Implementing Courseware in Higher Ed: 10 Resources to Help with the Stage after Selection

Written by: Jerry Smith

Academic leaders discovering and evaluating high-quality digital learning tools using CourseGateway need to plan for the stage that follows selection: implementing courseware. Unsuccessful deployments of digital learning stem from not budgeting enough time and attention to how the digital learning will be put in place, introduced, and used.

Some challenges that departments, programs, and individual instructors can encounter when implementing digital courseware for the first time are related to alignment with learning goals, collaboration with other operations, customization of course content, professional development for faculty, and making sense of data.

The most critical challenge may be accounting for differences in how students access and experience digital learning. Achieving the potential that courseware has for addressing equity gaps depends on an awareness of students’ varied experiences with digital learning. CourseGateway’s reviews use criteria that emphasize attributes that promote equitable outcomes for Black, Latino/Latina, and Indigenous students and students from low-income backgrounds. But those attributes matter only if the courseware that was selected is implemented effectively.

Below is a selection of 10 resources devoted to the critical courseware-implementation phase.


Strategies for Implementing Digital Learning Infrastructure to Support Equitable Outcomes

This report from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and Tyton Partners, in partnership with Every Learner Everywhere, outlines six keys for leaders who are adopting high-quality digital learning alongside equity-centered teaching practices. The report profiles institutions that are at different stages in digital learning implementation and are showing progress in equitable outcomes.

Adaptive Courseware Implementation Guide

This guide from Achieving the Dream, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and Intentional Futures, in partnership with Every Learner Everywhere, is for instructors who seek to use racial and socioeconomic equity and the student voice in the implementation of adaptive courseware. The guide is supplemented with an instructor’s workbook

A Guide for Implementing Adaptive Courseware: From Planning through Scaling

This Association of Public and Land-grant Universities study offers insight into how postsecondary institutions can utilize and scale adaptive courseware technology to improve students’ outcomes. The guide details six phases that colleges and universities should implement to launch courseware successfully.

Understanding by Design

This resource from the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching outlines the “backward design” framework and applies it to designing courses with online or remote elements. The backward design approach has instructors consider reasonable learning goals of a course as a first step (rather than starting with all the content that must be covered) and then developing assessments, projects, reading, and lessons by working backward from that target endpoint.


MIT: Digital Learning Toolkit

The MIT Digital Learning Toolkit is a collection of resources for educators and institutions seeking to incorporate digital learning practices into their teaching. The toolkit includes guides, case studies, and other resources on topics such as course design, active learning, online assessments, and technology integration. The resources are organized into categories, including design principles, strategies for engagement, and assessment techniques, and are accompanied by examples and case studies from real-world applications. The website also offers a blog and upcoming events calendar, as well as opportunities for educators to contribute their own resources and experiences.

Faculty Toolkit on Digital Inclusion

An important part of planning for courseware implementation is outlining how all students will be included in online and remote learning encounters. This resource from New York University integrates research in the fields of inclusive teaching, online teaching, and learning science in order to provide instructors with specific strategies they can incorporate into their teaching practice.


Course “Re" Design with Adaptive Learning

In this archived presentation from the 2021 REMOTE: The Connected Faculty Summit, foreign language faculty from the University of Central Florida share their experiences redesigning gateway courses. Instructors did away with the traditional textbooks and publisher courseware and used a platform that supported their use of open educational resources and original materials.

Using an Adaptive Active Model to Promote Student Success

In this archived presentation from 2020 REMOTE: The Connected Faculty Summit, Arizona State University biology instructor Susan Holecheck discusses how adaptive courseware works in practice. She discusses best practices, techniques, and tools for online teaching in higher education.

Case Studies

Adaptive Courseware: New Models to Support Student Learning

This report from Achieving the Dream summarizes the lessons learned from a set of case studies from seven institutions that participated in a pilot project using adaptive learning to address high failure rates in foundational courses, especially among minoritized, poverty-affected, and first-generation students. Faculty and staff used adaptive courseware in 25 courses across nine disciplines.

One Size Does Not Fit All: Adaptive Courseware in U.S. History Instruction

In this article from The American Historian, Denise E. Bates, a professor of leadership and interdisciplinary studies at Arizona State University, shares her experience of implementing adaptive courseware in two history survey courses. She finds that the adaptive courseware gives students an opportunity to learn on their own terms and at their own pace.

Discover and compare equity-centered courseware on CourseGateway