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Winner: College Open Textbooks
'I voted for this because it is such a great idea! The increasingly high cost of textbooks can be an additional barrier to students who are already struggling financially to get a college education.' -Maureen Mackey White
College Open Textbooks (COT) aims to put free online textbooks into the hands (or onto the screens) of college students and professors everywhere. To do so, they come at the problem of overly expensive textbooks from multiple fronts. Not only does their website offer a wealth of links to free books (divided up by subject and including books in literature, economics, history, math and more) but they also provide resources to help educators considering switching to open books for the first time.
To make that transition easier, they've got a number of helpful programs in place. For instance, educators who recently adopted an open text - or are just considering it - can fill in a collaborative Google Doc on the COT site, alerting the site community to new open textbook possibilities and opening educators up to suggestions that might ease the monetary burden on their students' pocketbooks. COT also features a massive peer-review system for open texts; that way, classroom adopters can know that the book they're using has been vetted by academic professionals and has as much value as a traditional paid text.
Finalist: Massive Open Online Courses
'Many people can undergo the course at the same time.' -Rachel Nyingi
This 8-week course supported by the University of Illinois - Springfield has its sights set on online learning in more ways than one. Students here engage in a class that's a mix of self-driven instruction and video seminars all about the future of scholarship on the Internet, including a focus on OCW. MOOC embraces its Web surroundings, incorporating Google Docs, blogs and Twitter hashtags into its coursework. Every week a panel of experts on each topic delivers a webinar to those enrolled in the course.
Finalist: UC Irvine OCW
'Rapid access to knowledge.' -Humberto Xavier
Since 2006, the University of California - Irvine has been a major proponent of the OCW movement; in fact, they were the first West Coast school to join the OpenCourseWare Consortium. Their massive OCW archive contains numerous courses in a number of subject areas, mostly aimed at adult learners interested in continuing education. All their courses allow users the option of enrolling in for-credit equivalents at their school, providing students with a way to transform a major interest in OCW into academic credentials with ease.