Glossary of Terms


The process of designing, creating, researching, and selling digital learning products to consider the following:


Shared understanding and use of equity-minded language is critically important to the success of implementing digital learning products. Language describes and shapes the ways digital learning products are considered, are understood, and operationalize cultural values and norms.


Deep understanding of the lived experiences and life contexts students bring to their education journeys is critical to the design and implementation of culturally responsive, relevant, and equitable pedagogy and practice for digital learning products. Without operationalizing this knowledge, there is considerable risk that the design of teaching, learning, and student support strategies will fail to recognize and/or misunderstand students’ range of personal and cultural assets and educational needs.


It is critical that research and evaluation practices effectively operationalize equity-minded principles.


The digital learning product has robustly accessible functionality, meeting technical standards (i.e. WCAG), with up-to-date and detailed conformance documentation, and exhibits mature practices, processes, and commitments.

Adaptive Learning

Adaptive learning is a methodology for teaching and learning that strives to personalize lessons, readings, practice activities, and assessments for individual students based on their current skills and performance. (Every Learner Everywhere, 2021)


Instructional content that is scoped and sequenced to support the delivery of an entire course through software built for educational purposes.

Digital Learning Products

Software that facilitates teaching and learning (e.g., courseware, instructional tools).

DFWI Rates

The rate at which students are receiving a D or F grade, Withdrawing, or being recorded as Incomplete.

DFWI rates for gateway courses range from:

  • 15% at public research institutions
  • to 30-40% at comprehensive universities
  • and 50-60% at community colleges.

There are also significant disparities in DFWI rates by race and Pell Grant status.


Existence and quality of research that supports a product's effectiveness in improving student learning outcomes.


Existence and quality of product attributes that promote equitable outcomes for African American/Black, LatinX, Indigenous/Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander and Southeast Asian, and Alaskan Native students, poverty-affected students, and first-generation students.


Existence and quality of product attributes that relate to instructional design and user experience.

Gateway Courses

Foundational, credit-bearing, lower-division courses, for which large numbers of students are at risk of failure and which accordingly stand as “gatekeepers” to further study and degree completion. (The Gardner Institute)

Depending on the major, common examples of supported disciplines include Anatomy or introductory courses in Business, Chemistry, and Psychology. (Every Learner Everywhere)

Instructional Tools

Supplementary digital tools that enhance learning through incorporating social learning, classroom engagement, assessment, and/or analytics.

Systems Compatibility

Technical components that indicate systems compatibility, ease of implementation, and data management capabilities.