Startups hope to move textbook market by promoting mix-and-match of courseware

A new startup wants to move the textbook market by making it easier for professors to adopt courseware created in colleges and universities rather than professional textbook publishers. The solution is this: create a new marketplace where teachers can find them.

The main premise of Lexington, a mass-based company called Argos Education, is that the way textbooks are created and modified is for reset. That is, it wants to help create an open-source system that allows professors to combine online course materials from a variety of sources and offer their own materials for sale to colleagues around the world.

Co-founder Michael Feldstein believes that creating a common, open source platform for distributing courseware can help make materials cheaper for students and help professors continually improve their teaching.

“Universities should buy and sell courseware from each other,” says Feldstein, a longtime Adtech consultant who also runs popular blogs. eLiterate.

Argos calls its Courseware Platform and Marketplace Sojourner and aims to create a hub for professors and students to create, assign and use digital curriculum materials, allowing rich analysis for professors, showing them how their students are using the materials.

Feldstein said, “You can almost think of it as a self-publishing system like Amazon plus the Amazon Kindle Store plus the Amazon Kindle Reader software.” “You can create content, you can sell it, you can adapt it, you can offer it.”

When authors choose to sell content, Argos will reduce revenue.

The platform will be built on open source software and materials already developed by universities मुख्य primarily a combination of Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative platform, called Taurus, And online literature from the Rizon State University Center for Education through Exploration, says ETX. The leaders of the two projects have agreed to jointly build the next generation courseware platform, as well as a set of standards, which will be the basis of Sojorner.

“One of the current challenges in the adaptive courseware space is that we have not been able to find a working market,” says Norman Beer, director of the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon. “Argos is … layering on a service. They’re trying to create a market for adaptive courseware.”

In many ways, Carnegie Mellon’s OLI project has created adaptive curriculum models, software that guides a student through educational materials, and changes what each student shows next based on how well the student has done so far. In recent times Blog post, Feldstein noted that OLI has launched a whole new market segment for textbooks, inspiring professional publishers, including Pearson, Sengage and Willie, who are now growing in their adoption.

Since the outbreak, Carnegie Mellon has seen an increase in people using OLI courseware. There were 82,000 enrollments last academic year, compared to 55,000 the previous year, Beer says. But the market can help drive it further, he added.

For its part, ASU’s ETX project has taken a slightly different approach to what it calls its guided experience or “immersive, interactive virtual field trip”. Over the years ASU Group has built this customized experience on the commercial platform sold by Smart Sparrow. But last year, Pearson bought the Smart Sparrow property, which led ASU to find an alternative platform to offer its offerings, which was also growing in use.

The system will also draw on some OER textbook materials developed by OpenStacks, a low-cost publisher at Rice University.

Feldstein argues that creating a shared, open-source platform can provide insights on how to improve customized courseware and virtual experiences, and how to improve teaching methods. Currently, he adds, the Sojourner platform does not easily compare to any existing devices.

“It’s not just another new product, it’s a completely different ecosystem,” he told Edsurg. He gave the example of a professor who wants to accept a popular biology textbook, but does not plan to assign a chapter to it. “So I tell students, ‘Don’t read Chapter 9, follow this link and read this part I wrote, and then follow this link to this quiz I wrote, and then watch this video at Colorado State University,'” Feldstein said. I have to go through all ro chrobatics because I don’t like Chapter 9. I have no way of weaving it all together. “

There is no incentive for traditional publishers to solve this problem, Feldstein argues, because their professional models are based on keeping students and professors in the system of content they own. “Their DNA is wired,” he says. “And as long as this is your core business, you can’t create an environment that can solve that problem.”

Argos has already brought in some venture funds. Company Received $ 250,000 in support Some kind of service from WGU Labs to help with performance research, market research and outreach support.

This is not the first time Stephen Downs, a national expert on online learning technology, has tried to use the market for long-running, courseware. OLDaily newspaper.

Called a resource Merlot He has long applied for peer-reviewed reviews on online educational materials, and Downs says he was involved in a wealth of online course material. eduSource.

And some previous attempts by publishers to allow professors to customize textbooks have not received a large response, as some may be happy enough to use a link to the various materials they have assigned to their curriculum or education management system, albeit a little clunky.

Feldstein focuses on improving the quality of teaching through a process sometimes referred to as teaching engineering, which aims to encourage instructors to use data from courseware and other tools to continually improve their teaching. For the past few years, he has been running a nonprofit called the Empirical Educator Project, which seeks to bring in various players for Adtech and higher education. That project is ongoing, and includes a Virtual meeting This week.

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