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April 30, 2020

Charles Koch Foundation Awards WGU Labs Grant to Create College Innovation Network

WGU Labs seeks institutions to participate in the pilot year of a network to study technology-based improvements that boost outcomes related to performance and persistence

SALT LAKE CITY – WGU Labs, Inc. (WGU Labs), announced that it has been awarded funding from the Charles Koch Foundation to support the creation of the College Innovation Network (CIN). CIN will connect thought leaders from education institutions with educational technology (EdTech) innovators to advance students' academic, career, and life outcomes.

WGU Labs—a research and development hub and accelerator for scalable EdTech solutions—is leading an effort to identify network member institutions, with a goal of securing six institutions to form the founding members. Network member institutions must serve diverse students, including traditionally underrepresented student populations, through inclusive broad access policies. Through real-world pilot testing, these institutions—and the students that they serve—will have a voice in, and experience, the transformative potential of EdTech solutions firsthand.

"The major benefit of CIN is that partner institutions get access to WGU Labs' rigorous process of identifying student needs, matching them with the most appropriate EdTech solution and evaluating the potential impact to ensure that students benefit from the innovation," said Dr. Omid Fotuhi, WGU Labs' Director of Learning Innovations and leader of CIN.

Fotuhi is a motivation and human performance researcher and has been tasked with leading the network's initiatives. With a Ph.D. in psychology and extensive experience in training students, athletes and leaders on how to optimize their performance, he is focused on fostering collaboration among network institutions in order to facilitate a data-driven approach to effectively build new products and services for students in need of greater support.

"The goals of the newly created network are to democratize innovation in student achievement, accelerate speed to insight in the learning science ecosystem and scale EdTech that works," said Fotuhi. "The network will share the results and insights acquired through this project to allow for a scaled approach."

Both traditional and nontraditional educational institutions are encouraged to participate in CIN. The founding institutions will guide the network's priorities and success measures, and all members will participate in real-world pilot testing and open collaboration among each other.

"WGU Labs has the potential to spark significant innovation within the education space, serving learners with solutions tailored to their needs," said Charles Koch Foundation Executive Director Ryan Stowers. "Experimentation with digital tools and learning techniques has the potential to generate affordable and accessible education pathways that empower people to unleash their full potential."

Learn more about the types of institutions that can participate here.

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