Innovative Projects by Lumen Learning

Members of the Lumen team have contributed and led several of the most influential initiatives in open education. In fact, Lumen was founded to help other institutions replicate and build on the successes of these projects.

The Kaleidoscope Open Course Initiative

The Kaleidoscope Open Course Initiative is a Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) grant-funded project that began in 2012. Kaleidoscope set out to implement a set of fully open general education courses across eight colleges serving predominantly at-risk students, dramatically reduce textbook costs, and allow collaborative improvement of course designs to improve student success. The project exceeded these goals by moving the cost of required textbooks in participating courses to $0 (by replacing textbooks with OER) and improving average student success rates by 5-10% when compared to student performance in the same courses offered by the same instructors in previous years. After a second round of funding, a total of more than 25 partner institutions participated and benefitted from this project.

Read more about Kaleidscope’s impact on cost savings in this May 2014 IRRODL article co-authored by Lumen’s Dr. David Wiley.

The Open High School of Utah

Mountain Heights Academy, formerly the Open High School of Utah, is a fully online public charter school which, anticipating Lumen’s zero textbook cost model for courseware, relies exclusively on open educational resources across its curriculum. Among many other distinctions, the Academy was recently highlighted by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as a model of innovation for other schools to follow. See the full list of honors and awards on the school’s website, or learn more about the school by reading, “Opening” a New Kind of School: the Story of the Open High School of Utah in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL). Lumen founder Dr. David Wiley is also a founder of the school and serves on the school’s Board of Directors.

The Utah Open Textbook Project

The Utah Open Textbook Project began with a few teachers, then expanded to an entire district, and is now operating statewide. The project engages teachers in the process of collaboratively aggregatingh OER and aligning these with state standards in order to produce fully OER-based replacements for expensive commercial science textbooks.

To date, approximately 6,000 students and 30 teachers have participated in the program, which provides open textbooks for free in digital format and approximately $5 per book in printed format (compared to $80 to $100 books from commercial publishers). In the early years of the project there were no differences in state standardized test scores between students using the $5 books and those using the $100 books. But recent evidence suggests students using the open textbooks may be learning slightly more.

Read more about this project in, “A Preliminary Examination of the Cost Savings and Learning Impacts of Using Open Textbooks in Middle and High School Classes” in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL). Initiated by Lumen Founder Dr. David Wiley, the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) now operates the project with support from Lumen Learning.

Tidewater Community College’s Z-Degree

Virginia’s Tidewater Community College (TCC) partnered with Lumen Learning to develop a first-of-its-kind zero textbook cost associates degree, which was introduced in fall semester 2013. For students who pursue this new degree program in business management, the total cost for required textbooks will be zero. Instead, all courses in the program use high quality open textbooks and other OER. College leaders estimate that a TCC student who completes the degree through this program may save as much as one-third on the cost of their college degree.  TCC is the first accredited institution in the United States to offer a degree in which students pay nothing for required textbooks. Learn more by viewing this TCC-produced video about the project.