News

Davidson, edX and College Board Launch Free, Online Modules to Enhance Mastery in AP Courses

Robert Morse Physics Demo
AP Physics instructor and assistant course editor Robert Morse conducts a physics demonstration.

On Wednesday Davidson College, edX and the College Board launched Davidson Next, a free, data-driven, blended learning initiative that supplements Advanced Placement (AP) teaching and learning in AP Calculus (AB/BC), AP Physics (1&2) and AP Macroeconomics with online, self-paced, AP-aligned and -approved modules. The module topics, which include the most difficult concepts in each of the three disciplines based on proprietary College Board data, will be available for free to teachers and students around the globe on the edX platform.

"We know that online AP courses have long been available to students who lack access to an AP teacher, but many students-including underserved and under-represented students-struggle to complete such college-level coursework on their own," College President Carol Quillen said. "This project helps to make equal educational opportunity real for all students. I applaud my Davidson colleagues and our partners–edX, the College Board, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools–for their leadership in helping to develop a blended learning initiative that is data-driven, scalable, and accessible to a much wider audience than we normally serve."

"We are honored to partner with Davidson College and College Board to offer these new AP modules on edx.org," said Anant Agarwal, edX CEO and MIT professor. "Leveraging the power of MOOCs, students and teachers around the world will be able to access this content to both prepare for higher education and to supplement existing classroom material."

Data-driven approach

National data show that many students struggle to complete independent, college-level coursework, creating strong demand for innovative approaches to help students learn and master the most challenging AP material and concepts. In addition, growing evidence indicates that combining online and face-to-face instruction to create a blended learning format is more effective than either approach on its own.

Developed with the data in mind, the Davidson Next modules allow students to remain engaged in their classrooms, while honing their digital skills in content-specific units. The modules also benefit students who are working independently, either as supplements to students' online courses or as extra practice.

The modules include high-quality video segments that address common misconceptions students have about the subject matter. Interactive activities, simulations and innovative questions allow students to learn in "digital mode," while still preparing them for the written exam.

"The College Board is pleased to partner with Davidson College and edX on this initiative," said Trevor Packer, senior vice president and head of AP at the College Board. "This platform underscores the College Board's commitment to expanding educational access and ensuring that more under-represented students continue to enroll and succeed in AP courses."

Content Development

Since the Davidson Next collaboration was announced in December 2013, four Davidson College faculty members, with more than 80 years of combined experience writing AP curricula and exams, have served as content editors-overseeing the design of the modules, video content, interactive tools, and assessment questions.

All modules feature original content developed by instructors from around the country who have extensive College Board experience-many of whom are well-respected high school AP teachers.

During the 2014-15 academic year, the Davidson Next project team conducted a pilot program in 26 high schools, mostly in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools district, as well as in several schools in Durham, Greensboro and Asheville, N.C., and Charleston, S.C. Thirty-four AP teachers and 1,200 AP students vetted the Davidson Next materials across three subjects and offered feedback on the modules. The Davidson Next team then incorporated the feedback from AP teachers, student activity metrics from the edX platform, and AP outcomes from school districts and made adjustments to further strengthen the content.

In addition to the pilot program participants, Davidson Next also is working closely with Houston Independent School District and the North Carolina AP Partnership (a division of the College Board supporting underserved high schools in North Carolina with AP, SAT and other college readiness supports) to make these modules available to their students and teachers this summer, thus supporting efforts to expand AP teacher supports and access to free student resources.

More information

Learn more about Davidson Next, visit our website or email Project Manager Julie Goff at jugoff@davidson.edu.
View the Davidson Next modules on edx.org.

Related News Coverage

Washington Post: "The new frontier for Advanced Placement: Online AP lessons, for free"
New York Times: "How High Schoolers Spent Their Summers: Online, Taking More Courses"
Inside Higher Ed: "Modules for Mastery"
Education Dive: "How Davidson, edX, and College Board aim to scale AP access."
Charlotte Observer: "Stumped by AP Calculus? Click on Davidson College's Online Help"
Education Week: "Free AP Lessons Offered Online in Calculus, Physics, Macroeconomics"