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Lumen Learning User Testing Center to Examine Equity in OER Solutions

Open educational resources provider Lumen Learning is partnering with Rockland Community College to launch a user testing center that will gauge the effectiveness and cultural relevance of the company's OER solutions, particularly for low-income and minority students. Rockland is a minority-serving institution of about 9,000 students, part of the State University of New York system.

The testing center will employ paid student interns to learn about Lumen products, identify questions to investigate, recruit peers to participate and run the tests. The goal: to use the experience and feedback of a broad range of students to inform Lumen's equity-centered design process, according to a news announcement.  

"Education companies try to create products that work for everyone," explained Kim Thanos, CEO at Lumen, in a statement. "The reality is that the needs and experiences of our students are not monolithic, and our solutions cannot be either. At Lumen, our mission is to enable unprecedented learning for all students. Today, race and income are often predictors of how students will persist in courses. If we want to change that, we have to better understand the needs and challenges faced by our Black, Latinx, Indigenous and low-income students, and invite them to the table to actively participate in designing solutions."

Students will also be an integral part of analyzing the testing data, noted Carie Page, senior product manager for Lumen. "When you're not a student, it's easy to have blind spots. Our goal is that the interns will enrich our understanding of the students' experiences, in particular the experiences of Black, Latinx, Indigenous and low-income students. Interns will interpret the results as students. This approach will bring student voices into the process to interpret the data through their unique perspectives. Students will also connect their work directly to career options and job skills."

Lumen said it will open additional testing centers at other MSIs over the next year. "We plan to create this user testing structure, replicate it on other campuses and share what we learn with the field broadly," said Thanos. "We believe this approach can improve Lumen's solutions, expand the models for equity-centered design and create a lasting impact for the participating students. We want the interns and the testers to be themselves and to know that their voices are valued and need to be heard."

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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