Mike Eddleman

Partnership to develop free education resources for nursing students

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, OpenStax launching O.N.E. project for students

OpenStax nursing

HOUSTON – (Jan. 19, 2023) – The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and Rice University's OpenStax are building on their existing partnership to address staffing shortages in the nursing profession and reduce financial barriers for nursing students. In collaboration with postsecondary institutions in Texas and educational partners nationwide, OpenStax will launch a comprehensive free online curriculum for nursing education in spring 2024. 

Eight peer-reviewed textbooks will be available through the OER Nursing Essentials (O.N.E.) project on OpenStax.org and the THECB's statewide open educational resource repository, OERTX, where faculty communities can connect and collaborate on the materials. The O.N.E. project group on OERTX will provide a space for users to join and engage in ongoing collaboration and receive updates.

The nursing industry is facing a significant shortage of professionals. A 2022 study by McKinsey estimates there will be as many as 450,000 unfilled positions in the U.S. by 2025, and another published in 2017 in the American Journal of Medical Quality estimates more than 510,000 unfilled positions by 2030.

OpenStax nursing

“Nursing students and faculty face a multitude of challenges,” said Denise Neill, department head and director of the Department of Nursing at Texas A&M University-Commerce. “One is high course-materials costs, which can be a significant barrier to entering the profession. We learned throughout the pandemic how crucial it is to adapt and improve instructional practices. Dynamic, high-quality open educational resources have the potential to address both issues — increasing access and improving teaching and learning."

The development of the O.N.E. project builds on previous OER-centered partnerships and collaboration between the THECB and OpenStax to grow and sustain the open educational landscape in Texas and beyond. THECB invested $5.2 million for this project through the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund.

“To meet the growing demand for nurses across Texas, we must support our nursing schools in innovating the design and delivery of their programs,” said Texas Commissioner of Higher Education Harrison Keller. “This initiative will be an invaluable resource for nursing education across Texas and beyond - with high-quality, flexible and affordable resources that leverage the expertise of leading faculty.” 

Combined with the THECB Division of Digital Learning’s broad portfolio supporting open educational resources through grants, professional learning academies, research efforts and the statewide OERTX repository with over 369,000 users, the O.N.E. project embodies the collaborative power of open education. Textbooks will cover the following subjects: Fundamentals of Nursing, Maternal-Newborn Nursing, Medical-Surgical Nursing, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing, Community-Population Nursing, Pharmacology, Nursing Skills and Nutrition — courses taken by approximately 300,000 students each year in the U.S.

OpenStax prioritizes accessibility and inclusive design to ensure that all learners have equal opportunities to understand, interact and belong in their learning environments. Beyond textbooks, the organization also provides other high-quality, easy-to-use and openly licensed educational resources at scale. 

“A key focus of the program is diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Rice President Reginald DesRoches. “OpenStax is committed to recruiting authors, developing examples and illustrations, and creating supporting materials that help to create a more supportive learning environment for nursing students." 

In the 2021-2022 school year alone, approximately 6.5 million students and 36,000 educators across more than 140 countries used OpenStax materials as their primary learning resource. Since 2012, OpenStax has saved students more than $1.8 billion in education costs.