OpenStax, OER Commons partner on community hubs

Rice, OpenStax, OER Commons logos

David Ruth

Jade Boyd

OpenStax, OER Commons partner on community hubs

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

HOUSTON — (Oct. 11, 2016) — 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.


High-resolution IMAGES and an INFOGRAPHIC are available for download at:
CAPTION: 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)
(Courtesy of OpenStax/Rice University)
CAPTION: Richard Baraniuk (Photo by Jeff Fitlow/Rice University)

More information is available at

Related OpenStax news from Rice:

More than 1.5 million students have used OpenStax’s free textbooks — Sept. 27, 2016

Top 10: Which colleges save the most with free textbooks? — Aug. 1, 2016

Eleven schools selected for national OpenStax partnership program — July 6, 2016

OpenStax, NACSCORP to offer low-cost textbook customization — March 3, 2016

OpenStax already saved students $39 million this academic year — Jan. 20, 2016

This release can be found online at

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About Rice University
Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,910 undergraduates and 2,809 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to

ISKME is an independent, education nonprofit whose mission is to improve the practice of continuous learning, collaboration and change in the education sector. Established in 2002, ISKME supports innovative teaching and learning practices throughout the globe and is well known for its pioneering open education initiatives. ISKME’s OER Services enable educators across the globe to collaboratively curate, create, and localize high quality education content that is aligned and adapted to their own teaching and learning environments. ISKME also assists policy makers, foundations, and education institutions in designing, assessing, and bringing continuous improvement to education policies, programs, and practice. For more information, visit

About OpenStax
OpenStax is dedicated to improving access to higher education by lowering the cost of textbooks and high-quality learning materials. Launched in February 2012 with a philanthropic model to offer free, high-quality, peer-reviewed, full-color textbooks for the 25 most heavily attended college courses in the nation, OpenStax provides books free online for any student, anywhere. OpenStax also partners with companies and organizations that provide both free- and fee-based products and services that enhance the value of its books for both instructors and students. OpenStax is a nonprofit initiative of Rice University and is made possible by the generous support the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold 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. For more information, visit 

About Jade Boyd

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