Embracing Change: Reflections on the CourseGateway Initiative and Its Impact on EDUCAUSE

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As the CourseGateway initiative draws to a close, EDUCAUSE is dedicated to consolidating courseware selection into our existing evaluation and benchmarking offerings to help institutional decision-makers in both the discovery and the implementation phases of new technology deployment.

After three years of dedicated work, we are announcing the end of the CourseGateway initiative as we now focus on integrating the work into the main EDUCAUSE portfolio. This decision follows a comprehensive assessment of the evolving digital learning landscape and of the strategic direction of courseware in higher education. We are grateful to Andrea Jones-Davis and her team for what we have learned from the initiative, which has catalyzed the conversation and awareness about digital learning, equity, and courseware.

Several considerations factored into the decision to conclude CourseGateway. First was the significant market consolidation within the courseware industry. The more limited selection of vendors impacted the diversity and the availability of new courseware offerings entering the market. Additionally, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into educational platforms holds immense potential to transform higher education. Yet though AI-infused courseware and AI tutors introduce a new level of dynamism and innovation into the courseware marketplace, they also add a degree of uncertainty. A strategic reassessment of our approach was needed.

CourseGateway achieved numerous successes. It played a crucial role in raising awareness of equity considerations in digital learning and provided valuable insights into supporting and meeting the needs of individual faculty and of smaller and/or under-resourced institutions. More specifically, CourseGateway inspired a rigorous and relevant product review approach that incorporated multiple perspectives, including those of faculty, instructional designers, online learning leaders, accessibility experts, and technologists.

Where does EDUCAUSE go from here? CourseGateway has deepened our understanding of and commitment to equitable outcomes for all students. As we move forward, equity will remain a central focus of our work. This focus includes a long-term commitment to reinforcing the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion across the higher education technology sector.

In addition, CourseGateway has helped EDUCAUSE work toward our strategic priority to "influence the evolution of the higher education technology market to better serve institutions and learners." We will continue to apply the knowledge we've gained with CourseGateway to this strategic priority. Successful technology products depend on good technology solutions, but they also need to answer specific institutional needs. Institutions require a level of readiness to effectively implement the technology products and manage the change that new technologies impose on stakeholders.

The past three years have strengthened our resolve to expand our technology decision-support framework in support of our community members, including smaller and/or under-resourced institutions. Consolidating courseware selection into our existing evaluation and benchmarking offerings will help institutional decision-makers in both the discovery and the implementation phases of new technology deployment.

We extend to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation our gratitude for its support and partnership throughout this journey. While the Foundation will continue to invest in courseware, its commitment to advancing higher education and promoting equity has influenced the broader courseware market and the work of EDUCAUSE moving forward.

John O'Brien is President and CEO of EDUCAUSE.

© 2024 John O'Brien. The content of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.