Throughout 2015, we worked closely with TLT Fellow Lee Giles and his graduate students on an application called BBookX. The idea behind BBookX revolves around the concept of human-computing, where users work collaboratively with the computer to quickly create open source textbooks. BBookX uses intelligent algorithms to explore Open Educational Resource (OER) repositories and return relevant resources that can be combined, remixed, and re-used to support specific learning goals. As instructors and students add materials to their book, BBookX learns and further refines the recommended material.
I personally used BBookX in the fall for my IST 110 course, where I created a 16-chapter textbook to act as the primary text, saving my students ~$16,000 in aggregate on textbook costs. I also crafted an assignment around BBookX, where I put it in the hands of my students, and asked them to create a 3-chapter textbook that represented the intersection of IST and their majors. After the assignment, over 60% of my students indicated they learned something new about their discipline through the use of BBookX; a great testament to the ‘discoverability’ of content through working with the algorithms.
In addition to instructors and students building books, BBookX can also be used to create supporting materials, such as case studies, compendiums, study guides, and so on. Another interesting use of the application is for what some faculty call ‘rapid course development’. Again, by interacting with BBookX, the application often surfaces interesting pieces of content that may not work as part of a book, but might make a really interesting centerpiece for a class discussion or example to illustrate a concept.
If you’re interested in trying BBookX, please head over to the login page and request an account. We’re also happy to meet with you to provide a demonstration and help brainstorm ways in which BBookX can play a role in your course!