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Gateway courses are supposed to clear the path to fields of study, but for millions of students who struggle in those key classes, they often shut the door prematurely.

This week’s episode of The Key, Inside Higher Ed’s news and analysis podcast, examines early efforts to develop courseware for 20 high-enrollment courses that can make or break whether students from all backgrounds persist and ultimately complete their educations. The goal of the initiative, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is to bring together colleges, companies and research organizations to build digital courses that can be used on dozens if not hundreds of campuses to eliminate gaps in performance by students from different backgrounds.

Joining the discussion are Ariel Anbar, President’s Professor at Arizona State University, which is working with Carnegie Mellon University and the publisher OpenStax to create a general chemistry course heavy on active learning and real-world problem solving, and Jeanette Koskinas, chief product officer at Lumen Learning, which is developing an introductory statistics course in close collaboration with students and instructors at institutions like Rockland Community College and Santa Ana College.

Please listen to the episode here and click here to find out more about The Key.