OpenStax, OER Commons partner on community hubs

Rice, OpenStax, OER Commons logos

Sites will allow instructors to download, post, modify materials for free textbooks

Rice University-based publisher OpenStax is partnering with OER Commons to provide online community hubs where instructors can freely share and modify syllabuses, homework, study guides and other open-copyright course materials that are made specifically for each of the free textbooks in OpenStax’s growing catalog.

Community hub from OpenStax and OER Commons

Rice-based publisher OpenStax is partnering with OER Commons to provide online community hubs where instructors can freely share open-copyright course materials made specifically its free textbooks. (Image courtesy of OpenStax)

OpenStax has 25 titles, and more than 1.5 million college students have used its books, which will save them an estimated $70 million during the 2016-17 academic year. OER Commons, operated by the nonprofit Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME), is a dynamic, digital public library that offers tools for collaboration, sharing and remixing openly licensed course materials. Serving more than 5 million users, OER Commons is curated by full-time librarians and features tools for evaluation, quality review and improvement of high-quality resources. Users of the OpenStax community hub also have access to over 100,000 items across OER Commons’ resource libraries that can be used to supplement their own teaching and learning materials.

“OpenStax books are now used by thousands of faculty, and we learn everyday about an impressive array of resources that are being developed to support our texts,” said Richard Baraniuk, founder and director of OpenStax and Rice’s Victor E. Cameron Professor of Engineering. “Our users are taking advantage of our open license to build lecture slides, video lessons, assessments and more to help their students succeed. We’re proud to partner with OER Commons to build the OpenStax hub so that these free, open materials can be accessed by users all over the world, just like our books.”

September 2016 Infographic about OpenStax titlesOpenStax launched in 2012 with two titles and a unique OER business model: Use philanthropic grants to produce high-quality, peer-reviewed textbooks that are free online and low-cost in print.

“This partnership is about more than free books, tools and materials,” said Lisa Petrides, CEO and founder of ISKME. “This is about empowering instructors to make a difference in their own classrooms and in the lives of their students. The partnership provides instructors with a truly collaborative environment where they can remix and rework course content from a national library of supplementary materials that add a new dimension to teaching, courses and OpenStax textbooks to bolster student learning.”

ISKME launched OER Commons in 2007. The digital public library and collaboration platform offers a comprehensive infrastructure for curriculum experts and instructors at all levels to identify high-quality OER and collaborate around their adaptation, evaluation and use to address the needs of all learners.

Richard Baraniuk

Richard Baraniuk

Baraniuk said the OpenStax hub at OER Commons and the hub’s specific groups for individual OpenStax titles have been active for a few weeks. “This grew from the grassroots,” he said. “Instructors have been offering us their OER materials and asking us where to find more OER. We expect these hubs to become a major part of our offerings.”

OpenStax titles include Algebra and Trigonometry; American Government; Anatomy and Physiology; Astronomy; Biology; Chemistry; Chemistry: Atoms First; Calculus, volumes 1-3; College Algebra; Concepts of Biology; Principles of Economics; Principles of Macroeconomics; Principles of Macroeconomics: For AP Courses; Principles of Microeconomics; Principles of Microeconomics: For AP Courses; Microbiology; College Physics; College Physics: For AP Courses; Prealgebra; Precalculus; Psychology; Introductory Sociology 2e; Statistics; U.S. History; and University Physics, volume 1.

University Physics, volumes 2 and 3, are coming this fall, and OpenStax has begun production on Elementary Algebra, Intermediate Algebra and Business Statistics.

About Jade Boyd

Jade Boyd is science editor and associate director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.