Boundless

Guest Post: Boundless Invites You to Write the Future of Education

Jane Park, October 15th, 2014

The following is a guest post by Ariel Diaz, Founder and CEO of Boundless, a platform for the creation of open textbooks that are community-built and CC BY-SA-licensed.


boundless concept
Boundless / CC BY-SA

By empowering a dedicated community of contributors in open resources, Creative Commons has given education a strong foundation for creating and sharing content. Beyond the broadly touted affordability and accessibility benefits of open resources, the flexibility these resources offer makes them practical for students and educators everywhere. Now, Boundless is leveraging the power of these open resources and the community to write the future of educational content — and we invite you to join us!

Universal access to education is a right

The wealth of Creative Commons licensed content is core to our efforts at Boundless to make access to high-quality educational content a universal right. All of our content is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license — which gives us a great combination of openness and flexibility, and assures that derivative works stay in the Commons so others can benefit.

Boundless offers content in more than 20 introductory-level college subjects for free on our website and mobile app. Using the CC BY-SA license on our content means an educator can use an article about Long-Term Memory, for example, as content in their classroom and adapt it for their syllabus. Students will save money by using open resources, and educators can share their customized version of that content with the greater Boundless community for further re-use.

principles of microeconomics
Boundless / CC BY-SA

Open content succeeds because of a powerful community

We’re seeing a transition in educational publishing from physical to digital. This transition has been slowed by a conservative industry and lack of great products, but we’re now in a time where entrepreneurs, educators, and more are challenging the status quo to create better teaching and learning opportunities. This gives us an opportunity to create communities of learners, educators, and content creators to build a better, more effective learning experience powered by open content.

I believe that open content succeeds because of its powerful community. The educators, researchers, and more who are motivated to share their work with others keep the flow of education materials moving to benefit their teaching and learning communities. The power of this community means we can challenge the status quo in education — and no longer tolerate static, expensive resources.

Over the past three years, the team at Boundless has worked with an internal community of hundreds of subject matter experts to create and curate open resources for our library of 21 subjects. This foundational content has served more than 3 million students and educators.

We’re committed to not only providing universal access to this content, but also building a collaborative, powerful community to create more content. That’s why I’m proud to share that we’ve brought on one of community education’s biggest advocates as a new Boundless advisor: SJ Klein, a veteran Wikipedian. SJ says,

“Tapping the minds of the teaching community brings great power to educational content. I look forward to working with Boundless as its community grows, not just to create more freely-licensed material, but to provide greater access to it, and make it personalizable.”

SJ is helping us grow and hone our cloud-powered community — so Boundless can do to textbooks what Wikipedia did for encyclopedias.

Write the future of education

For the first time, Boundless is opening up our platform to empower a community of educators and open resource supporters to create, improve, and share educational content. And we’re inviting Creative Commons supporters to help us write the future of education.

The new Boundless cloud-powered community allows for collaboration across disciplines, so contributors can create, edit, and customize content. All content created or customized uses a Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA) to ensure a greater distribution across platforms — making universal access to education a right, not a privilege.

Be part of the future of education by joining our community!

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How Boundless uses CC licenses

Cable Green, August 8th, 2013

Boundless_Logo_TextSide

As the open educational resources (OER) movement continues to grow, students and educators alike can benefit from openly licensed content. The use of Creative Commons licenses in education has allowed learning resources to travel farther, reach more people, and be repurposed to meet local needs.

I recently spoke with Ariel Diaz, CEO of Boundless learning about how his company utilizes Creative Commons CC licenses. This is a summary of our conversation.

So how does Boundless use Creative Commons licenses?

“Creating high quality textbooks is no easy task. It would have been impossible for Boundless to create close to 20 subjects worth of open textbooks without the availability of openly licensed content. While we can also use information that is in the public domain, the license on the content we predominantly use is called Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA). CC BY-SA allows us to tweak and build upon the work of others, even for commercial purposes, and we are required to license our derivative works under the same license terms. To maintain a connection to the original author, we give attribution/credit and mark our content with the same license.

“To create our open textbooks and study tools, our team of expert “Edcurators” find the best content that is openly licensed. They revise and remix the best parts of the best content so that it is aligned with the key concepts of a corresponding traditional textbook for subjects like Marketing, Chemistry, and Writing. In other words, we take openly licensed content and add our own layer of pedagogy (important because our audience is students) and copy editing (important because students deserve to have materials written in a consistent voice that is fit for their grade level). Once the curating process is finished, we’ve officially crafted a resource that helps students at over half the colleges in the U.S. excel. Our educational content is openly available to all students anywhere in the world.”

Why are Creative Commons licenses important to Boundless?

“Creative Commons has revolutionized the process of sharing information. Open resources available under a CC license broadens the distribution of knowledge, allowing people of different ages, socioeconomic statuses, and geographic locations to share and benefit from high quality content. It’s amazing to be part of this revolution.

“In addition to helping us find, curate, and remix high-quality educational content, the CC license helps us stand up for an important belief core to our mission: educational resources should be free and openly licensed.

“We make good on this belief by freely posting our open textbooks on the web, without any registration required. Any student, educator, or self-learner can access, quote, and remix our textbooks for their own purposes thanks to the CC BY-SA license. Openly licensed educational resources means that digital textbooks like ours will continue to improve over time, allowing students the chance to unlock the knowledge they deserve.”

Where can I access Boundless textbooks?

“In addition to the web, Boundless is has released these books for free in one of the world’s most popular ebook stores: the iBookstore (with Kindle support coming soon). The company’s iBooks include titles like Boundless Introduction to Marketing, Introduction to Statistics, and Introduction to Writing. Students can now access Boundless’ high-quality, college-level content online, offline, on any device, at anytime. The Boundless App is available for free from the App Store on iPhone and iPod touch.”

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Boundless, the free alternative to textbooks, releases its content under Creative Commons

Jane Park, January 22nd, 2013

boundless logo

Boundless, the company that builds on existing open educational resources to provide free alternatives to traditionally costly college textbooks, has released 18 open textbooks under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA), the same license used by Wikipedia. Schools, students and the general public are free to share and remix these textbooks under this license. The 18 textbooks cover timeless college subjects, such as accounting, biology, chemistry, sociology, and economics. Boundless reports that students at more than half of US colleges have used its resources, and that they expect its number of users to grow.

Boundless has an entire section explaining open educational resources (OER) and how they use them. However, you can easily see how it works for yourself by browsing one of their textbooks directly. For example, see their textbook on Biology. At the end of each chapter, sources are cited as a list of links where you can find the original material:

boundless biology chapter

This chapter on Organismal Interactions references a Wikipedia article and several articles in The Encyclopedia of Earth. If you follow these links, you will find that the original articles are OER governed by the same CC BY-SA license.

From Boundless’ FAQ,

Is it really free? How does Boundless make money?

Absolutely. Boundless books are 100% free with no expiration dates like textbook rentals or buybacks at the bookstore. It starts with Open Educational Resources. In the future, Boundless will implement some awesome optional premium features on top of this free content to help students study faster and smarter.

As you can see in the screenshot above, Boundless is already rolling out some of those premium features, including flashcards, study guides, and quizzes. To access these features Boundless requires a free user account. The textbooks themselves are completely open, without registration required, and are accessible at boundless.com/textbooks/.

For further reading, we recommend Slate’s article entitled, “Never Pay Sticker Price for a Textbook Again – The open educational resources movement that’s terrifying publishers.” It does a fantastic job of placing the company’s aims in the context of the current publishing ecosystem.

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