Rice University-based nonprofit OpenStax, which already provides free, high quality, openly licensed textbooks to nearly 1.5 million college students per year, is partnering with Open University’s UK Open Textbooks initiative to bring OpenStax’s textbooks to the United Kingdom.
The yearlong project is funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation as part of its commitment to supporting learning resources that students can download, edit and share. The work is part of an ongoing OpenStax initiative to make its open-textbook model available to students around the globe. OpenStax’s textbooks are expected to save U.S. students more than $145 million in the 2017-2018 academic year, and the publisher is hopeful that its approach can have a similar impact on U.K. students.
“Our goal is to bring affordable course materials to as many students as possible, so international expansion is an exciting and intuitive next step for us,” said OpenStax Managing Director Daniel Williamson. “By its nature, openly licensed content is meant for adaptation. This project will allow us to research which pieces of our model work well in an international context and which pieces can best be adapted to meet the specific needs of U.K. students.”
“The data suggests there is a great and growing need in the U.K. for more books like those published by OpenStax,” said Weller, professor of educational technology at the Open University. “We’ll be exploring how textbooks are chosen by U.K. instructors, what kind of messages resonate with U.K. audiences, how faculty adapt open content to meet their needs and what parts of OpenStax’s process can be generalized for initiatives in other countries. This partnership will help us develop the most-effective strategies for getting resources in the hands of as many students as possible as quickly as possible.”
Another early step will be identifying existing communities of U.K. academics and institutions that have already adopted open education resources (OER) like OpenStax’s free textbooks. For example, OpenStax books are already used in more than 100 courses in the U.K. Williamson said early adopters will be a valuable source of feedback as the initiative looks at what U.K. instructors hope to gain from open texts.
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