Connexions is a dynamic digital educational ecosystem consisting of an educational content repository and a content management system optimized for the delivery of educational content. Connexions is one of the most popular open education sites in the world. Its more than 17,000 learning objects or modules in its repository and over 1000 collections (textbooks, journal articles, etc.) are used by over 2 million people per month. Its content services the educational needs of learners of all ages, in nearly every discipline, from math and science to history and English to psychology and sociology. Connexions delivers content for free over the Internet for schools, educators, students, and parents to access 24/7/365. Materials are easily downloadable to almost any mobile device for use anywhere, anytime. Schools can also order low cost hard copy sets of the materials (textbooks).
Information is often presented to us linearly, but the way we learn is most often by making connections between new concepts and things we already know. Connexions content is modular for easy remixing. This makes it easier and more cost effective to update and adapt content. Modular content varies in length at the author’s discretion and typically consists of a single idea or topic. These modules or ideas are woven into collections. Collections can be textbooks, courses, journals, etc.
The Connexions architecture and software tools have been designed to support the frictionless remixing of the content repository. The knowledge in Connexions can be shared and built upon by all because it is reusable:
- technologically: all modules are save in a simple and standardized XML format. Connexions XML data structures make the content easily remixed within Connexions or distributed via any platform and remixed with other content. We have built in accessibility features to our XML languages to ensure all content in the repository can be read by everyone.
- 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. The content in Connexions repository is all licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). CC-BY is one of the most open licenses available, allowing Connexions content to be freely mixed with all other types of content. The Connexions software maintains attribution to the original author for you, making remixing of content a cinch.
- educationally: We encourage authors to write each module to stand on its own so that others can easily use it in different collections and contexts. Instructors then use a collection editor/creator to weave modules into customized collections specially designed to meet the needs of their students.
- collaborative: A global community of authors continuously converts and adapts information in the Connexions repository. Connexions promotes communication between content creators and provides various means of collaboration through author feedback and shared Work Areas. Collaboration helps knowledge grow more quickly, advancing the possibilities for new ideas from which we all benefit.
Connexions delivers complete sets of educational course materials and textbooks in many different formats. Materials are available for students to access 24/7/365. Students can:
- view over the internet for free
- download free PDFs to use off-line on their computers
- download free EPUB versions of the content for use on e-readers and mobile phones
- order low cost hard copy sets of the materials (textbooks) as well.
Anyone can contribute content to the Connexions repository. Once content is entered, Connexions’ lensing system provides a mechanism by which trusted/knowledgeable vetters review and endorse content. Users can then view content through vetted lenses, which provides a simple means of quality control, yet allows for the capture of the intellectual capital of the world. More information can be found under the Lenses tab.
In July 2009, the Connexions Consortium was formed for interested organizations to participate in the development and growth of Connexions. The international consortium is comprised of over 20 members from countries such as China, India, South Africa, the Netherlands, and Vietnam. Members come from the for-profit as well as the non-profit sectors. The Consortium consists of Universities, Community Colleges, Foundations, and NGOs. More information can be found at http://cnxconsortium.org.
Along with the Consortium, Connexions' major support has come from Rice University, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Maxfield Foundation, and Twenty Million Minds Foundation. Connexions has also received support from the Shuttleworth Foundation, National Instruments, the National Science Foundation, and Open Society Foundation.
Connexions’ open-source software, Rhaptos, is a fully developed content delivery platform that supports all types of educational content, everything from traditional textbooks to the latest interactive game-based multimedia content. The platform’s technology and licensing structure facilitate frictionless remixing which allows users to customize content to meet the needs of individual teachers and learners. Connexions’ endorsement system (Lenses), allows school systems and districts to retain control over any modifications, thus maintaining the academic integrity within their systems.
Enterprise Rhaptos, a downloadable version of Connexions’ Rhaptos software, allows entities to run Connexions’ powerful content management software independently of the global open repository. Enterprise Rhaptos allows entities to develop and operate customized repositories and adapt licensing structures to meet their individual needs. These entities can use the web 2.0 features of Enterprise Rhaptos to capture the intellectual capital of their institutions while maintaining the highest level of content quality through the use of Enterprise Rhaptos’ Lenses feature. For more information on Enterprise Rhaptos see http://enterpriserhaptos.org.
Learn about other ways to join our growing community or contribute to development: join us!
If you want to get started using Connexions, visit the Help tab for up to date references, tips, and information for learners, teachers, educational institutions, and more. Or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org/