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Tidewater’s “Z Degree” Nominated for Bellwether Award

Great news for Tidewater Community College, one of Lumen Learning‘s first partner schools:

Tidewater Community College’s textbook-free degree in business, which was launched as a pilot program with the Fall 2013 semester, is a finalist for a national Bellwether Award, given annually by the Community College Futures Assembly.

Among more than 400 applicants in three categories, TCC was selected as one of 10 finalists in the “instructional programs and services” category. All finalists will present their programs Jan. 27 at the Community College Futures Assembly in Orlando, Fla., and winners will be announced the next day at the group’s annual meeting.

TCC launched its “Z Degree” – “z” for zero textbook cost – to ease the pain of soaring textbook costs for college students. It partnered with Lumen Learning, a Portland, Ore.-based company that helps educational institutions integrate open educational resources into their curricula.


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Lumen Learning Update – Saving Students $700,000 Fall 2013

This month is the one year anniversary of Lumen Learning, the “RedHat for OER” I founded with Kim Thanos in October, 2012. It’s been an incredible first year, and we’ve learned a million lessons along the way – and we continue to learn more about what it takes to support OER adoption at scale every day.

We’ve pulled together a summary of what’s happening with our post-secondary work for fall semester 2013 in a press release posted on the Lumen site, which begins:

Twenty institutions have partnered with Lumen to offer open content options for high demand, high enrollment courses that serve more than 6,000 students in total. Because these students are no longer required to purchase commercial textbooks or course materials, cost savings are estimated at approximately $700,000.

(This is our post-secondary impact for fall 2013, and doesn’t include winter term 2013 or our secondary work with the Utah open textbooks which is now statewide in math and science.)

The release also provides some details regarding the impact on student learning outcomes of the OER adoptions we’re supporting, information about a math pilot we’re running in winter semester 2014, and a description of our newly redesigned services and support model which we’ve branded “Candela.”

Thank you to everyone who is supporting our efforts to increase the quality and lower the cost of education – our institutional partners; the small but passionate Lumen team; the many of you who say and write positive things about our work; the Shuttleworth Foundation who have provided direct financial support for our work; and the broader community of OER funders and organizations who make our work possible, including the Hewlett Foundation, NGLC, the Gates Foundation, the Saylor Foundation, OpenStax, CK-12, Boundless, CMU OLI, and dozens of other individuals and orgs.

It feels like we’re really making a difference in people’s lives – we’ve saved students around $1M this year, and I firmly believe we can do 5x – 7x that next year.

Happy anniversary, Lumen!

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Lumen Learning: A Red Hat for OER

Last week I wrote about the many goals I have for the open education movement, and how a Fellowship from the Shuttleworth Foundation is enabling me to spend focused time pursuing them. While I tried to lay out a compelling vision of what I want to accomplish last week, I didn’t discuss the how. Clearly, accomplishing a set of goals of that scope and magnitude requires more energy and productive capacity than any one person could ever muster.

Today I’m happy to announce the launch of Lumen Learning, a new organization I’ve founded together with my long-time friend and collaborator Kim Thanos. Our goal with Lumen is to significantly improve student success by bridging the gap between OER developers and potential OER adopters.

Over a decade and $100M US in foundation funding later, an incredible amount of high quality open educational resources exist which are only rarely used in formal settings. The situation today feels very much like it did with open source software about a decade ago. Back around the turn of the century, almost everyone had heard of open source and was interested in potentially saving money and improving the stability and quality of their technology offerings, but very few institutions had either the bravery or the capacity to run systems for which there was no formal training and no technical support. Red Hat stepped into this vast pool of curiosity and caution with training, technical support, and other services that put adopting Linux within the reach of a normal institution. Lumen is trying to do exactly same thing – step into the deep pool of curiosity and caution around OER with the faculty training, academic leadership consulting, technical and pedagogical support, and other services necessary to put adopting OER within reach of a normal institution. In other words, we want to make Lumen into a “Red Hat for OER.”

In the coming days and weeks I’ll write more about what we’re doing. For now, check out for an overview of our first group of partner schools, services, etc. More to come…