Connexions and other free textbook projects

By mikelove, published at 10 May 2007 - 8:12pm, last updated 10 years 27 weeks ago.

I blogged at SmartMobs about the site Connexions with an interesting slant: modular chunks of texts with Creative Commons open licenses that can be made into customizable textbooks. Yahoo search blog posted Richard Baranuik's presentation on Connexions at TED 2006.

Most textbooks are a mass of information in linear format: one topic follows after another. However, our brains are not linear - we learn by making connections between new concepts and things we already know. Connexions mimics this by breaking down content into smaller chunks, which we call modules, that can be linked together and arranged in different ways. This lets students see the relationships both within and between topics and helps demonstrate that knowledge is naturally interconnected, not isolated into separate classes or books.

  • technologically: we store content in XML, which ensures that it works on multiple computer platforms now and in the future.
  • legally: the Creative Commons open-content licenses make it easy for authors to share their work - allowing others to use and reuse it legally - while still getting recognition and attribution for their efforts.
  • educationally: we encourage authors to write each module to stand on its own so that others can easily use it in different courses and contexts. Connexions also allows instructors to customize content by overlaying their own set of links and annotations.

MIT OpenCourseWare
Global Text Project