Tools of the Trade: May 2020 Special Focus

Are you an educator who wants to try a new collaboration tool, case study, or technological platform? Now is a good time—edtech companies everywhere are offering schools free access to their products and resources.


Tools of the Trade

IN RESPONSE TO the global impact of COVID-19, a host of edtech and publishing companies have shown support by making their products available for free or at reduced rates. From case studies to test proctoring software, a range of options is available to educators as they work to deliver their courses online while their campuses are closed.

Curricular Support:

SAGE Business & Management is sharing its newly published business case, “The Challenge of Measuring the Economic Impact of Coronavirus.” Also available are case teaching notes, as well as relevant research questions and open datasets from the publisher’s Data Planet resource. This express case is designed to help students extrapolate the COVID-19 fallout from their own experiences. Paired with the research questions and data, the case can be used to guide them in discussions of the local, national, and global impact.

Kaplan Professional is offering free online educational courses, related to industry-specific credentials. These courses, which are part of Kaplan’s Workplace Readiness Program, include Securities Industry Essentials, Wealth Management Specialist, and the Cybersecurity Critical Knowledge Course. Those interested should email a query to [email protected].

VitalSource, an edtech company based in Raleigh, North Carolina, has partnered with publishers to offer free access to a catalog of electronic textbooks through June 30. Students and instructors can log in to the VitalSource Bookshelf app using their school email addresses to view course materials from participating publishers via VitalSource’s Explore capabilities. Visit VitalSource’s website to see a list participating publishers and resellers, or to find answers to frequently asked questions.

OpenStax, a nonprofit based at Rice University in Houston, Texas, is offering free access to 38 digital textbooks and 28 of OpenStax’s online homework providers through the end of the spring term. Homework providers include Knewton Alta, Lyryx, panOpen, Top Hat, and Varify. OpenStax’s own low-cost online homework offerings, OpenStax Tutor and Rover by OpenStax, also will be offered for free through the end of the semester.

In April, app virtualization and delivery firm Software2 announced that it would make licenses for its AppsAnywhere technology free for 90 days. AppsAnywhere allows students to access specialist university software wherever they are, on any device, on or off-campus. The technology—which works on PC, Apple, or Chromebook devices—allows apps to run at the same speed as if they were fully installed locally. The organization has also offered to remotely install and configure the AppsAnywhere software and provide support for users as they familiarize themselves with the technology.

Peregrine Global Services is offering free access to leadership development books and leadership booklets, all published by its publishing division Peregrine Pathways, through the end of 2020. The books include Leadership Foundations, Leadership Essentials, Hiring, and Leading Organizations; the booklets include a “Leader’s Guide” and a “Senior Leader Toolbox.” All are provided in PDF format. Those interested can send a query to [email protected].

The online asynchronous conversation platform Yellowdig is offering its platform free of charge to AACSB-member institutions. The platform is designed to sustain student engagement in online learning formats. Watch this video to learn more, send a query to [email protected], or request a demo.

Capsim is offering all instructors its standalone team evaluation tool, TeamMATE, free of charge until June 2021. This online, self-directed assessment is designed to help educators monitor and enhance team dynamics in online settings.


Project Management Institute (PMI) is now offering project professionals the ability to schedule and take their Project Management Professional (PMP) exam online from their homes or offices using Pearson VUE’s OnVUE online proctored testing software. The institute also offers two other certification exams online: the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner and Certified Associate in Project Management. For information about scheduling an online proctored exam, click here.

ProctorU will offer uninterrupted online proctoring services to more than 800 college campuses. Proctor U is working with ETS to for both the English proficiency TOEFL iBT test and GRE General Test, both of which were made available for online testing in mid-March.

TopHat is currently making its remote test proctoring service available to professors for free, for all courses that have been transitioned to online. Direct access is available to professors at institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Universities in other parts of the world will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The company also has published a blog post on “5 Essential Strategies for Creating Collaborative Remote Classrooms" and a free resource titled "The Ultimate Guide to Online Teaching."

On May 1, the Graduate Management Admission Council opened its Executive Assessment Online tool for registration. The tool provides a way for business schools to virtually assess the career readiness of professionals while testing centers remain closed. Executive Assessment Online is the same as the exam administered in test centers. Testing appointments began on May 5, and appointments for test dates currently run through June 30.

Professional Development:

SAGE Publishing also is offering free access to resources for faculty to help them transition to teaching online, including electronic textbooks, SAGE Vantage courseware, and resources that can be imported to several learning management systems. In addition, the publisher is offering faculty free 90-day trials to several Sage Business & Management resources, and it will fast-track and publish accepted academic articles that are relevant to the current pandemic, without article publishing charges.

Bisk Education, an online learning company based in Tampa, Florida, is making its Best Practices for Effective Online Instruction training program available for free to faculty and institutions worldwide. The self-paced training program covers essential instructional design principles for online course development, effective ways to engage learners online, and strategies for bringing a course online rapidly. Faculty can sign up online to have free access to the course through June 30.

Video capture company Sonic Foundry has created specific webinars to help schools build a repository of online, on-demand educational materials through use of its Mediasite platform. The company is offering discounted three-month quick-start initiatives, including free unlimited Mediasite personal capture software licenses to record or upload video from anywhere and personalized intensive training. It also will offer 1,000 hours of content with unlimited viewing in Mediasite Video Cloud. Click here to learn more.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has made its Digital Fitness app available to the public. The app now includes new professional and personal resources designed both to keep users informed of COVID-19 developments and help them adapt to remote work and educational formats. Those interested can download the Digital Fitness app from the Apple App Store or Google Play using the code “PWCDFA.”


Hivebrite, a community management and engagement platform, is making its donation module free to all customers for a period of time, as well as introducing a virtual meeting feature within its Events module to support the management of successful online communities. Hivebrite is offering customers access to its Standard Donations module, which allows organizations to run one campaign and one fund. The fee-based module supports the building and branding of multiple campaigns.

Alumni Support:   

Alumni network platform Graduway is offering institutions free access to its Business Directory throughout the pandemic period. The directory can provide alumni an opportunity to garner added visibility for their businesses' products and services. The company asks those interested to fill out this form on its website.

Mental Health & Wellness:

Sharpen, a mental health content and technology company, has made its Sharpen Colleges mobile and desktop app for free to all college students until August 31. Sharpen collaborates with licensed mental health providers to offer students tools to manage feelings of depression and anxiety, which affect college students at a higher rate than the general population—a scenario that is exacerbated by COVID-19 quarantine guidelines. These tools include self-help information, techniques, and guidance. The content is offered in the voices and perspectives of students themselves. 

Wisdo is an emotional wellness self-care platform that guides users through a series of topics that represent consequential life events to determine whether they have “Been There” or are “There Now.” Users can identify themselves as either potential mentors or people who need guidance. Next, users can select up to three goals for emotional growth and mental wellness. Using this information, Wisdo introduces each user to seven people with insights on their goals and experience, including four “Been There” peers, two professional coaches, and a safety agent. Students in the U.S. and the U.K. who visit Wisdo and sign in with an .edu or email address will receive six months of free access.