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Leveraging Digital Learning to Improve Student Success at Scale

By Karen Vignare

APLU’s Personalized Learning Consortium (PLC), which works to help public universities adopt and scale technologies that improve student success, continues to lead pioneering work with a cohort of members and grantees. The grantees will soon complete their first full academic year scaling adaptive courseware, but data from even the first two semesters are promising.

The pattern of success is clear: intent to scale across all class sections, redesign of in-class activities based on data, active learning instructional techniques, and leveraging powerful technology like adaptive courseware helps advance course success.


The most recent data includes nearly 50,000 course enrollments with 75 percent of the cohort on track to exceed original scaling targets. The cohort comprises 30 courses across 13 disciplines leveraging 11 courseware tools. Not all universities find the transition to the active and adaptive design leads to immediate improvement, but some do. More often, institutions find that iteration and practice yield positive results.

The eight grantees in the cohort are: Arizona State University, Colorado State University, Georgia State University, Northern Arizona State University, Oregon State University, Portland State University, University of Louisville, and University of Mississippi.

Why are these methods, unlike some other effective instructional technology redesigns, likely to grow in coming years? Because most universities view the data provided to faculty in real-time as vital to ongoing improvement and these tools are actually less expensive for students than traditional textbooks. The approach helps improve outcomes, increase affordability, and bolster faculty knowledge through data to allow them to better design effective in-class activities. Taken together, this seems to be a winning combination. In fact, several of the participating universities believe they will redesign all of their core high enrollment/high impact courses – thereby designing a new academic experience for students taking foundation courses.
Karen Vignare is executive director of the APLU’s Personalized Learning Consortium.

  • Learning Technology
  • Student Success in Focus

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