our work in next generation learning models.
Today it is nearly impossible to reach the middle class, and stay there, with only a high school diploma. Yet by age 30, fewer than half of all Americans have earned the college degrees that deliver good wage jobs and promising career options. We believe getting more Americans into and through college is one of the most important challenges facing our country.
We know there are many promising solutions in the field and innovative minds working on ways to dramatically improve student success. We want to listen and learn from these experts – such as you – as we shape and define our venture. We’re launching this effort with a six week “Request for Comments” period during which we would like you to share your knowledge and to comment on these issues as we define and finalize the first phase of the program.
Over the next several weeks, we hope you will join the conversation on these challenges:

  • Visit the Next Gen Learning Challenges website at to learn about college readiness and completion in the United States
  • Contribute research, resources, and perspectives on the four challenges
  • Contribute ideas for future challenges, the next of which will focus on secondary education
  • Engage in discussion forums targeting key questions
  • Explore the challenges with your colleagues through workshops

Partners include likeminded membership organizations across K-12 and higher education and other funders to shape this initiative. This list includes the Gates Foundation, EDUCAUSE, the League for Innovation in the Community College, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. We would like you to join us in this effort.
We believe that technology can be a key tool for making learning more flexible, engaging, and affordable―important elements in helping today’s high school and college students achieve academic success.   Information technology has transformed work, life, and play. We must use its power to transform education, particularly for those who need it most.
The Next Gen Learning Challenges will open later this summer, with the first wave focusing primarily on higher education and soliciting grant proposals for:
·         Deploying open core courseware
·         Deepening learner engagement through interactive, online technologies
·         Scaling blended learning
·         Mobilizing learning analytics
We want to harness the brainpower of entrepreneurs, technologists, educators, higher education leaders, business leaders, and students in a collaborative way to tackle this issue. We would be delighted if you would join us in this effort.
Please visit the Next Gen Learning Challenges website at to learn more.
Susan Patrick
President & CEO, iNACOL

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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