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VCCS Funds Access to Lumen’s Supported OER Courseware with No Cost to Students

Virginia Community College System renews agreement making Lumen Learning’s OER courseware and support services available to any VCCS student, faculty, and college

Portland, Ore. (May 16, 2019) – Lumen Learning announced it has finalized an agreement with the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) making Lumen’s award-winning digital courseware available throughout the system at no cost to students for the 2019-2020 academic year. For the fifth year in a row, VCCS leaders approved the agreement on behalf of the 23 member colleges across the state. By investing in this partnership, the VCCS reaffirmed its commitment to providing evidence-based learning tools, technology, and support services that make open educational resources (OER) simple to use, reliable, and effective for faculty and students.

“The use of open educational resources remains a priority for the VCCS to improve college affordability and student success, and our partnership with Lumen supports this priority,” said Sheri Prupis, director of teaching & learning technologies for the Virginia Community College System. “This agreement provides access to a reliable platform, excellent integration with Canvas, and well-designed learning tools that can improve teaching and learning with OER. By investing at the system level, we can make all this completely free to VCCS students.”

The VCCS was among the first statewide systems in the U.S. to recognize the potential for OER to transform the general education curriculum, and it was an early collaborator with Lumen Learning pioneering the use of OER to replace expensive textbooks. In 2013, two VCCS colleges, Tidewater Community College and Northern Virginia Community College, made headlines introducing the nation’s first zero textbook cost degree programs. These so-called “Z-degree” programs make it possible for students to complete associate’s degrees in which every class uses only open educational resources. VCCS leaders signed a system-level agreement with Lumen for the first time in 2014, after recognizing the importance of providing strong support services to encourage more faculty members to open course materials. Funding these services through a system-level agreement has avoided passing the cost directly to students.

“The early vision and leadership of the VCCS helped forge a path for how to support wide-scale adoption of open educational resources across an entire higher education system,” said Kim Thanos, CEO of Lumen Learning. “As OER have entered the mainstream as an option for general education curriculum, VCCS colleges have been at the forefront proving the value of this investment in terms of student outcomes, faculty engagement with learning materials, and of course recurring textbook cost savings.”

Over the course of Lumen’s partnership with the VCCS, the number of students benefiting from OER course materials has increased every year. In 2018, Lumen-supported OER materials were used by over 30,000 student enrollments at 15 of the 23 VCCS institutions. Across the system, 30+ different subjects are taught with Lumen OER course materials.

“Lumen has been our partner since the very beginning. They have provided expertise in areas that we don’t have as an institution, and that support is essential for faculty and students,” said Dr. Kelly Gillerlain, professor of business at Tidewater Community College. “They help identify OER content and verify open licensing, and they take responsibility for keeping it up to date and accessible for everyone. Their platforms are reliable and easy to use, and they turn OER into complete, well-designed courses our students can engage with.”

Lumen’s work with OER extends beyond instructional content to digital learning tools faculty and students use with OER to make the learning experience more effective. Lumen has used learning science research to guide the development of Waymaker digital courseware, which uses frequent practice, personalized feedback, and timely nudges to strengthen academic performance, particularly for disadvantaged students. Through the VCCS partnership, a growing number of faculty members and colleges are using this courseware with OER content to provide more engaging learning opportunities for students. Research suggests when Waymaker courseware is in use, fewer students drop classes resulting in more students who successfully pass their courses.

“Since using Waymaker, I’ve experienced better outcomes, higher quality learning outside of class, and more ideas for integrating learning content into other courses,” said Ruth Greene, professor of information systems technology at Rappahannock Community College. “I work hard to provide students with the best quality resources, at the best cost possible. I strive to provide the best learning experience to help students be successful in college and beyond. I’m confident I can do that with Lumen course materials.”  

About Lumen Learning

Lumen Learning provides digital course materials designed to strengthen learning, using open educational resources (OER). Lumen replaces expensive textbooks with affordable digital content that emphasizes interactivity, learning by doing, and ease of use. Adding timely updates, learning design, and technical support to OER, Lumen makes open content simple, reliable, and effective for instructors and students.

Lumen OER courseware includes Waymaker personalized learning courseware and OHM, an online homework system for math and other quantitative subjects. Over 250 colleges and universities across the U.S. use Lumen-supported digital courseware for in-person, online, and blended courses. Materials created by Lumen are published under Creative Commons Attribution licenses and contributed back to the education community. Learn more at, and visit our course catalog at

Media Contact

Julie Curtis, VP Strategy & Communication

Lumen Learning

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Photo: “VCU Proselytizing” by Eli Christman is licensed under CC BY 2.0