Regular readers know that we try to be as transparent as we can about the funding sources of our business, particularly when those sources are from organizations that we write about. This is an update about our relationship with a long-time funding organization: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).
We have been fortunate enough to receive a few grants from the foundation over the last few years. These grants were to fund coverage of digital education in general and courseware in particular. To their credit, the foundation respected our editorial independence over the years. Further, their support enabled us to create content that we hope will have enduring value. Here are a few examples:
- Our piece defining the value of "personalized learning" in EDUCAUSE Review
- Our analysis of the nuances behind SRI's adaptive learning report in The Chronicle of Higher Education
- Our animated explainers on various personalized learning concepts, like this one on memory-based adaptive learning:
- Our case studies delving into the details of adaptive and personalized learning, like this one on the value of technology to make student activity more visible:
From a mission perspective, we share the foundation's aspirations of providing everyone with a quality education and, in particular, of closing achievement gaps. But we are rethinking how we can be most effective at contributing to the achievement of those aspirations. In part through the foundation's grants and our broader participation in the network of grantees, we have learned some lessons about what does and doesn't work in terms of promoting effective practices. Over time, we have developed our own theory of change.
We have decided to put our money where our mouth is and form the Empirical Educator Project to test our theory. As a consequence of our commitment to and focus on this new effort, we have decided not to pursue another round of funding from BMGF for continued within the foundation's current framework. Making this decision also enables us to advance another of our goals, which is to decrease our financial dependence on any particular influencer in the market, particularly when it comes to direct funding of our reporting and analysis.
We wish the foundation staff and grantee network the best of luck in their pursuit of our mutual goals and hope to find ways in which we can collaborate with them in other capacities over time as we work toward our mutual aspirations for education.