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OpenStax College To Deliver New Biology Texts

OpenStax College will launch a pilot for its two new biology textbooks--for majors and nonmajors--this fall.

Rice University-based OpenStax College uses philanthropic support to produce textbooks with a "rigorous development and review process," according to a release, that are intended for free use. Its first two books, introductory texts for physics and sociology, were adopted by educators at more than 100 schools and downloaded more than 30,000 times in their first six months, according to the release.

The organization has partnered with Wiley to deliver the materials via the online learning, practice, and assessment resources of WileyPlus.

Pilot testing of the introductory biology textbooks will begin this fall, when the texts are also scheduled to be available for classes. The companies stated in a release that they will work with colleges and instructors to set up pilot tests of the new textbooks and WileyPlus resources, and that this community effort will enhance the effectiveness and usability of the final product. Chapters are currently available online for preview.

Joe Heider, senior vice president of Wiley Global Education, said in a release that prices for WileyPlus services regarding the two courses have not been set, but inclusion of the free books could significantly reduce costs to students.

"OpenStax College and Wiley are breaking new ground by working together to broaden access and add value to high-quality OER (open education resources) content," Heider said in the release. "By integrating OpenStax content with WileyPlus' practice and assessment resources, this partnership gives students the option of paying a reduced price for a personalized experience that is proven to improve learning outcomes."

OpenStax College launched in February 2012 with a philanthropic model to offer free, high-quality, peer-reviewed, full-color textbooks for the 25 most heavily attended college courses in the nation. Its books are free online for any student, anywhere, and OpenStax College partners with companies who provide fee-based products and services in an effort to enhance the value of OpenStax books for both instructors and students. OpenStax College is a nonprofit initiative of Rice University with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the 20 Million Minds Foundation, and the Maxfield Foundation. For more information, visit openstaxcollege.org.

John Wiley & Sons, founded in 1807, is headquartered in Hoboken, NJ, with operations in the United States, Europe, Asia, Canada, and Australia.

About the Author

Kevin Hudson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached at sportswryter@yahoo.com.

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