(04/24/12) Jennifer Demski
Large-scale open education initiatives have the potential to transform the environment of higher education by creating a learning landscape that spreads beyond the walls of the university. However, wide-scale adoption of open education resources remains slow. "There are all of these open ed depositories, but you can't easily mix and match across platforms, let alone search across them," says Rice University professor Richard Baraniuk. He notes that faculty bandwidth is another issue. Rice's OpenStax College initiative was created to help streamline access to open education resources. "We're trying to address the highest impact community college courses, as defined by the total number of students enrolled in a particular course multiplied by the average cost of that course's materials for the student," Baraniuk says. The Web versions of the OpenStax textbooks were built on the Connections XML platform, which enables instructors to add new material to the book, or edit the material in the book. Baraniuk says the platform also is highly accessible for students with disabilities, and all of the content in the books is semantically marked up. "Ultimately we'll be moving from a world of better access and cheaper materials to a world of vastly improved learning outcomes," he says.
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