Open Educational Resources

Lumen Learning Intros Personalized Learning Courseware

A new offering from open education company Lumen Learning offers students and faculty insights and tools to make their own decisions about how to learn most effectively. Developed as part of the Next Generation Courseware Challenge, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Waymaker is courseware that combines "OER with learning science insights to deliver a personalized learning experience with a deep commitment to both affordability and quality," according to the company.

Key elements of Waymaker include:

  • Use of open educational resources;
  • Quizzes and other assessments designed as learning activities (not just measurement activities), giving students more than one chance to complete each assessment along with feedback about how to improve performance;
  • Use of data to provide students with personalized recommendations about where to focus their attention to improve learning; and
  • Helps faculty identify and connect with students individually when and where they need help and encouragement.

To develop Waymaker course content, Lumen Learning works with subject-matter experts to curate and adapt the best available OER, including text, video, simulations and other content. The resulting resources are published under a Creative Commons attribution license. Institutions pay a per-student fee to use the Waymaker courseware package, which includes delivery of course materials in Lumen's courseware platform, instrumentation of content and assessments, personalization tools, integration with the institution's learning management system, training and technical support.

Twelve institutions are piloting Waymaker this fall, using the courseware in both face-to-face classroom settings as well as hybrid and fully online courses. Lumen Learning is capturing feedback from instructors and students, along with behavioral and student performance data, to fine-tune its approach and drive ongoing improvements to the product.

"From this fall's courseware pilot, we are seeing great validation for each part of the learning model behind the courseware," said Kim Thanos, CEO of Lumen Learning, in a press release. "We are also identifying critical points where Waymaker can shape positive behaviors among students and faculty to strengthen learning and engagement. Since continuous improvement is a big part of our culture and process, we are excited to continue testing and refining Waymaker as we understand more about what works, and why."

"Affordability, access and student engagement are near-universal problems for U.S. higher education today," said JoAnna Schilling, vice president for academic affairs and assistant superintendent at Cerritos College, which is currently piloting Waymaker. "Solutions like Waymaker hold promise for helping us reach students earlier and in more individualized, targeted ways, with better tools to make a positive impact on student success."

About the Author

About the author: Rhea Kelly is executive editor for Campus Technology. She can be reached at rkelly@1105media.com.

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