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OpenStax CNX

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OpenStax CNX
(Connexions 1999-April 2014)
Type of site
Open Educational Resources
Available in34 languages
OwnerRice University
RevenueFoundation-funded non-profit
Launched1999 (1999)
Current statusDiscontinued
Content license
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

OpenStax CNX, formerly called Connexions,[1] is a global repository of educational content provided by volunteers. The open source platform is provided and maintained by OpenStax, which is based at Rice University. The collection is available free of charge, can be remixed and edited, and is available for download in various digital formats.[2]

Founded as Connexions in 1999 by Richard Baraniuk, OpenStax CNX 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, which means that content can be used, adapted, and remixed, as long as attribution is provided.[3] In June 2020, the CNX platform was retired. Its contents remain available on the Wayback Machine.[4]

Subject matter[edit]

OpenStax CNX contains educational materials at all levels—from children to college students to professionals—organized in small modules (pages) that can be connected into larger collections (books). Material is authored by people from all walks of life. Much content is created by university professors,[5] but the collection also contains very popular music content[6] created by a part-time music teacher.[7]

OpenStax CNX material is translated into many languages, aided by the open-content licensing.


To ensure the legal reusability of content, OpenStax CNX requires authors to license materials they publish under the Creative Commons Attribution License[8] (presently, version 4.0). 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 OpenStax CNX[edit]

  • OpenStax CNX 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.[7]
  • OpenStax CNX 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.
  • OpenStax CNX is a 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.[2]

Technical details[edit]

Three key factors enable the collaborative environment in OpenStax CNX:

  • Copyright licenses that preserve attribution but permit sharing: Creative Commons "attribution" licenses[8]
  • Semantic markup of documents using XML (extensible markup language) so they can be searched for and combined. The markup language used is called "CNXML".[9]
  • Workspaces that facilitate collaboration by providing shared space, the ability to version materials and derive content from existing modules.[10]


The Connexions project was started in 1999[11] and initially supported by individuals and Rice University. That support has been substantially supplemented by grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Woodward, Ed (April 3, 2014). "New Name and New Editor Demo". OpenStax CNX Developer Blog. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  2. ^ a b Wales, Jimmy; Baraniuk, Rich (22 January 2008). "Bringing open resources to textbooks and teaching". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  3. ^ Kelty, C. M. (2008). Two bits. Duke University Press.
  4. ^ Williams, Daniel (February 7, 2020). "Saying goodbye to CNX and hello to the next chapter!". openstax.org. Archived from the original on 2020-08-13.
  5. ^ Wales, Jimmy; Baraniuk, Rich (2008-01-22). "Bringing open resources to textbooks and teaching". The San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2008-01-31.
  6. ^ "The Basic Elements of Music". Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  7. ^ a b "Throw away your school books: here comes textbook 2.0". CNN.com. 8 November 2007.
  8. ^ a b Cohen, Noam (14 September 2008). "Don't Buy That Textbook, Download It Free". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "CNXML – Connexions Markup Language". Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  10. ^ "Open-source software developed and used by Connexions". Rhaptos Software Homepage. Archived from the original on July 24, 2009. Retrieved July 4, 2009.
  11. ^ "OpenStax CNX: About Us". Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  12. ^ "Connexions wins $2M from Hewlett Foundation" (Press release). Rice University Press Release. 15 May 2008. Archived from the original on 20 August 2009.

External links[edit]

  • OpenStax CNX homepage, cnx.org
  • TED Talk Founder Richard Baraniuk discussing Connexions in February 2006