UArizona e-Learning Startup Responds to Coronavirus with Free Online Tools for Educators

March 17, 2020

TUCSON, Ariz. – As educational institutions began to move courses online because of COVID-19 concerns, librarians and other educators, in service to their students, are experiencing an immediate increased need for easy-to-use, engaging e-learning tools. In response, Sidecar Learning(link is external), a startup launched 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, 2020.

“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,” co-inventor and UArizona Associate Librarian Jason Dewland said. “We’re happy to be able to make this contribution.”

Co-inventor Yvonne Mery, also an associate librarian at the university, added that this is the best tool to use to teach students how to use a database since it uses a live environment but in an asynchronous manner.

Dewland and Mery developed the concept for the Sidecar Learning product during the course of their work at the UArizona Libraries. With the help and services of Tech Launch Arizona, the office that commercializes inventions stemming from UArizona innovation, they proceeded to develop the company and launched Sidecar in 2019.

“The Sidecar team took advantage of many of the resources TLA offers to its startups, such as the I-Corps program to Asset Development funding,” said Doug Hockstad, assistant vice president of TLA. “They always exhibited a real desire to have an impact on education, and I think this is further evidence of that desire.”

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 UArizona, the platform was developed to provide scalable authenticated research instruction at the point and moment of need.

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