Open Educational Resources

New OER-Based Learning Platform Provides Alternative to Traditional Textbooks

PanOpen is tackling the textbook affordability challenge with a new learning platform based exclusively on open educational resources (OER). The platform combines OER content with tools such as content customization, LMS integration, self-grading quizzes, note-taking, real-time chat and data analytics.

While panOpen can be used for any subject, it offers enhanced, interactive "pillar" resources in the areas of history, chemistry, economics, physics, biology, psychology, business and finance. (Additional pillar courses are in development, according to the company.) All content can be freely downloaded, printed and shared.

Faculty can access, edit and contribute content at no cost. Students pay a flat subscription fee per course for perpetual access, which, panOpen estimates, amounts to a 75 percent cost reduction compared to traditional textbooks.

Other features include:

  • LMS integration and gradebook syncing;
  • Data and reporting analytics;
  • Tools such as self-grading quizzes, note-taking, highlighting capabilities, flashcards and real-time chat; and
  • A revenue-sharing model that incentivizes authors, faculty adapters and editors, and technology partners.

Currently, panOpen boasts nearly 100 pilot programs in higher education institutions across the country. As Jeremy Nicholson, biology instructor at piloting institution South Plains College, commented in a press release, "Most students cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars on textbooks every year. Instead, they opt to purchase cheaper, out of date textbooks, or no books at all. Using high-quality open educational resources, we can ensure that every student has access to a current text that is integrated into the curriculum, while saving them a significant amount of money."

For more information, visit the panOpen site.

About the Author

About the author: Rhea Kelly is executive editor for Campus Technology. She can be reached at rkelly@1105media.com.

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