Monday, April 30, 2012

OpenStax Helps Steamline Open Ed

It seems there’s news of another open education resource (OER) initiative every other day. All show promise at providing students with quality material at little or no cost. Now, Rice University has launched its OpenStaxCollege program to make the process easier for students and faculty.

“We realized that if the open ed movement was ever going to go mainstream, it needed to cross this chasm, and it needed to evolve in a way that isn’t just focused on sharing,” said Richard Baraniuk, the Rice professor who founded the open education initiative Connexion, in Campus Technology. “There needs to be a focus on creating quality, turnkey, adoptable solutions.”

The answer to Baraniuk is free materials written by professional content developers, that go through peer and classroom review, and include ancillary items such as PowerPoint presentations, tests, and homework keys. Faculty using the materials are urged to report errors they can be constantly updated and can customize the information to suit their needs.

“The problem is that there’s not enough open ed recourses in people’s hands yet,” he said. “We first need to get books into people’s hands; then we can get faculty on board with customizing their books. Ultimately, we’ll be moving from a world of better access and cheaper materials to a world of vastly improved learning outcomes.”

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