Richard Baraniuk founded Connexions — now called OpenStax — a free, open-source, global clearinghouse of course materials. Students and educators tap into its vast store of texts on everything from engineering to ornithology to music, adapting the content as they see fit.

Why you should listen

Rice University professor Richard Baraniuk has a giant vision: to create a free global online education system that puts the power of creation and collaboration in the hands of teachers worldwide. He's realizing that vision with OpenStax (formerly named Connexions), a website that allows teachers to quickly "create, rip, mix and burn" coursework -- without fear of copyright violations. Think of it as Napster for education.

OpenStax's open-source system cuts out the textbook, allowing teachers to share course materials, modify existing work and disseminate it to their students -- all for free, thanks to Creative Commons licensing. Baraniuk envisions OpenStax as a repository where the most up-to-date material can be shared and reviewed (it's far more efficient than waiting for a textbook to be printed); it could become a powerful force in leveling the education playing field. Currently encompassing hundreds of online courses and used by a million people worldwide, Baraniuk's virtual educational system is revolutionizing the way people teach and learn.

What others say

“[Baraniuk] is trying to reshape the way academe uses both peer review and publishing. The project also has hopes of becoming a major curricular tool at community colleges.” — Inside Higher Ed

Richard Baraniuk’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Richard Baraniuk

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