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Unlikely partners create innovative product for college biology

In a sign of continuing evolution in the college textbook market, an unlikely partnership was announced today between Wiley, an industry leader (NYSE:JWa, JWb), and Rice University-based OpenStax College, a newcomer from the "open education resources" (OER) movement. The partnership calls for Wiley to deliver content from OpenStax College's two new biology textbooks via WileyPLUS with its online learning, practice and assessment resources that are proven to improve learning outcomes. Pilot tests are slated to begin this fall.

"OpenStax College and Wiley are breaking new ground by working together to broaden access and add value to high-quality OER content," said Joe Heider, senior vice president of Wiley Global Education. "By integrating OpenStax content with WileyPLUS' practice and assessment resources, this partnership gives students the option of paying a reduced price for a personalized experience that is proven to improve learning outcomes."

OpenStax College uses philanthropic support to produce high-quality textbooks through a rigorous development and review process. All OpenStax textbooks are available free online. Its first two books, introductory texts for physics and sociology, were adopted by educators at more than 100 schools and downloaded more than 30,000 times in their first six months.

"Producing free, high-quality learning materials is just the first step toward our goal of making college more affordable," said Richard Baraniuk, founder of OpenStax College and professor of engineering at Rice. "By partnering with an industry-leading educational service provider like Wiley, we will be able to give millions more students access to our books."

David Harris, editor in chief of OpenStax College, said, "The WileyPLUS learning tools add value to our new biology textbooks, which were developed for course areas in which Wiley doesn't already publish. This is an ideal pairing to reduce costs, personalize education and improve learning outcomes."

WileyPLUS, a research-based online learning environment, is proven to enhance student success. WileyPLUS is already offered with more than 300 Wiley titles and is used in more than 20 countries.

Heider said the new partnership represents Wiley's continuing evolution as a knowledge company. "Partnerships, like this one with OpenStax College, help us to fulfill our mission of broadening access to education through flexibile and affordable solutions for students."

OpenStax College's two new introductory biology textbooks -- for majors and nonmajors -- are scheduled to be available for classes in fall 2013, and chapters are available online for preview. Wiley and OpenStax College said they will work with colleges and instructors to set up pilot tests of the new textbooks and WileyPLUS resources this fall. This community effort will enhance the effectiveness and usability of the final product. Heider said prices have not been set, but inclusion of the free books will significantly reduce costs to students.

"'Either/or' thinking closes the door on innovation," Harris said. "Through this partnership, OpenStax College and Wiley are proving that collaboration -- even among unlikely partners -- can yield solutions that benefit students."

Contact: David Ruth
Rice University

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