OpenStax, Rice Online Learning offer suite of free resources


David Ruth

Jade Boyd

OpenStax, Rice Online Learning offer suite of free resources
Rice organizations offer professional-quality resources for AP® physics courses

HOUSTON — (July 13, 2016) — Two of Rice University’s leading open education initiatives — open education resource textbook publisher OpenStax and digital education portal Rice Online Learning — today released a comprehensive set of free online resources for Advanced Placement® physics courses for high school students.

College Physics for AP® Courses

Image courtesy of OpenStax

The free OpenStax-Rice Online Learning collection comprises College Physics for AP Courses; a peer-reviewed textbook approved by Learning List, an Austin-based instructional review service; concept video trailers with engaging, high-quality videos produced by a Hollywood studio that introduce key physics concepts; and instructional videos featuring Rice professor Jason Hafner and AP® physics teachers Matt Wilson and Gigi Nevils. Also available are videos with Hafner, Wilson and Nevils that show students how to work problems found in College Physics for AP Courses. The collection is available online at

OpenStax publishes free textbooks that have saved U.S. college students more than $68 million since 2012, and Rice Online Learning offers open courseware through edX, Coursera and Canvas platforms to learners around the world and to Rice students, including two multipart series that help prepare students for both the AP® Physics Exam 1 and AP® Physics Exam 2.

The AP Program® was created by the College Board to offer college-level curricula and examinations to high school students. Most four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. recognize AP® in their admissions process and grant students credit, placement or both on the basis of successful AP® exam scores.

“Thousands of students take the AP® physics exams each year,” said Caroline Levander, vice president for strategic initiatives and digital education, the Carlson Professor in Rice’s School of Humanities and professor of English. “The collaboration between OpenStax and Rice Online Learning allows us to provide high school students and teachers with a complete set of easily accessible resources to help them prepare for the AP® physics exams.”

“When I was informed of OpenStax through AP® training this past summer, it was a bucket of ice water in the desert,” said Jeremy Raper, a science and engineering teacher at Bob Jones High School in Madison, Ala. “I have used the book each day in class, and I have shared it with students to use for homework and preparation for the AP® test.”

A report by Learning List showed that OpenStax’s textbook and materials and Rice Online Learning’s videos are nearly 100 percent aligned with AP®. OpenStax’s book was written after the College Board revamped its AP® physics curriculum in 2013. The update places more emphasis on key foundational principles of physics and less on memorization. The changes, which included splitting the old AP® Physics B exam into two new exams, AP® Physics 1 and AP® Physics 2, have led many AP® physics instructors to search for new resources that are aligned with the new curriculum. OpenStax and Rice Online Learning’s materials meet that need and are free.

David Harris, OpenStax editor-in-chief, credited the book’s close alignment to the contributions of advisers like University of Tennessee professor Peggy Bertrand, an AP® physics instructor who had previously served as curriculum co-chair the College Board’s AP® Physics Development Committee.

“The new AP® curriculum for physics is a great advance, and I became involved with OpenStax to help ensure that AP® physics instructors would have access to a well-written and well-aligned textbook that also happens to be free, easy to access and easy to adopt,” Bertrand said.

Kevin Chadwick, a physics teacher who started using OpenStax College Physics for AP textbook in his class when it became available last year at St. John XXIII College Preparatory in Katy, Texas, said it “is particularly helpful in that the College Board learning objectives are listed at the beginning of each chapter, which helps keep students focused on exactly what is necessary to prepare for the AP® exam.”

“Having a recently updated book for each student is vital,” Raper said. “They enjoy the pictures, because they are current, relevant and high-quality. The book also has well-worded problems, application topics beyond physics, AP® practice problems for each chapter, and the student solution manual is of great benefit. We now look forward to incorporating the videos OpenStax and Rice Online Learning have made available to us and our students.”

OpenStax’s other AP titles, Principles of Macroeconomics for AP Courses and Principles of Microeconomics for AP Courses, are also peer-reviewed and available as iBooks. Rice Online Learning also provides the AP Physics 1 course on edX that aligns with the AP Physics Collection.

OpenStax is made possible by the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the 20 Million Minds Foundation, the Maxfield Foundation, the Calvin K. Kanzanjian Foundation, the Bill and Stephanie Sick Fund and the Leon Lowenstein Foundation.

Editor’s note: Some of the references to AP in this release do not have the registered trademark symbol because the College Board does not permit its use in the titles of third-party materials.


A high-resolution image is available for download at:
CAPTION: College Physics for AP Courses is one of the first three peer-reviewed AP titles from Rice University-based publisher OpenStax.
CREDIT: OpenStax

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AP® is a trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, OpenStax peer-reviewed AP® textbooks.

About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.