Examining the effect of digital learning on higher education

UMSI Research Professor Stephanie Teasley is joining a larger University of Texas-Arlington study that seeks to understand how digital learning can impact and increase access to higher education.

Start date: 1/1/2015
End date: 8/16/2016

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The study will examine a number of topics in digital learning, including competency-based learning, learning analytics, global growth of higher education, massive open online courses (MOOCs), personalization and adaptation, and credential and accreditation through digital programs. 

Funding from the Bill & Melinda gates Foundation helped to establish UT Arlington’s Digital Learning Research Network (dLRN), which connects and supports participating researchers from U-M, UT Arlington, Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford University, Teachers College Columbia University, the Smithsonian Institution, and other research institutions. 

The aim of the grant is to close the gap between digital learning research and its impact on practice, as well as to expand the breadth of research being conducted. Research from the dLRN initiative will benefit universities who are making the transition to digital learning, as well as learners from groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education.  

Teasley will be leading UMSI’s portion of the project, which is supported by a $100,000 subcontract of the larger $1.6 million award issued to UT Arlington by the Gates Foundation. The grant is part of the Gates Foundation’s Postsecondary Success Strategy, which aims to increase the number of young adults who complete postsecondary education with a strategy calls for more personalization targeted to their needs and goals. 

Christopher Brooks, research fellow and investigator at UMSI, will work with Teasley on the project.

Research conducted at UMSI will seek to design interventions that can improve student outcomes and analyze project data in order to identify critical challenges for at-risk learners. 

The scope of this research will help to address barriers to digital learning and outline the conditions needed for all learners to be successful participants in degree attainment. With universities and colleges across the United States increasingly moving their teaching and learning practices into digital environments, the transition from physical to digital learning settings could have significant implications on the cost, quality, and equity of higher education opportunities.


Examining the effect of digital learning effect on higher education, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: $100,000 (subcontract of larger $1.6 million award given to University of Texas-Arlington)


From poverty to health, to education, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s areas of focus offer the opportunity to dramatically improve the quality of life for billions of people. The Foundation builds partnerships that bring together resources, expertise, and vision—working with the best organizations around the globe to identify issues, find answers, and drive change.