The Textbook Commons

Every few years, the idea of a repository of freely distributed "learning modules" or "learning assets" rises up as a solution to the time spent developing course content for instructors, or the cost to students in purchasing text books filled with common knowledge. The most well-known of these efforts is perhaps MERLOT, but often the information shared is hobbled by the latest technology taking the focus away from the intellectual content.

Lately the idea has taken hold again, and this time seems to be gathering some steam. Rather than focusing on the technologies, the efforts now seem to be focusing more on the content itself. One example is from the creators of Wikipedia, called WikiBooks. The purpose of WikiBooks is to create free, public-domain text books through a collaborative writing effort, similar to the way Wikipedia works. It may have some of the same flaws as Wikipedia, since anyone can edit any page the information is suspect.

A more promising example is Connexions from Rice University:
Connexions allows instructors at many institutions to create modules of content that can be mixed and matched or combined into useful complements to any course. All of the content in Connexions uses a Creative Commons license to retain some copyrights while opening the content to free use and redistribution. The idea is to approach textbooks as you would a playlist of music, and since authorship is clear the content is more reliable. You can see the list of authors at

Content from Connexions is easily used by linking to it in Sakai, eCompanion or Blackboard (and until it disappears next academic year, WebCT), or by downloading the PDFs and uploading them to your course site.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Joseph Delaney published on November 29, 2006 10:53 AM.

RefWorks - Research and Bibliography Tool was the previous entry in this blog.

Textbook Commons - additional resources is the next entry in this blog.

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