Page 40 - Campus Technology, May/June 2019
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FEATURE Open Educational Resources
the University of Minnesota, the content has to fit specific criteria: It must be openly licensed; it must be a complete textbook; it must be in use at multiple higher education institutions; and it must be original.
What we like: Linguistics is a big topic here. Among the new textbooks listed in the col- lection are numerous volumes dedicated to the grammar of languages spoken in small corners of the world, including Yauyos, Yakkha, Papuan Malay, Palula and Rapa Nui.
The Orange Grove
Florida’s OER repository covers higher ed as well as K-12. The former offers 2,200 “learn- ing units” (including textbooks) all compiled by Florida Virtual Campus, a state-funded provider of K-20 courses. Resources include rich descriptions and come mostly from the state’s 40 colleges and universities.
What we like: The social sciences selection includes 52 resources covering economics, a topic designated by Priceonomics as the most expensive college subject for buying textbooks.
Project Gutenberg
You’ll find 58,000 free digital books here, including the “world’s great literature,” along with other works considered less great but whose copyrights have expired. A continually updated list of the top 100 books download- ed during the previous day reels off titles like a freshman’s reading list.
What we like: The site uses volunteer “dis- tributed proofreaders” who get a single page of scanned text to compare to a correspond- ing OCR-created version of the same page; eventually, after they’ve proofed the new page, made corrections and returned it to a “post-processor,” the completed pages are reassembled into a digital book format.
Saylor Academy Open Textbooks
The nonprofit behind this project works with institutions to provide free college-credit pathways for students, to accelerate their degree attainment. Textbooks focus on a broad array of subjects, from accounting to writing and communication.
What we like: Each chapter in the Saylor texts opens with “learning objectives” and concludes with “key takeaways” and “exercis- es,” allowing instructors to quickly identify rel- evant topics from the books and slipstream those segments into their own curriculum.
Skills Commons
The days of OER focusing mostly on English and math subjects are long gone. This digital library specifically addresses the need for workforce training materials. The content is developed in partnership with local industries, reviewed by sub- ject-matter experts and free for anybody to use.
What we like: Where else would you find textbooks covering such diverse topics as agricultural data management, healthcare reporting and landscape lake sampling?
Like its fatter cousin, Wikipedia, much of the content in this collection of 3,051 books is work in progress. The advantage of the site is that it includes arcane subjects that might not appear elsewhere but are still easily findable.
What we like: The organization of the site allows you to quickly drill down from the home page subject headings to subsections and onto specific “shelves,” listing completed books, those nearing completion, those “half-finished,” and so on.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for Campus Technology.

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