We’ve hit the big one-zero! This year, Kortext celebrates 10 years of pioneering digital innovation in higher education through digital textbooks and cutting-edge content discovery and learning platforms – and what a journey it’s been!
Led by CEO James Gray, Kortext sprang to life in 2013. Inspired by a founding team who have collectively spent many years within the higher education sector, James founded Kortext with a vision to enable and enrich the higher education of tomorrow and help all students fulfil their potential through digital teaching and learning solutions.
Developing partnerships with organisations across the sector, including tech giants like Microsoft and Samsung, government departments including the NHS, and early adopter university customers such as the University of Manchester, Middlesex University and the University of East London, Kortext went from strength to strength. By 2018, it had become the UK’s leading supplier of digital textbooks and educational resources to the HE sector, provided through the Kortext Arcturus eBook and smart study platform.
The pandemic hit the education sector hard, but also set in motion a new digital revolution worldwide, accelerating adoption of accessible EdTech solutions like Kortext to allow learning to continue during lockdown. Leveraging our key publisher partnerships, Kortext responded to the pandemic with the Free Student eTextbook Programme (FSTP), making thousands of digital textbooks and other essential resources available to students for free at over 140 UK universities.
Fast forward to today and Kortext is leading the way for digitally enhanced teaching and learning in the global education community, with offices in multiple countries and business representatives all over the world.
In a recent case study, Prof. Peter Rodgers, MBA Director at Southampton Business School, commented:
“We have an excellent ongoing relationship with Kortext. It was a very timely partnership for us. I’m not naturally comfortable with tech, but their support has been first-class and friendly. I know if I have an issue, I can communicate it with them openly and it will be resolved straight away.
“Before their induction, students have lots of questions about how to prepare for their course and what books they need to buy. We can now say to them, ‘You don’t need to buy them, they’re already in your digital library on the Kortext Arcturus platform.”
We’ve adapted and grown with the everchanging HE landscape and our achievements are testament to that. Here are 10 of the best…
Kortext’s top 10 achievements in higher education:
- Platform relaunch
Roll back to summer 2022 which saw the relaunch of the Kortext platform as Kortext Arcturus. This reengineered iteration of our digital textbook and smart study platform, named after the brightest star in the Northern Hemisphere, is fast, secure, intuitive and offers a personalised study experience for all users.
Add to this our vast and growing digital content inventory (including 4m+ eBooks, OERs and videos from over 4,700 publishers), and Kortext Arcturus offers the broadest selection of digital learning content available in the market today. Don’t forget to sign up for the Kortext Open Resources Collection – our curated collection of more than 11,000 digital textbooks and academic titles available for HE and FE institutions.
- 2,300 universities
To date, the Arcturus platform is used by students at over 2,300 institutions worldwide, including 85% of Russell Group universities. That’s millions of students benefitting from fair, equitable and easy access to their course content.
- CLA Digital Content Store
In 2016, Kortext delivered the Digital Content Store (DCS) for the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA), helping to streamline university library workflows by providing a searchable repository of digitised books, journal extracts and born digital content. The online system helps universities manage copyright compliance while giving students the ability to read this content within the Kortext eReader, complete with access to the smart study tools.
- Top supplier on UK procurement frameworks
Over the years, we’ve gained industry trust by providing a consistent, reliable and best value service. That’s why Kortext is the ‘highest scoring’ supplier on Lot 5 of the SUPC framework for eTextbook supply in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We are also the ‘first ranked’ supplier on Lot 5 LIB1016 AP for eBooks, eBook Collections and eTextbooks, for FE and HE institutions in Scotland. Between them, these two frameworks cover the whole of the UK.
- Launch of KeyLinks
KeyLinks, used by over 30 universities and colleges, is the fast growing reading list management system developed by Kortext, working with both university customers and the CLA. Launched in 2018, the KeyLinks system is the most cost effective tool available for course list content curation and management, aligning with standard library acquisition workflows and delivering added features for students and academics.
- Launch of the Kortext app
In 2016, we launched the Kortext Windows app in the Microsoft store and have since developed native apps across all key operating systems; Mac, iOS, Android, giving students the flexibility to access their digital textbooks and learning resources anytime, anywhere, through all their devices, both on and offline. Download the Kortext app today through your device’s app store.
- Student Minds partnership
According to the Student Money Survey 2022, 82% of UK university students have considered dropping out, with 60% citing mental health as the reason.
The research is clear, students are struggling and we need to work together in partnership to offer support to students where we can. This is why we have partnered with Student Minds, the student mental health charity, two years running.
By including a direct link to Student Minds’ online support hub, Student Space, through the Kortext student bookshelf, we can ensure students in distress have access to mental health support at the point of need. Additionally, we are able to point students to specific local campus support where available.
- Free Student eTextbook Programme: essential digital textbook supply during the pandemic
Remember 2020? While universities worked painstakingly to stop education from coming to a grinding halt, we joined forces with Jisc, Microsoft and a host of supporting publishers to launch the Free Student eTextbook Programme (FSTP), offering all 180+ universities in the UK and Ireland, as well as many more overseas, free access to critical textbook content during the pandemic.
This feat was officially recognised at the Digital Education Awards where Kortext scooped Team of the Year in 2021. A representative from the awards commented, “Kortext’s growth has been nothing short of phenomenal, and its people must have had to work extremely hard to adapt to such a rapidly changing environment.”
- Serious certifications
From 2019 – 2020 Kortext was truly going for gold, achieving Aspire Gold Certification for our commitment to accessibility on the Kortext Arcturus platform, and becoming a Microsoft Gold partner, proving our commitment to excellence, leveraging Microsoft products and technologies for the benefit of our partner universities and their students.
- Learner analytics and student support
2022 saw the start of a new chapter for Kortext when we took the step of welcoming Solutionpath into the Kortext family, joining together Kortext’s engagement analytics with Solutionpath’s sector-leading learner analytics capability. The work since then has been focused on enabling the combined analytics capability to help universities quickly identify students at risk of failing their courses or dropping out, and helping personal tutors to begin conversations with students early to offer to get students back on track.
- Platform relaunch
Last year saw significant growth for Kortext, including securing over 20 new partner universities such as Anglia Ruskin University, University of Westminster and the University of Southampton.
Kortext CEO and Founder, James Gray, said:
“The last decade has brought with it challenges, successes and surprises in equal measure. No one could have foreseen the effect of the pandemic, the subsequent shift to digitally enabled teaching and learning, and the impact that would have on students, academics and whole institutions. Looking forward, we’re eager to see how higher education will evolve and, indeed, how digital technology will continue to embed itself in the learning landscape.
“Our vision remains the same as always, to enable and enrich higher education of tomorrow and help all students fulfil their potential through the use of our cutting-edge platforms and technologies. This is why we’re continuing to invest in new and exciting teaching and learning tools, tapping into the latest technology and the power of artificial intelligence to further improve the experience for universities and their students.”
We would like to take this opportunity to recognise the contribution of our incredible team, past and present, our industry partners and our partner universities who have helped shape who we are today.
It’s been an exciting 10 years, friends, so here’s to the next 10!