Spring 2020

Startup Provides Free Online Tools for Educators

As educational institutions begin to move courses online because of COVID-19 concerns, librarians and other educators have experienced an immediate increased need for easy-to-use, engaging e-learning tools. In response, Sidecar Learning, a startup based on software developed at the University of Arizona Libraries, has announced that it is offering free licenses to all U.S. higher education institutions until May 31.

Jason Dewland and Yvonne Mery of the Arizona Libraries and Sidecar Learning

“We worked hard to develop this platform, and with today’s crisis, we now have the opportunity to use it to impact tens if not hundreds of thousands of students,” says co-inventor Jason Dewland, an associate librarian at the University of Arizona. “We’re happy to be able to make this contribution.”

The Sidecar Learning e-learning tool teaches students how to research, navigate difficult websites and evaluate information using live web content. Created and funded at the University of Arizona, the platform was developed to provide scalable, authenticated research instruction at the point and moment of need.

Co-inventor Yvonne Mery, also an associate librarian at the university, says that this is the best tool to teach students how to use a database, because it uses a live environment yet allows students to access it at any time.

Dewland and Mery developed the concept for Sidecar Learning during their work at the University of Arizona Libraries. With the help and services of Tech Launch Arizona, the office that commercializes inventions stemming from university innovation, they launched Sidecar in 2019.