Foundation Center & Bridge
Advancing Knowledge About Philanthropy
Foundation Center offers research, education, and training programs to people everywhere who want to change the world through philanthropy. Its website and five library/learning centers in New York City, Atlanta, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Washington, DC—as well as 450 Funding Information Network locations worldwide—provide access to information resources and educational programs for thousands of people every day. This includes free and low-fee online courses and tutorials that teach learners how to research potential funding sources, write grant proposals, and more.
Recognizing the potential for growth in online learning, especially for international learners, Foundation Center set out to overhaul its e-learning program. In 2013, it consulted e-learning experts from Fielding Graduate University who recommended upgrading to a new learning platform that could provide:
- Mobile access and potential for social learning
- Easy course creation and user management
- A clean, intuitive interface
According to Foundation Center Instructional Design Manager Caroline Herbert, the Center’s legacy learning platform was “frozen in time.” It was so complicated that after 11 years of use, Center staff were unable to update course content or access any but the most basic user data.
In order to better serve users with an expanded online curriculum—while also increasing online course revenue—Foundation Center needed a modern, easy-to-use learning platform. For Herbert, this meant “a low learning curve for course designers as well as users.”
Based on specific recommendations from e-learning consultants, as well as affordability, Foundation Center chose Bridge in 2015. To ensure a smooth transition for users, the Center upgraded to the Bridge Premium Implementation Package, which provides on-site consulting, planning, training, and adoption services.
Following the on-site visit by Bridge consultants, Center staff were equipped with a detailed project plan to roll out Bridge in only seven weeks.
“Having Bridge representatives on-site for four days was invaluable,” said Herbert. “We were really able to fast-track our learning curve around Bridge, and they brought up issues and raised questions about our processes that may have never occurred to us. Most importantly, their presence generated buzz throughout the organization and gave our department and this project more visibility.”
In addition to making it easy for Foundation Center course designers to create, update, and edit multimedia-rich courses, Bridge also provides access to robust data about their learners, including user progress, completion rates, scores, and time spent in a course.
Since its initial Bridge launch, Foundation Center has offered two free and one fee-based course on the platform. So far, enrollment in both courses has increased and staff have received fewer user complaints and requests for help. According to Herbert, these initial results put Foundation Center on track to meet its goals for increased users and revenue.
In 2016, the Center will begin adding new courses to its online curriculum. Additionally, Herbert said she hopes to begin experimenting with blended courses, as well as opportunities for synchronous, collaborative learning.