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Lumen Learning CEO Kim Thanos. (Lumen Learning Photo)

Portland-based Lumen Learning today announced a $3.75 million Series A investment round and a new partnership with Follett to expand the distribution of its open digital education course materials.

Follett, which manages course materials delivery for more than 1,200 college and universities, participated in the Series A round, as did previous investors Portland Seed Fund and Seattle-based Alliance of Angels. Total funding for the 5-year-old company is $6.3 million to date.

Founded in 2012 by Kim Thanos and David Wiley, Lumen Learning helps students at more than 100 institutions save on traditional textbook costs by offering open education resources (OER) for popular college courses. OER are available under public domain or have been released under a copyright license and include full courses, course materials, videos, tests, and more.

Now Lumen Learning’s courseware will be available to students attending schools that work with Follett to distribute course material. Students pay a Lumen support fee of $10-$25 via the campus bookstore to access the customizable courseware, which can be integrated into a school’s existing learning management system.

Lumen Learning takes advantage of the millions of dollars that government, foundations, and other educational organizations have invested in OER and designs its own low-cost learning materials.

“Working in the higher education market, our secret sauce is being a mission-driven organization filled with people — many of them from the academic world — who are passionate about improving learning and offering affordable access to education for all students,” Lumen Learning CEO Kim Thanos told GeekWire. This means we’re committed to developing products that actually improve learning, and that work effectively in real classrooms filled with students and teachers struggling with real-world problems: lack of time, tight funding, competing priorities, under-preparation for the college environment, and so forth.”

Lumen Learning was previously a grantee in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Next Generation Learning Challenge and Next Generation Courseware Challenge programs. The company employs 28 people.

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