Posted April 3, 2013 by Dr. Henri Montandon in art


From the website:

Connexions is: a place to view and share educational material made of small knowledge chunks called modules that can be organized as courses, books, reports, etc. Anyone may view or contribute:

authors create and collaborate

instructors rapidly build and share custom collections

learners find and explore content

From Wikipedia:

Connexions is a global repository of educational content provided by Rice University. The entire collection is available free of charge, and students and learners alike can explore all the content they desire.

Connexions was one of the first initiatives, pioneering, along with other projects such as MIT OpenCourseWare and the Public Library of Science, the idea of open educational resources—that scholarly and educational content can and should be shared, re-used and recombined, interconnected and continually enriched.

Connexions contains educational materials at all levels—from children to college students to professionals—organized in small modules that can be connected into larger courses. Material is authored by people from all walks of life. Much content is created by university professors, but the collection also contains very popular music content created by a part-time music teacher.

Comparison to other open education projects

 First, in scale: Connexions has content from all over the world in a growing variety of languages, not just materials from one specific school or university. It also collects materials to support education in K-12, community college, university, continuing education, and industrial training settings.

 Second, by the way communities are supported: Connexions is globally accessible to anyone to not only read and use the materials, but also take them, customize them, and contribute them back to the repository or not.

Third, in the way it is organized: Connexions is grassroots organized from the bottom up rather than from the top down like many other open education projects. Everyone is free to join and take on a leadership role.

Currently, there are 21631 reusable modules woven into 1293 collections.

This site is even more interesting for instantiating another net-centric idea about education. Dr. Richard Baraniuk is the Victor E. Cameron Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University. The founder and sustaining presence at ConneXions, he is also a founder and leader in the open education movement.

In a recent TED talk, Dr Baraniuk reviewed his inspirations and the intellectual framework of his paradigm. He discusses the intense ferment occurring in the world of book publishing, and suggests that the methods of the pirate world of the musical web – create, rip, mix and burn – be applied to the educational world, while at the same time offering protection and a sustainable source of income to the creators of the original information modules (the mind-bites of the project.)

He emphasizes XML (Extensible Markup Language) as “the future of the web.” As a data serialization format, XML is already in common usage. Whether it will survive (in competition with other DSF formats such as JSON, YAML, and S-Expressions) will be known in the fullness of time.

Does the internet select for splitters or lumpers; or is it a new ecology where diversity wins over dichotomy? I am betting on diversity, because cyberspace is where Imagination Rules! The trajectory of this new world is toward Borges’ Library of Babel, in which is found every statement and combination of statements  which have been made or will be made.

Dr. Henri Montandon