How a University Took on the Textbook Industry | EdSurge News

“This kind of free online textbook was novel in 1999 when Rice professor Richard Baraniuk started gathering them online for students and faculty around the world to use. As demand for low-cost, high-quality materials increased during the Great Recession, the nonprofit project shifted from curation to creation, publishing its first five free textbooks in 2012.

Today, OpenStax—part tech startup, part publishing house, part cognitive science research lab—has a library of three dozen titles. By the nonprofit’s estimates, more than half of U.S. colleges use at least one. And some credit it for helping kick-start a trend—now known as open educational resources, or OER—that has sent shockwaves through the traditional publishing industry….”

BNED and OpenStax Partner to Expand OpenStax Catalogue of Open Educational Resources | Business Wire

Barnes & Noble Education, Inc. (NYSE: BNED), a leading provider of educational products and services solutions for higher education and K-12 institutions, today announced a deeper partnership with OpenStax™, the Rice University-based publisher of open educational resources (“OER”). Beginning Fall 2019, OpenStax will include the Business Law textbook from BNC OER+ (formerly known as LoudCloud Courseware) in its catalog of open educational resources, which are available to all educators at no cost. The expanded partnership between the companies for such content collaboration will further drive affordability and accessibility for students nationwide….”

Open-access chemistry textbooks gain popularity

“In October 2018, the US Department of Education gave LibreTexts, an OER portal based at the University of California, Davis, a $4.9 million grant to develop free, open textbooks in targeted subjects, including chemistry. The goal for the chemistry materials is to develop resources that will enable schools to offer an ACS-approved bachelor’s degree with zero cost for textbooks. ACS evaluates programs to determine whether they meet the guidelines established by the society’s Committee on Professional Training. The consortium developing LibreTexts includes 11 institutions beyond UC Davis, plus the California State University system. The consortium and its predecessor, ChemWiki, previously received funding from the US National Science Foundation….

Professors who want to use LibreTexts can use the existing materials as is, or they can mix and match the various textbooks available to make their own. The consortium currently contains 61 chemistry textbooks, 58 of which are in English and 3 of which are in Spanish.

Brett McCollum, a chemistry professor at Mount Royal University, in Canada, adopted LibreTexts for one section of his general-chemistry class in 2015. After a successful trial run, his department adopted it for all sections of both semesters of general chemistry the following year….

Rather than linking to existing LibreTexts pages, McCollum replicates those pages on his own course pages within LibreTexts and edits them to fit the focus of his class. “Having that freedom to tailor the book was really valuable to me,” he says….

McCollum envisions a future with most OER development funded by governments. In Canada, most provinces already have an OER initiative, he says. “Canada sees this as an important path forward for equity and for enabling students from diverse backgrounds to engage more fully in higher education,” McCollum says. “We have a vision of sharing nationally and internationally” the materials from the OER initiatives….

One thing that differentiates OpenStax from commercial publishing is the OER provider doesn’t need to constantly release new editions of its books to keep ahead of a used-book market. OpenStax books are available free to students electronically or for a nominal cost if a student prefers to have a printed version….”

2.2M Students Used OpenStax Free Textbooks in 2018

OpenStax, a nonprofit based at Rice University that publishes free online peer-reviewed textbooks, reports that more than two million students at U.S. colleges used at least one of its textbooks during the 2017-2018 school year. The nonprofit also estimates that students saved $177 million using the free textbooks in the 2017-2018 year. The increased use of of OpenStax textbooks comes as the AAP reported that sales of higher education course materials fell 7.2% in 2018.

According to OpenStax, its textbooks are in use at 48% of U.S. colleges and were used by 2.2 million students in 2017-2018. OpenStax textbooks, which are part of the larger Open Education Resource movement for free educational resources, have been used by more than 6.2 million students since it began publishing its own textbooks in 2012. OpenStax has published 32 free textbooks….”

10/31/18: Daniel Williamson’s 10-year retrospective – OpenStax

“My path to OpenStax was a convoluted one. I went to Rice University to study opera performance, but like many students I had a change of heart somewhere along the way. Luckily, I had also been working as a technologist throughout college, doing website design and development for faculty. When I graduated in 2008, in the height of the recession, I was fortunate enough to have one of my supervisors recommend that I look into working at Connexions – the predecessor to OpenStax.

I joined the team as a content manager, thinking that this would be a good interim job where I could learn some new skills while I figured out what I was going to do with my life.

I quickly realized that I was working with brilliant people looking to solve a very interesting problem: how to democratize access to publishing and increase the availability of knowledge….”

The Argonaut – UI celebrates Open Education Week as movement to adopt open resources picks up pace

“With the beginning of every new semester, one thing never seems to change — college textbooks are expensive, heavy, mostly required and often useless. At the University of Idaho, many are trying to do their part to ease that burden and Open Education Week is an attempt to demonstrate that. ASUI President Max Cowan said signing onto a partnership with OpenStax is one step forward the university has made this semester …”