Carnegie Mellon University
April 10, 2019

Carnegie Mellon, Lumen Learning Partner To Expand Support for Evidence-based Learning Materials

Mission-aligned collaboration demonstrates promising model for continuously improving effectiveness of learning materials

Jason Maderer
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • 412-268-1151
Julie Curtis

Carnegie Mellon University’s Simon Initiative and open courseware provider Lumen Learning today announced a partnership to share tools for developing, evaluating and continuously improving evidence-based learning materials. Lumen and the Simon Initiative have collaborated to integrate the RISE Framework, an analytical tool used to identify poorly performing learning content, into a new educational effectiveness toolkit announced recently by Carnegie Mellon.

Through the partnership, Lumen will help build awareness, implement and support faculty members’ use of next-generation learning tools developed by both organizations.

“Edtech innovation must become more connected to research insights as they unfold, rather than untethering learning technology from scientific breakthroughs about how people learn,” said Norman Bier, executive director of the Simon Initiative. “CMU continually breaks new ground in learning engineering. Robust, mission-aligned partnerships, like our work with Lumen Learning, allow us to accelerate the research and innovation cycle, scaling up access to new approaches while using the toolkit to maintain strong connections to evidence-based design.”

Carnegie Mellon and Lumen Learning are established leaders in impact-driven learning, committed to developing highly effective and affordable learning materials using open educational resources (OER). Their partnership builds on over a decade of collaborations between members of the Lumen and Simon Initiative teams, including participation in the Next Generation Courseware Challenge, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The partnership demonstrates a new model for how educational institutions and private companies can work together toward outcomes important to higher education and the future of learning, as well as the type of successful project-based collaboration being pursued by members of the Empirical Educator Project (EEP) cohort.

“Using the RISE Framework together with methods developed and shared by CMU, we’re able to empirically validate what’s effective and what’s not effective at supporting learning,” said David Wiley, co-founder and chief academic officer of Lumen Learning. “These insights empower faculty to spend their limited time making improvements to learning materials where they will have the most impact. We’re incredibly excited to use and contribute to CMU’s toolkit as part of a growing network exploring new ways to continuously improve learning materials.”

The Simon Initiative’s educational effectiveness toolkit represents an ecosystem of learning tools, research methods, software and content developed over decades with more than $100 million in investment. Over the coming year, CMU will make this openly licensed toolkit available to the education community.

“Helping faculty members make the leap to evidence-based teaching and learning tools is no small feat,” said Kim Thanos, CEO of Lumen Learning. “That’s where an organization like Lumen can truly complement the learning engineering coming out of CMU. We bring expertise in how to package, promote, and support learning materials delivered at scale, and how to prepare faculty members to take full advantage of the potential to continuously improve learning.”

Through their partnership, the Carnegie Mellon and Lumen Learning teams plan to build on established relationships with higher education institutions focused on teaching and learning innovation like the State University of New York (SUNY) and the University System of Maryland’s Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation. As more students and faculty members use evidence-based learning solutions engineered through the toolkit, they anticipate not only improved student outcomes, but also greater opportunities to learn from each other how to support effective learning.   

“SUNY is excited about this partnership announcement, because both Carnegie Mellon and Lumen have been excellent resources for our faculty who choose to teach with OER,” said Mark McBride, library senior strategist for the State University of New York System Administration. “Their platforms provide a unique learning experience for students, utilizing technology that provides students with immediate feedback that is advantageous to their learning experiences.”

About Carnegie Mellon’s Simon Initiative

Named for the late CMU professor and Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon, the Simon Initiative connects and accelerates the university’s leading work at the intersection of learning research and educational technology. Central to the initiative is an approach that Simon dubbed Learning Engineering: combining learning research, data and the affordances of technology to design, deliver, improve and investigate educational innovations. Using the learning engineering ecosystem as a foundation, the initiative is building a broader community of educators, researchers and practitioners that will improve outcomes for all students while advancing our understanding of human learning.

Simon challenged higher education to commit to a more systematic and scientific approach to its work: “Improvement in post-secondary education will require converting teaching from a solo sport to a community-based research activity.” Learn more about joining this community at

About Lumen Learning

Lumen Learning uses open educational resources (OER) to provide affordable course materials that improve learning and replace expensive textbooks in high-enrollment college courses. Adding timely updates, learning design, and technical support to OER, Lumen makes the transition to open content simple, reliable, and effective for instructors and students.

Lumen OER courseware includes Waymaker personalized learning course materials, OHM online homework system for math and other quantitative subjects. Over 200 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