Intellus Learning: OER Repositories for Holistic Education

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In one of the Dr. Who episodes, the eponymous doctor compared books to weapons and library to the arsenal of these weapons. The truth of the comparison lies in the fact that often an educational institution’s prowess depends on the strength of the library. However, the ever-increasing number of books necessary to impart a holistic education on one hand, and student to book ratio of popular books on the other, increase the educational expenses of institutions beyond the allotted budget. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, university libraries spend an estimated $2.6 billion on academic resources. One sustainable solution for this problem is the use of open educational resources (OER). While OER offers a plausible solution, the use of OER comes with its own set of obstacles. While the number of platforms providing OER is increasing, the educators need to integrate different analytics services pertaining to learners and their learning processes, to optimize the outcome of the learning. Faced with a similar challenge of finding a wholesome OER solution, one of the assistant professors at Allan Hancock College came across a perfect fit for the academic needs of OER.

Intellus Learning is an educational Platform-as-a-Service company that offers wide varieties of learning analytics on top of repositories of high-quality OER. “At Intellus, our mission is to make teaching and learning easier for faculty by providing a personalized and affordable learning experience for students,” David Kim, founder and CEO, Intellus Learning, gives voice to the mission and vision of his company. Kim, a Stanford University alumnus, founded Intellus in 2011 to materialize his social views on the importance of education for society.

The massive success and popularity of Intellus among educators prompted its acquisition by Macmillan Learning in January 2017; however, Intellus continues to operate independently. Currently, Macmillan Learning’s editorial teams, in partnership with academic SMEs, curate the OERs for Intellus. All the content is selected, outlined, and reviewed by a group of Macmillan Learning editors, compliance experts, and instructors—saving educators’ time and giving them course materials they can trust. Susan Winslow, managing director at Macmillan Learning, says, “At Macmillan Learning, our goal has always been to provide the best educational content and tools for educators.

At Intellus, our mission is to make teaching and learning easier for faculty by providing a personalized and affordable learning experience for students

Intellus allows us to continue that work while supporting institutional budgetary and retention goals.” Using patented machine learning approach, Intellus indexes millions of content learning objects in-use at an institution. Content cataloging, curation, and publishing tools enable quick discovery and integration of OER and library resources into courses through the Intellus’ homegrown LMS.

It is the learning analytics that puts Intellus ahead of the pack of other OER providers. As the OER content is taken care of by the Macmillan team, Intellus concentrates on the learning analytics that educators use the most from third-party vendors and looks for ways to integrate them with their current OER providers. Learning analytics tracks student engagement in real time to provide greater insights to educators, so they can better control each course’s outcome. The easy-to-use analytics dashboard makes it easy for educators to get powerful insights into students’ engagement with content, the strength and weakness of content, and performance of students. Additionally, educators can take advantage of the robust suite of instructor resources, including test banks with hundreds of questions, presentation slides for each lesson, on-demand support materials, and student response questions.

From a humble beginning to partnership with Macmillan Learning, Intellus has come a long way and it continues to grow. With a distinguished list of capabilities, the company has set itself apart from its competitors. Equipped with OER repository and best-in-class analytics, Intellus has been an integral part of academic institutions looking for a hassle-free and holistic OER solution. As for the future, Intellus is looking at further democratizing the OER marketplace with more licensed educational resources. “With many new features in the pipeline, we are just starting up,” Kim remarks about the business roadmap of Intellus.