Connexions, now called OpenStax, is a global repository of educational content provided by volunteers. The platform is provided and maintained by Rice University. The collection is available free of charge, is available for remixing and editing, and is available for download in various digital formats.
Founded in 1999 by Richard Baraniuk, Connexions is based on the philosophy that scholarly and educational content can and should be shared, re-used and recombined, interconnected and continually enriched. As such, it was one of the first Open Educational Resources (OER) initiatives along with projects such as MIT OpenCourseWare and the Public Library of Science. The materials in Connexions are available under a CC-BY Creative Commons license.
Connexions contains educational materials at all levels—from children to college students to professionals—organized in small modules that can be connected into larger courses. Material is authored by people from all walks of life. Much content is created by university professors, but the collection also contains very popular music content created by a part-time music teacher.
Connexions popular material is translated into many languages, aided by the open-content licensing.
To ensure the legal reusability of content, Connexions requires authors to license materials they publish under the Creative Commons Attribution License (presently, version 3.0). Under this license, the author retains the right to be credited (attributed) wherever the content is reused. The author grants others the right to copy, distribute, and display the work, and to derive works based on it, as long as the author is credited.
Features of Connexions
- Connexions has content from all over the world in a growing variety of languages, not just materials from one specific school or university. It also collects materials to support education in K-12, community college, university, continuing education, and industrial training settings.
- Connexions is globally accessible to anyone to not only read and use the materials, but also take them, customize them, and contribute them back to the repository or not.
- Connexions is grassroots organized from the bottom up rather than from the top down like many other open education projects. Everyone is free to join and take on a leadership role.
Three key factors enable the collaborative environment in Connexions:
- Copyright licenses that preserve attribution but permit sharing: Creative Commons "attribution" licenses
- Semantic markup of documents using XML (extensible markup language) so they can be searched for and combined. The markup language used is called “CNXML”.
- Workspaces that facilitate collaboration by providing shared space, the ability to version materials and derive content from existing modules.
The Connexions project was started in 1999 and initially supported by individuals and Rice University. That support has been substantially supplemented by grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
- OpenStax College, a library of free and open college textbooks hosted in Connexions
- Creative Commons, the organization that created the licenses used by Connexions
- Open educational resources, the idea that educational resources can be shared in general through copyleft or other free culture movement licenses
- Open textbook
- China Open Resources for Education
- Flat World Knowledge
- Free High School Science Texts South Africa
- Khan Academy
- MIT OpenCourseWare
- National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning India
- Tufts OpenCourseWare
- Wikiversity, a Wikimedia Foundation project, devoted to learning materials and activities
- Wales, Jimmy; Baraniuk, Rich (22 January 2008). "Bringing open resources to textbooks and teaching". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- Kelty, C. M. (2008). Two bits. Duke University Press.
- "The Basic Elements of Music". Retrieved 30 November 2010.
- "Throw away your school books: here comes textbook 2.0". CNN.com. 8 November 2007.
- Cohen, Noam (14 September 2008). "Don’t Buy That Textbook, Download It Free".
- "CNXML – Connexions Markup Language". Retrieved July 31, 2010.
- "Open-source software developed and used by Connexions". Rhaptos Software Homepage. Retrieved July 4, 2009.
- "OpenStax CNX: About Us". Retrieved 27 November 2014.
- "Connexions wins $2M from Hewlett Foundation" (Press release). Rice University Press Release. 15 May 2008.