Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Next Generation Learning Challenges?

Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) is a unique collaboration among philanthropic foundations, educators, innovators, and technologists. We're focused on addressing the barriers to educational innovation by tapping the potential of technology to improve college readiness and completion, particularly for low-income young adults. This goal requires the fundamental transformation of education practices, policies, and structures; incremental change will not suffice.

NGLC has awarded grants in four areas: K-12 Breakthrough Models, Higher Ed Breakthrough Models, K-12 Tech Innovation, and Higher Ed Tech Innovation. In addition to grants, NGLC seeks to spark dialogue, build a community of innovation, and accelerate the adoption of solutions that work through resources, online tools, and EDUCAUSE Institute programs designed to catalyze new ideas and foster solutions that span institutions and accelerate student success.

2. What is "next generation learning?"
From a student's perspective, next generation learning is…

  • Personalized to the ways I learn best
  • Flexible so that I can try different ways to learn
  • Interactive and engaging so that I participate in the learning
  • Relevant to the life I'd like to lead
  • Organized around my own progress against goals I understand
  • Constantly informed by different ways of demonstrating and measuring my progress
  • Collaborative with teachers and peers, unlimited by proximity
  • Agile and supportive when I need extra help
  • Challenging but achievable, with opportunities to become expert in an area of interest
  • Available to me as much as it is to every other student

Next generation learning will take root more broadly than it is today when we focus on six dimensions—define, measure, design, implement, enable, scale. Only then will next generation learning help more students complete high school and college, at a reasonable cost. See our Pathway to Possibility white paper to learn more about NGLC's perspective on next generation learning.

3. How is Next Generation Learning Challenges unique?

NGLC focuses on technology-enabled solutions to support personalized learning and improve outcomes for students in both K-12 and higher education. In its first waves of investment, NGLC focused on scaling proven solutions to wider adoption. In recent work, the initiative has sought to develop whole school and degree program breakthrough models.

4. Specifically, what does NGLC hope to accomplish?

Next Generation Learning Challenges seeks to dramatically improve college readiness and completion in the United States. NGLC will accomplish this by identifying proven and emerging technology-enabled solutions, strategies, and new models for K-12 and higher education. While the need is greatest among low-income young adults, these solutions should be applicable to all institutions and students. NGLC spans K-12 and higher education because issues of college readiness and completion are interconnected.

5. How is NGLC funded?

Grants, programs, and the operation of NGLC are supported through funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. NGLC has also received financial support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

6. Is this program only about technology?

No. Technology is an important tool that has the potential to increase student achievement through personalized models of teaching that deepen learning and engagement, as well as lower costs. We must use the power of technology to transform education, particularly for those who need it most. Next Generation Learning Challenges will harness this potential by identifying and expanding effective technology-enabled learning solutions to reach more students, with the goal of improving college readiness and completion. However, NGLC understands that technology itself is not the solution. We are committed to seeking innovative working models which harness active pedagogies and deliver results in deeper learning outcomes, regardless of whether or how they use technology. We're not pursuing any one kind of hardware, software, or online solution. NGLC's focus is on effectiveness rather than a specific technology.

7. What are the primary components of the program?

Next Generation Learning Challenges is structured to provide investment capital, create evidence and communities of innovators, and accelerate adoption. Grants provide investment capital for advancing technology-enabled solutions and innovative new models for educational delivery. However, it is imperative that the community also develop and share evidence on which others can build. Thus, evaluation of individual projects as well as of the overall program are part of NGLC. Likewise, NGLC seeks to accelerate adoption of effective models by engaging individuals, disciplines, and institutions in dialogue, planning, and implementation.

8. Who will own the content created by NGLC, and how will that content be shared?

All content contributed to NGLC—from website postings to information generated by grantees—will be available to the community under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license, unless otherwise noted. This open license allows community-generated content to move in and out of the site with ease. Grantees are encouraged to make other supporting technology available under open-source licenses.

9. What educational levels does NGLC focus on?

Because NGLC is focused on college readiness as well as completion, secondary and postsecondary education (grades 6-16) are the focus of our work. In the Regional Funds for Breakthrough Schools effort, we also support new learning models in grades K-5. Although the institutional, systems, and policy context differs and the age of the learners varies, the problems facing students and educators in K-12 and higher education are similar. NGLC has observed similarities in some of the obstacles and the solutions to implementing next generation learning as well; there is much to learn from efforts in both systems of education.


1. Why is EDUCAUSE involved in Next Generation Learning Challenges?

Advancing student success, often defined as "college completion," is core to higher education's mission. College readiness, student support, engaging learning environments, and programs targeting student persistence all play central roles in student success. NGLC enables EDUCAUSE, as a national leader in groundbreaking educational technology innovation, to reinforce and promote the centrality of IT to the evolution of higher education and improved student success. EDUCAUSE members have a unique role to play, as they are the source of much of the IT innovation that NGLC seeks to advance in order to achieve its goals.

While EDUCAUSE encourages, supports, and facilitates the sharing of member innovations and solutions, NGLC goes further—it seeks breakthroughs: dramatically, not marginally, improved student outcomes through fundamentally, not incrementally, redesigned learning experiences for students. And it attempts to foster the implementation of solutions on a large scale. Increasing the adoption of solutions to address our nation's college readiness and completion challenges requires alliances across institutions, associations, foundations, and corporations. EDUCAUSE and NGLC provide an essential platform for building those collaborations.

2. Where does NGLC fit with existing EDUCAUSE programs such as the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI)?

EDUCAUSE uses the challenges, innovations, and evidence surfaced by NGLC to enrich the existing programs, conferences, and information resources available to our community. ELI has long fostered the creation and dissemination of ideas, innovations, and solutions that have significantly contributed to our understanding of learners, learning principles and practices, and learning technologies. The work of ELI members has had positive results on many campuses. ELI and NGLC staff work closely together to advance our community's understanding of postsecondary teaching and learning, and the role technology can play to support faculty and improve outcomes for students. ELI members are often among the first to learn from the content and knowledge generated through NGLC grants and programs.

3. Who oversees NGLC?

Overall responsibility for NGLC lies with EDUCAUSE President and CEO Diana Oblinger. NGLC is part of EDUCAUSE's Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development (TLPD) portfolio which is led by Vice President Julie Little. NGLC staff include a deputy director, program officers, directors for model development and adoption, knowledge management officers, a program coordinator, and marketing staff.

4. What is the relationship between EDUCAUSE and the other NGLC founding partners?

EDUCAUSE serves as the lead organization for NGLC, administering the program and facilitating community engagement. Founding partners include the League for Innovation in the Community College, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). These founding partners have contributed to NGLC through a range of activities, including serving on an executive committee, making grant selections, outreach to specific communities, and ensuring that NGLC goals are met. Additional partners have joined NGLC's efforts over time, and are listed at

5. If I'm not an EDUCAUSE member, can I still participate?

Participation in NGLC is not limited to EDUCAUSE members. NGLC invites all voices to the conversation. We believe we can address these challenges only if we engage philanthropists, educators, innovators, technologists, government, corporations, and the public. For more information, join our mailing list.