Kim Thanos, Founder and CEO
Every student is different and educators are continuously trying to find effective ways to reach them. Educators want to instill good learning behavior and practices in students and impart an education that allows them to choose suitable careers as confident professionals. However, as schools, colleges, and academic institutions shift their plans for the upcoming academic year due to COVID, teachers are finding it even harder to deliver effective lessons and oversee student progress.
Enter Lumen Learning, an EdTech company that creates course materials using open educational resources (OER) to create curated comprehensive courses available in its Waymaker and OHM platforms. “We identify all the critical learning objectives in high-enrollment courses to create a comprehensive learning resource with regular practice opportunities and assessments that help students learn and share their understanding with faculty members,” says Kim Thanos, co-Founder and CEO at Lumen Learning. Educators can check their students’ performance and then decide on a course of action that best suits each student. A study from Carnegie Mellon states that ‘learning by doing (experimentation)’ encourages students to study six times faster than reading, listening, or through any other passive experience. Not only does Lumen provide students with effective courseware through a user-friendly solution, but the company also provides faculty members with a set of tools that allows them to easily message and interact with students. The built-in features encourage more effective learning practices and help build confidence and a growth mindset in students.
To make the on boarding process as easy as possible for an instructor, Lumen sets up a Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) connection with an institution Learning Management System and provides faculty members a file to upload. The digital document contains organized and comprehensive information that allows teachers to easily upload of all materials and applications a teacher requires to deliver a course. In addition, educators can easily add links or files to further personalize their course. Additionally, Lumen provides a team of experts with extensive experience working with school staff to quickly implement their courseware tools. Through virtual or in person sessions, training can be offered to individual faculty members, departments, or a larger audience of educators teaching a particular course. “Our experts give educators a quick review of the application setup process and a range of different applications and tools they can integrate into our systems to engage effectively with their students,” comments Thanos.
In order to check a student’s understanding of a subject, Lumen has developed various assessment opportunities, from simple multiple-choice questions with immediate feedback to auto-graded module quizzes. “We cover every bit of a curriculum and build assessments for all of the typical learning outcomes for each of the courses that we provide across the country,” comments Thanos. To better inspire students, Lumen encourages teachers to allow students to take the quizzes multiple times. At any time, educators can enter the digital student engagement center to check if their students are engaged and utilizing the provided material to the fullest. Educators can set up a range of pre-populated messages that can act as triggers for students.
We can develop a closer connection and interaction between the faculty members and students, and help educators understand where students are struggling and where they can improve
If a student takes a quiz and does not achieve mastery, Lumen’s system goes back to check and highlight if the student has been using the practice questions to prepare for the assessment. In cases where a student is ignoring the study aids provided, the instructor can set up a message that automatically notifies them to use the practice questions to better prepare for upcoming assessments or quizzes. The outreach encourages students to go back in, practice, and improve their score the next time, while also allowing teachers to show students they are paying attention to the work they are doing. “We can develop a closer connection and interaction between faculty members and students, and help educators understand where students are struggling and where they can improve,” elucidates Thanos.
Lumen courseware is meant to enable students to perform better on assessments, achieve course mastery, and succeed in learning the material they need to be successful in their course and beyond. Waymaker and OHM also build the metacognitive skills of the students so they can transform into effective learners. The plan allows students to carry those behaviors forward into other courses they may pursue, which may not necessarily use Lumen’s study materials and platforms. “We are trying to develop both mastery of the learning content in the course, and also stronger study and learning skills that students can carry with them throughout their life,” explains Thanos. Besides promoting a student’s growth and success, Lumen provides educators with all the ancillary material they require to plan and effectively teach their course within a given period.
Besides Waymaker and OHM, Lumen also offers a professional development platform—Lumen Circles—that allows teachers to virtually connect with each other and reflect on the use of evidence-based teaching practices. Faculty members can explore new teaching methods, incorporate and use them in their teaching environment, share their experiences with others, and receive feedback and ideas from their peers. Lumen Circles helps faculty members see what they are already doing well, build on their strengths, and test new teaching practices from a broader perspective. Educators that seek to dive more deeply into evidence-based teaching practices can go through Lumen’s nine-week professional development program. The fellowship allows them to pursue different techniques while engaging their students in active learning and build a successful community in their classrooms.
Lumen’s platforms are delivered as a complete package, and users can remove, adjust, or customize the applications to suit their requirements rather than receiving a partial solution that they must configure themselves. From a price perspective, at twenty-five dollars per course, Lumen’s materials cost only a fraction of a textbook that may cost hundreds of dollars. Lumen, in this regard, can provide significant savings for students and eliminate cost as a barrier toward learning and success.
Moving forward, Lumen is looking to provide access to affordable and effective learning materials for more students by adding missing courses to the sixty-five courses now offered through their platforms. The focus is on adding new solutions and continuing to double down on improving student learning. To help ensure they are creating an equal learning experience for all students, Lumen is in the process of creating user testing centers on minority-serving campuses. “We are focused on the testing process to understand if there are any unconscious biases in any of our course content. Lumen ensures that our learning materials create the most inclusive experience and we create a sense of belonging for all the students at an institution,” concludes Thanos.