NLU’s Pathways Wins Prestigious National Award for Digital Learning The Online Learning Consortium honored NLU with its Digital Learning Innovation Award


National Louis University has earned the 2017 Digital Learning Innovation Award (#DLIAward), for its Pathways at NLU initiative. The Online Learning Consortium, a collaborative community of educators dedicated to promoting quality digital learning, selected NLU and two other institutions, as well as 10 faculty-led teams, to receive the award from among 60 submissions from around the nation.

The Pathways team was honored for advancing undergraduate student success through the adoption of digital courseware.

Pathways employs adaptive courseware

Stephanie Poczos, left, associate dean of General Education and Pathways, and Aarti Dhupelia, vice president of strategic initiatives, accepted the Digital Learning Innovation award on Nov. 16, 2017.

Pathways at NLU offers a rigorous, professionally-focused, four-year bachelor’s degree program for $10,000 per year, reducible to zero with federal and state financial grants for students with need. Pathways uses personalized instruction, success coaches and other tools to nurture first-generation, low-income students through college and to career readiness.

Undergirding the program is curriculum grounded in adaptive learning software, which serves as an online textbook and enables faculty to tailor instruction for students who arrive with varying levels of prior academic achievement. The platform continuously adapts content to each student, thus personalizing the learning experience  and supporting learning mastery.

Applications for Pathways are surging

Applications for Pathways at NLU have surged 1,500 percent since its Fall 2015 launch. Even more encouraging are Pathways’ retention rate (75% of students continued from Year 1 to Year 2, surpassing local and national benchmarks) and rising enrollment (85 students in 2015-16, 390 in 2016-17, and nearly 800 in 2017-18).

“We are thrilled that Pathways at NLU, which we believe is the first in the nation to assemble all of its high-tech and high-touch innovations into one program to empower underserved youth in college and careers, has received this selective and prestigious award from the Online Learning Consortium,” said Nivine Megahed, Ph.D., NLU president.

OLC honors models others can emulate

“The mission of the OLC DLIAwards is to discover student-centered active learning solutions that advance the world of digital learning for all students,” said Kathleen Ives, D.M., CEO and executive director of the Online Learning Consortium. “The awarded projects in this year’s competition truly support this mission and serve as valuable models that other institutions can emulate as they embark on their own digital courseware initiatives.”

The 2017 DLIAwards were presented to honorees on Nov. 16, by Stacey VanderHeiden Güney, Director of the Digital Learning Solution Network, during the OLC Accelerate conference, in Orlando.

The Online Learning Consortium determined the award winners by two rounds of review, first by a review team of institutional-level and higher education organization-level reviewers, who narrowed the field of submissions for final review by a national panel of judges.

Details about each of the 2017 OLC DLIAward honorees can be found here.

About the Digital Learning Innovation Awards

The Online Learning Consortium’s Digital Learning Innovation Award competition recognizes exemplary faculty-led teams and institutions for advancing student success through the adoption of digital courseware. The award program is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Postsecondary Success Program.