LibreTexts is a collaborative effort to improve STEM education for students, especially economically-disadvantaged students, by constructing open-access online LibreTexts libraries. The project includes complementary ancillaries that advance a number of different pedagogical methods. It support a highly diverse student population previously exposed to a broad range of learning experiences and with major differences in their STEM skill levels, preparation, and background. In addition to providing up-to-date, peer-reviewed, affordable and convenient content. LibreTexts, as a Next-generation learning system promotes personalized, flexible, and interactive learning experiences. From these components, we will have a combined assessment infrastructure that tracks and correlates individual performance with simulations, homework activities and exam performance with a goal of identifying and tracking student strengths and weakness to determine how best to amplify learning across multiple STEM curricula. This is enabled by broad scope vertical and horizontal nature of the Libretexts.
The success of the LibreTexts Project positively impacts four main populations in substantial ways: (1) Availability of free quality resources for learning by the non-academic community; (2) Reducing the financial burden on all students, especially lower socioeconomic status students, while simultaneously addressing any identified lack of preparation; (3) Smaller or financially disadvantaged academic institutions, including high schools, that increasingly wish to adopt newer learning technologies but cannot afford the initial buy-in to change curriculum; and (4) Discipline-based education researchers looking for a platform to evaluate interdisciplinary approaches and curriculum modifications that would otherwise cost too much to develop from scratch. For broader impacts, we propose will take advantage of the LibreTexts extensive dissemination network to provide equal education opportunities to limited English proficient students by expanding the libraries into Spanish language translations.
It is not news to most faculty that traditional publishing of a textbook involves preparing a typeset manuscript for a commercial publisher, who binds it and distributes it, often at prices that make it inaccessible to students from less affluent institutions. However, online texts are superior to a paper text in several ways:
- Web browsers can jump to the page you click on, so even an 800 page book can be read in real time.
- The equations, sections, references and index cross-referencing can be hyperlinked, so students can effortlessly jump back and forth through the text.
- Traditionally, there are conflicts between conciseness (so the key ideas get across within reasonable reading time) and scholarly completeness. Online texts allow for branching into levels of detail suited to individual reader's interests, and providing up-to-date links to other relevant material.
- It is often more instructive to work through a solution of a problem than be given only the abstract theory. Online texts helps by providing links to student projects and problem solutions.
It is possible to have the book printed by print-on-demand companies (both Amazon and LuluExpress output files are generated). A complete book takes often years to produce; however, the LibreTexts platform makes it possible to make accessible the (semi)completed parts as textbook construction proceeds. The LibreTexts project adopts an open construction approach since we strongly believe that is better to have educational content accessible to students and then continuously improve it, rather than refusing to share until the building and perfecting is completed.
Some of the content on Libretexts is constructed from scratch, but most of it is integrated from existing content scattered across the internet. Content stored on individual faculty's websites, hidden in pdfs, or published has been integrated into the Libretexts format, all with the original author's permission to publish the content under a free license that aligns with the free and accessible philosophy of the Libretexts. Central to its success is the construction and adoption of faculty specific and freely accessible "LibreTexts" that substitute for costly conventional textbooks in post-secondary courses. These are assembled by incorporating content from an extensive network of existing chemistry and broader materials. We recently hosted a Youtube webinar to explain our project and scope:
The Construction guide aids developers in interacting with the Libretexts platform and building content. To complement these resources, there is a Construction Forum for developers to help each other, which is freely available (however, a free account is needed to post):