The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) will use $1 million in grant funding to launch the Digital Textbook and Materials Pilot program at seven colleges across the commonwealth.

Bunker Hill Community College, Northern Essex Community College, Roxbury Community College, Springfield Technical Community College, Fitchburg State University, Framingham State University, and Salem State University will use the funding to access digital textbooks, courseware, and materials on the Lumen Learning platform for free.

“In addition to reducing student textbook costs, this national movement is empowering faculty to curate their own educational materials,” Paul Beaudin, provost of Northern Essex Community College (NECC), said in a press release. “In a very real way, this enhances faculty scholarship and has the potential of adding value to student learning,” he said.

Educators will have until June 30, 2023 to take advantage of the grant, but Lumen will continue to provide free use of its platform through the fall 2023 semester, a press release from NECC said. After the grant period ends, Lumen’s course platform will cost $35 per student.

Lumen explained that with the grant funding, faculty members can select course materials for adoption immediately, whether for a complete course as a primary learning source or specific modules that can serve as supplemental learning materials to provide extra practice in certain areas. For faculty who teach classes that have already started this semester, this grant offers a chance to experiment with the materials before deciding to use them in subsequent semesters, Lumen said.

“Many faculty choose open textbooks in order to improve textbook affordability, but do so at the cost of resources that are critical for teaching and learning – things like automatically graded practice with immediate feedback for students and dashboards that help faculty identify struggling students in real-time,” said Dr. David Wiley, chief academic officer and co-founder of Lumen Learning. “With Lumen’s courseware, faculty can choose [open educational resources] that are integrated with all the additional resources they need to teach successfully so their students can learn successfully.”

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