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The Impact of Open Textbooks at OpenStax College

Cable Green, July 8th, 2013

OpenStax College, an initiative of Connexions, the open educational resources (OER) authoring project at Rice University, is creating high-quality, peer-reviewed open textbooks. All of OpenStax College’s books, including the art and illustrations, are available under the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY), allowing anyone to reuse, revise, remix and redistribute the books.

The first two OpenStax College books were published in June of 2012, and since then Introduction to Sociology and College Physics have been downloaded over 110,000 times, used by more than 1.5 million unique online learners, and adopted at over 200 schools. These adoptions represent real savings for over 30,000 students in classes around the world. OpenStax College estimates that it has saved these students more than $3 million (USD) so far.

OpenStax isn’t stopping there. Biology and its corresponding book for non-majors, Concepts of Biology, and Anatomy & Physiology have now been released and are ready for use in classes in the fourth quarter of 2013.

OpenStax College recently received grants to complete six more books from several major foundations, including the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Kanzanjian Foundation and Lowenstein Foundation. The next phase will feature Introduction to Statistics, Pre-Calculus, Principles of Economics, U.S. History, Psychology, and Chemistry. These books are entering production now and are scheduled to be released by the end of 2014.

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IEEE teams up with Connexions to deliver high-quality, peer-reviewed engineering OER

Timothy Vollmer, December 3rd, 2010

Rice University’s Connexions and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Signal Process Society (IEEE-SPS) recently announced the release of a set of open educational resources on signal processing. The materials allow engineering instructors to mix and match to build customized courses, textbooks and study guides, and are useful for practicing engineers for their own education and career growth. The high-quality resources are peer-reviewed and available for free on the Connexions IEEE-SPS portal.

From the press release:

While the open-education movement has grown rapidly in recent years, critics have questioned how open-access publishers can ensure the quality of freely authored and edited materials. An oft-proposed option is adapting peer review — the process academic researchers have used for centuries to vet and certify research papers and books.

“All materials must pass thorough a rigorous quality evaluation before they appear on the IEEE Signal Processing Society’s branded portal in Connexions,” said Roxana Saint-Nom, chair of the society’s Connexions Lens Subcommittee.

This collaboration is one of the first between a major professional society and an open educational resource provider.¬†Connexions is one of the largest¬†repositories of OER in the world, and all its materials are available under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license.¬†IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional organization, with over 395,000 members.

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Digital Research Tools (DiRT) Wiki Launched

Jane Park, June 6th, 2008

Thanks to The Wired Campus, I recently stumbled across this new wiki whilst looking for a visualization tool for a ccLearn research project. The new wiki is called Digital Research Tools, also known as DiRT. DiRT is edited by a team of librarians from Rice University’s Digital Media Center and Sam Houston State University’s Newton Gresham library. Basically, DiRT reviews the myriad research tools available for free (and some for profit) on the internet in a human-readable way, so that “professors, students, think-tankers, corporate intelligence gatherers, and other inquisitive folks [can] do their work better.” These “snapshot reviews” are immensely helpful for even seasoned researchers, since the web is always popping up with new open source tools. To see a list of tools in DiRT’s queue and to add your own, check out their del.icio.us page.

So far, the reviews cover tools that allow you to analyze texts, author interactive works, collect and visualize data, conduct linguistic research, and more. All current and future reviews are licensed CC BY.

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