Named after the Latin word for useful, Utilium was founded by three professors who thought that there must be a better way to organize and deliver course materials. Students today spend about $900 a year on course materials (i.e., 26% of tuition at 4-year public universities).1 The cost of materials increases by about 6% each and every year. Despite this significant cost, the vast majority of students quickly sell or discard their course materials soon after class is finished because they ascribe little value to the materials.2 In fact, an increasing numbers of students indicate that traditional course materials are neither interesting nor relevant to their life.3,4 And it shows in the classroom, as more and more students are coming unprepared and tuning out using applications like Facebook on their personal laptops.4
At Utilium our core purpose is to enable instructors to organize and deliver course materials that truly resonate with today’s students. This means the materials should be emotionally engaging, affordable, and easy to use. The materials should incorporate sound pedagogical principles and, at the same time, fit the learning styles and preferences of today’s students. The materials should serve as critical learning resources, not only during students’ college or university experience, but also after graduation.
In line with our core purpose, Utilium has developed a set of content and tools to enable instructors to quickly deliver course materials that resonate with today’s students. First, we have a collection of ready-made Study Packs. A Study Pack is a substitute for a traditional textbook or course pack, and is an organized collection of learning resources drawn from a range of trusted online sources. Each Study Pack contains timely articles, videos, cases, and exercises, which have been integrated using important pedagogical elements such as learning objectives and thought exercises. Second, for an instructor who has a vision for new course materials, we have developed authoring tools that enable an instructor to efficiently develop a new Study Pack and share it with his/her colleagues and students. To assist instructors in tailoring a ready-made Study Pack or authoring a Study Pack from scratch, we have a growing library of learning resources categorized by discipline and topic.