On Turning Two

Two years ago, David Wiley and I took the confident step to found Lumen Learning. In the wake of phenomenal success with the first wave of NGLC-funded Kaleidoscope pilot projects, we saw ample demand for resources and expertise to support institutions through the transition to open educational resources. We saw the writing on the wall for the traditional textbook industry and the need for innovators to disrupt a broken system. Enter Lumen Learning.

Since that day in 2012, we have made steady strides towards strengthening student success through the widespread adoption of open educational resources. We aren’t there yet - not by a long shot. But we’re on the way, thanks to many progressive institutions, faculty members, academic leaders and a whole host of Lumen friends and supporters who help us along the way.

In the spirit of openness and sharing that inspired us to found Lumen, we are introducing this blog to share more visibly what we’re seeing, doing and learning as we advance our mission.

With that in mind, I am excited to share several Lumen Learning updates:

  • Our growing client community. Recently we began supporting our 65th client, providing “open courses” - pre-built, outcomes-based courses designed using open educational resources - to replace commercial textbooks in high-enrollment courses.
  • Our expanding course catalog. Lumen’s stated goal is to offer high quality open courseware that fully replaces textbooks in high-enrollment courses at colleges and universities. Today our course catalog has expanded to just over fifty courses across many disciplines and subjects. Cost effective general education, anyone?
  • Blending OER and competency-based education. The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges is working with Lumen Learning to develop 18 online courses for a new self-paced, competency-based business transfer degree program. We are very excited about these new courses, which are designed with open educational resources and use embedded assessments to create personal learning pathways for each student based on their prior knowledge and where they need to develop mastery. See our recent announcement to learn more.
  • “Game Changer” grand prize. At this year’s EDUCAUSE 2014 Annual Conference, Lumen was selected as one of 12 start-up companies to participate in the Game Changers Business Competition. After giving the judges our best start-up pitch for OER-based supported courseware, Lumen Learning emerged victorious! Read the Chronicle’s take on stand-out start-ups at this year’s conference.
  • New grant funding through the Next Generation Courseware Challenge. The Gates Foundation selected Lumen Learning as one of seven organizations to receive funding through the Next Generation Courseware Challenge, a competitive grant program that aims to support the creation of exemplary, affordable digital course materials that improve student success among low-income and disadvantaged learners. Our courseware concept takes on the 2 Sigma Problem of Benjamin Bloom. Read more about this exciting project in our announcement.
  • Growing the Lumen Team (a.k.a. the “Lumenati”). Growth in demand has translated into growth in our organization. Since May we have welcomed three new team members: Tom Chapman, our chief financial officer; Julie Curtis, our VP of strategy and communications; and Nate Angell, our doorman. What’s a doorman, you ask? It’s someone who opens all kinds of doors.

Stay tuned on this front: we expect to share more staffing updates in the near future as our team continues to grow.

And last but not least:

  • Lumen Learning turns two. These past two years have been alternately exciting, exhausting, awe-inspiring, illuminating (no pun intended), and often all these things at once. While we are a company establishing its place in the world, we are also on a mission to impact student success through the effective use of open educational resources. This duality represents our guideposts as we take on the challenges and opportunities ahead.

If you’re reading this, it’s either because you’re interested in what we’re doing, or else because you’ve already joined us on this journey. Either way, we’re glad you’re here. Passing this momentous milestone, we look forward to the future we’re creating together.

Happy birthday indeed, Lumen Learning.