open textbook

Open textbook initiative goes global

Rice University-based OpenStax partners with UK Open Textbooks.

“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.”

OpenStax uses philanthropic grants to produce high-quality, peer-reviewed textbooks that are free online and used in more than 8,500 courses at 4,200 colleges and universities. According to UK Open Textbooks researcher Martin Weller, one of the first things the project will examine is how U.K. institutions and courses differ from their American counterparts. The project will work with OpenStax and the Open Textbook Network to investigate whether these successful models in the U.S. can be adapted to the UK.

“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.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione