March 23, 2020 – Future of Work

OpenStax: Helping Students “Learn More … Faster”


“There is a better way to do this.”

That was the motivation behind OpenStax, a Rice University project that produces peer-reviewed textbooks and makes them available to students online and free of charge. Textbook prices had been rising since the 1960s, which meant thousands of students were being shut out because they simply could not pay.

There had to be a better way—and there was.

With the help of more than one dozen philanthropic organizations, including the Charles Koch Foundation, today more than 56 percent of degree-granting institutions in the United States use OpenStax. The availability of these resources has helped more than nine million students get a college education.

Now OpenStax is entering a new phase of digital learning. Using artificial intelligence, the organization is developing responsive textbooks that will create customized questions and generate feedback as students are learning. Daniel Williamson, managing director of OpenStax, explains, “We are creating a series of textbooks that learn from you as you learn from them, and then adapt to your individual needs and preferences as a student.” In addition, OpenStax has opened its platforms to dozens of innovative technology providers.

All so students can “learn more … faster.”

There is more. As COVID-19 has upended classroom instruction all across the globe, OpenStax has rushed to help arm college and university students with the tools they need to learn, and to empower professors to continue to teach.

Over the last several weeks, OpenStax has worked with its partners, courseware providers, and independent bookstores to ensure more students have access to free online textbooks through the end of spring 2020 term. Students also will have access to OpenStax Tutor and Rover by OpenStax, the organization’s courseware offerings, for free through at least May. More information about these resources is on OpenStax’s blog.

Even before students were forced to move online because of COVID-19, OpenStax estimated that its free tools would save students more than $1 billion. And, because of organizations like OpenStax, for the first time in more than five decades, there is evidence that textbook prices are declining.

Want to learn more? Click here to view a new video explaining how students will use OpenStax now … and in the future.