The rapid development of open-source online platforms has not only altered the traditional idea of access to high quality education but also left the traditional college textbook industry facing a real challenge given that its competitors provide comparable material free of charge.
This year the 2011 WISE Awards Winner Connexions launched OpenStax College, a program that seeks to improve student access to quality learning materials by providing free e-textbooks for five of the most-attended college courses in the US. Eventually, the books will be available in translations to broaden their impact worldwide.
Developed at Rice University and backed by the Hewlett Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the 20 Million Minds Foundation, and the Maxfield Foundation, OpenStax College will publish its first two books – College Physics and Introduction to Sociology – in March. The books will be available for free via computers, tablets, and smartphones. A print-on-demand feature will make it possible for students and colleges to order low-cost print copies.
OpenStax textbooks are developed and peer-reviewed by educators to ensure they are readable, accurate, and meet the scope and sequence requirements of the course in question. The organizers believe the programs could save students $90 million in the next five years if the books capture 10% of the American market.
Access and find out more about OpenStax College here.