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Connexions Philosophy

Module by: Jonathan Emmons. E-mail the author

Summary: This module provides a CNXML-based version of the Connexions Philosophy page ( It describes our motivation for doing what we do the way we do it.

Connexions is an environment for collaboratively developing, freely sharing, and rapidly publishing scholarly content on the Web. Our Content Commons contains educational materials for everyone - from children to college students to professionals - organized in small modules that are easily connected into larger collections or courses. All content is free to use and reuse under the Creative Commons "attribution" license.

Content should be modular and non-linear

Most textbooks are a mass of information in linear format: one topic follows after another. However, our brains are not linear - we learn by making connections between new concepts and things we already know. Connexions mimics this by breaking down content into smaller chunks, called modules, that can be linked together and arranged in different ways. This lets students see the relationships both within and between topics and helps demonstrate that knowledge is naturally interconnected, not isolated into separate classes or books.

Figure 1
representation of Connexions as a machine

Sharing is good

Why re-invent the wheel? When people share their knowledge, they can select from the best ideas to create the most effective learning materials. The knowledge in Connexions can be shared and built upon by all because it is reusable:

  • Technologically: We store content in XML, which ensures that it works on multiple computer platforms now and in the future.
  • 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.
  • Educationally: We encourage authors to write each module to stand on its own so that others can easily use it in different courses and contexts. Connexions also allows instructors to customize content by overlaying their own set of links and annotations. Please take the Connexions Tour and see the many features in Connexions.

Collaboration is encouraged

Just as knowledge is interconnected, people don't live in a vacuum. Connexions promotes communication between content creators and provides various means of collaboration. Collaboration helps knowledge grow more quickly, advancing the possibilities for new ideas from which we all benefit.

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