The Open Learning Initiative

About the Project

This project is one of the 2010 WISE Awards finalists.

Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI) has combined theory and practice to create scientifically based online learning environments for a wide range of courses. It uses automated tutoring, virtual laboratories, simulations and frequent assessment and feedback to enact the kind of dynamic, flexible and responsive instruction that fosters robust learning. 

Solution and Impact

As students use the OLI environments, the system collects interaction-level data about how and what they are learning. This data is used both to inform the next iteration of the course design and to provide instructors with an unprecedented opportunity to stay in tune with many aspects of their students’ learning. In “blended learning” (OLI courses used with an instructor and class meetings), students prepare for each class with OLI modules, completing embedded assessments as they work through the material. The information generated by students’ work in OLI courses is used by faculty to provide adaptive responses to individual students and to tailor-made in-class lessons. 

To date, OLI has had users from 214 countries, over 18,000 student registrations for credit-bearing academic courses and well over 300,000 total users. Studies have shown that OLI courses taken online are as effective as traditional courses and that when OLI course materials are used in a blended mode, students can learn the same material in half the time while retaining the knowledge as well as, or better than, students in traditional courses. OLI is actively adapting existing courses, developing new courses and deploying OLI courses in US community colleges and state higher education systems.

April 26, 2010 (last update 12-22-2020)