Indiana’s Community College System Launches Digital Biology Course to Support Student Success and Lower Cost of Course Materials

New BioBeyond course does away with expensive textbooks, and offers interactive, engaging lessons and unparalleled real-time assessment



Ivy Tech logo


INDIANAPOLIS (October 3, 2018) – Ivy Tech Community College, Indiana’s community college system, announced today the rollout of BioBeyond as the standard course for all distance education online offerings of introductory biology classes. Ivy Tech encompasses more than 40 campus locations and serves nearly 71,000 students. After a successful summer pilot program, BioBeyond will be used in 37 online sections, serving 793 students.

Created by the Inspark Teaching Network and developed on the Smart Sparrow platform, BioBeyond is an engaging, digital course that takes students on a journey to learn how life works. Through 56 active and adaptive lessons, including 13 immersive virtual field trips, 4 integrative projects, and dozens of interactive simulations, students make observations, test hypotheses, and engage with science.

This course was deployed to reduce the cost of course materials, and ensure students successfully complete the general science courses--which is often a barrier to progressing in their education. Intended as a course for non-majors, BioBeyond inspires critical thinking, providing students with engaging material that is inquiry-based rather than founded on rote memorization.

“This new course is a game changer, both in how students engage with and understand the course material, and the insights instructors gain on students’ grasp of concepts throughout the semester,” said Dr. Reid Morehouse, Assistant Professor of Life and Physical Sciences at Ivy Tech. “The pedagogical flexibility and cost savings we’re able to have with this course make it unlike any other.”

Professors welcomed the addition of the adaptive, digital BioBeyond course for its ability to provide instant feedback on a student’s progress and grasp of the material. Regular “gut checks” throughout the course allow instructors to share remedial material with struggling students to dispel misconceptions and put them on a track to pass the course.  

“We know that course material cost can be a barrier for our students,” said Madisen Gunkel, an Instructional Designer at Ivy Tech. “With BioBeyond we’ve found significant cost savings for our students and adaptive and engaging course content.”

Prior to the adoption of BioBeyond course material costs could range anywhere from $185 to over $200. Now, students pay $40 for the course and $15 for the open educational resources. The digital nature of the course additionally removes the barrier of students waiting for financial aid to kick in, or saving up during the semester, to afford expensive required textbooks--with BioBeyond, students gain access to the course materials materials on the first day of classes.   

To date, over 50 colleges across the country have adopted the BioBeyond course, which was developed by the Inspark Teaching Network in partnership with Arizona State University's Center for Education Through Exploration. Inspark champions and facilitates global collaboration among educators to transform science teaching and learning by sharing resources, best practices, and developing innovative courses. Inspark courses are developed using Smart Sparrow technology, enabling the creation of rich, interactive and adaptive digital courseware.  

The full catalog of Inspark courses can be found at

For more information on BioBeyond: 

Access BioBeyond

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About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College serves communities across Indiana, providing world-class education and driving economic transformation. It is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering high-value degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its communities, along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.

About Inspark Teaching Network

The Inspark Teaching Network is a strong partnership between universities, community colleges, scientists, and education experts working to transform science teaching and learning. The network empowers educators and learning designers to collaborate, build, and share next-generation courseware. The courseware harnesses the latest personalized, interactive digital learning technologies, and the learning content focuses on exploring real-world scientific questions to motivate and engage today's students. The Inspark Teaching Network is led by Smart Sparrow and Arizona State University, and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Learn more at


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