In 2009, we started a project to support the learning of university-level sciences, called Teaching Tools in Plant Biology. Articles in this series are published by the plant science journal The Plant Cell (published by the American Society of Plant Biologists). Five years on, we investigated how the published materials are being used through an analysis of the Google Analytics page views distribution and through a user survey. Our results suggest that this project has had a broad, global impact in supporting higher education, and also that the materials are used differently by individuals in terms of their role (infrastructure, independent learner, student) and geographical location. We also report on our ongoing efforts to develop a global learning community that encourages discussion and resource sharing.