This site offers textbooks online for free or in print for a nominal fee. The texts are peer-reviewed and meet the scope and sequence requirements of many courses. OpenStax can be personalized and provide analytics to teachers. The texts are available in a variety of formats (read online, offline, PDF, ePub). Users can browse by author, subject, list, etc.
Type of Material:
Schools that would like to lower textbook costs for students.
Any device with Internet access
Identify Major Learning Goals:
There are no learning goals specific to what this site offers. Each textbook would have goals established specific to the content of the text.
Target Student Population:
High school and higher education
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Good resource to help with integration of literacy (Common Core) into most subjects. This can be a source for text/modules in languages other than English for those needing resources for ESL, ELL, and practice during the learning of other languages. The site provides textbooks to high schools at low-cost for print and free for online use.
This review is based on the parent site, Openstax, as the K-12 portion is being developed and there is a plan for a pilot to begin Fall 2015. Many texts are currently available for high school use/adoption.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
It is easy to access literature in order to incorporate Common Core and/or literacy aspects into lessons or to enhance learning. Teachers could utilize access to works to supplement school’s/own/student’s personal collections to expand reading choices to integrate into most subjects. Texts can be adopted to replace hard copy versions. The service allows for student interaction with instructional material; material can be set up to allow for student to work at own pace; It is set up in logical organization for ease of navigation through the material. Search box is available to enter specific content/topic/author desired.
Students can access texts digitally. There are supplemental materials like PowerPoints and test banks available associated with some of the textbooks.
It appears that to use the interactive features of the textbook you must be using an iPad. Materials are not all of the same quality. Be sure to preview materials.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Teachers can review copies for free, request complimentary hard copies, have students try one chapter – there are free test packages; the site allows for viewers to offer insight into possible corrections needed. These can be customized for specific use, students can customize own text cover. The site offers possible savings to schools, utilizes Creative Commons licensing. Android and iTunes apps. It is easy to access online, text-based, PDF, or multiple e-reader versions for use in all contents. These can be used during introduction of new concept or reviewing/application of material already presented. Teachers can also adopt internet-accessible modules to accompany the text.
There was no way for the user to go back to the table of contents or beginning of chapter without using the scroll bar. There should be links on the page to go back.
The initial web page indicates that users should sign up for free accounts, but users can access materials without it. It would be helpful for users to know that.
Other Issues and Comments:
Openstax K-12 is part of Openstax which has 3 main components: Tutor (beta), College, and CNX library. Tutor currently has items for some specific college classes (user can search to find current courses) many of which seem to be STEM-based at this time. College has many searchable textbook and module items for faculty and student use. CNX library is collection of texts and modules which are organize din chunks or collections. It is currently divided into 6 categories: Arts, Business, Humanities, Mathematics & Statistics, Science & Technology, and Social Sciences. Each of the 6 categories indicate number of texts found within.
There are donation screens that appear, but users can decline.
Actual review of K-12 initiative cannot be completed until pilot begins.
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