Saturday, January 5, 2013
Free Online Texts with Boundless
For the Spring semester, I worked with Boundless (http://boundless.com) to create a FREE, online text for the HS6 Systems "Social, Political & Economic Dimensions of Community" course. This course currently uses three text books, two online and one paperbound. One of the online texts had been a free open source text from Flatworld Knowledge, for which they are now charging $19.99 or $34.99, depending on the package of tools the student purchases. I am not sure how students who receive book vouchers can purchase these resources.
Boundless uses open source material (including wikipedia) which it curates using experts (many of whom are graduate and doctoral students) to ensure the accuracy of the content. Usually a student goes to them, tells them the text assigned by the faculty and receives a customized boundless book that covers the same content. Many standardized texts are in their system. In this case, I went to boundless with the three texts for this course and the course outline. With a staff person from boundless, I looked through their content in political science, sociology and economics and indicated the text that I needed and they placed it in a easily accessible online packet, that matches the course outline, for the students. If you want to look at it go to: https://www.boundless.com/schools/metropolitan-college-of-new-york/courses/social-political-and-economic-dynamics-of-communities/. You will have to set up a free account. Students will also be able to highlight, take notes, create study guides.
While it currently is designed to work only online, I have discovered that on a mac I can print to pdf to get pages in printed form. I have also recommended to boundless staff that they develop a means of downloading so that students can read when offline. Some of the student tools can be mailed to them as pdf files.
Some more traditional courses may be able to use Boundless content out of the box. You can check out the subjects and content available on the educators page: https://www.boundless.com/educators/.
Now I have to go and update the syllabus and the moodle shell for Monday's class.
I will be soliciting feedback from students throughout the semester about their use of this tool and would like to hear from others about their experience with this tool.
(Please note, this content was previously sent as an email to faculty and administrators on 1/5/13)