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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wiley, OpenStax Make Strange bedfellows

John Wiley & Sons Inc. is in business to make a profit off the educational material it produces, while OpenStax College is a nonprofit organization that provides open educational materials (OER) to college students online for free. Those two very different approaches make their announced partnership seem odd at first glance.

The companies are going to collaborate on two new biology textbooks created by OpenStax College. The arrangement calls for Wiley to deliver the OpenStax content through its WileyPlus online environment, with Wiley trying to turn a profit by adding value to the content though its interactive learning tools.

“OpenStax College and Wiley are breaking new ground by working together to broaden access and add value to high-quality OER content,” said Joe Heider, senior vice president of Wiley Global Education, in a press release announcing the partnership. “By integrating OpenStax content with WileyPlus practice and assessment resources, this partnership gives students the option of paying a reduced price for a personalized experience that is proven to improve learning outcomes.”

The partnership also provides a way for Wiley to offer an introductory college biology text without developing one of its own. Some chapters of the OpenStax material are already online. The remainder are expected to be completed in the fall when Wiley will begin pilots for the WileyPlus college biology products.

“As I understand it, their mission is to improve the accessibility of affordable educational materials, and we actually share that goal,” Kaye Pace, vice president and executive publisher at Wiley, told Information Week. “We would like to offer students more attractive pricing.”

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