I am at the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) conference in Orlando. Yesterday was mostly business meetings. Nine of us associated with OLC went out to dinner last night. One of my colleagues and I engaged in a discussion about foundation funding for research on instructional technology and especially online learning. I mentioned that Inside Higher Education had published an article last week that cites several of us associated with OLC. The full article is available online at: https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2018/11/07/research-digital-learning-faces-uncertain-future-funding-sources
The reporter for Inside Higher Education, Mark Lieberman spoke with me and the following from the article reflects some of our discussion.
“Digital learning research got an aggressive kick start in the early ’90s from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Researchers working today talk in glowing terms about the Foundation’s interest in funding digital learning initiatives that would later serve as test cases for new formats and modalities.
But when the Foundation’s longtime president, Ralph Gomory, stepped down in 2007, the organization’s focus eventually shifted, ceding ground to organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which see education innovation as part of a larger effort to drive broad societal transformation.
Those groups’ pockets are deep but not infinite. And they’re not always on the same page with academics. Anthony Picciano, a professor in the School of Education at Hunter College and at the City University of New York Graduate School’s Ph.D. program in urban education, said he’s recently shied away from working with foundations like Gates, as well as technology companies including publishers, because he often finds that their goals aren’t in line with his ambitions.”