Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Online library offers free lessons, affordable textbooks and courses on a wide range of subjects

In a news release today, TEL Library, a nonprofit organization whose vision is to eliminate cost as a barrier to a quality education, announced the availability of its public, online curriculum library.
TEL Library has built a scalable, sustainable library of free lessons and affordable textbooks and courses that cover subjects ranging from history, science, and math, to literature and writing. Library courses are academically rigorous, yet understandable, and relevant to a broad spectrum of learners from advanced high school, through college, to adult learners. The Library’s lessons are available for free through its reference library and in low-cost textbooks and courses.

TEL Library textbooks and courses are ideal for colleges and high schools seeking affordable textbooks and low-cost white-label curriculum solutions. Homeschool students and other independent learners will also benefit from the Library’s affordable, self-paced courses. Experienced learning designers, information scientists, and domain experts are creating Library lessons, courses, and textbooks. New lessons are constantly in development and are regularly added to the library.

The launch of TEL Library represents the realization of the founders’ vision. “Our mission is to provide affordable, high-quality learning options to everyone,” says Vance Fried, TEL Library president. “Our products are good enough for the richest, yet cheap enough for the poorest.”

Affordable Learning  
Affordable learning options are a means to a very important end. “Education is always important,” states Dr. William English, Assistant Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. “It’s the one thing that really makes a difference to a nation’s capacity to innovate, its productivity, and our citizens’ ability to understand and engage with one another and to live productive lives. However, we’ve seen an enormous rise in the cost of education over the last three decades. Higher education institutions are under a lot of pressure to figure out a better model going forward. They are asking themselves—can we make education more affordable and accessible? TEL Library saw that we should be able to bring down some of these costs through technology innovation. If you can provide high-quality, scalable content, you can provide an education for a much lower marginal cost than some of the existing frameworks. The kind of innovations that TEL Library has come up with are going to be very useful as educational institutions reorganize, figure out how to use the internet effectively, and incorporate technology in ways that will reduce the cost of delivery and content.”

Scalable, Sustainable Model 
A key educational technology innovation pioneered by TEL Library is the use of Stackable Lessons™, reusable content blocks that can be combined with other lessons, regardless of subject and order, without losing coherence or learning efficacy. It is the use of Stackable Lessons™ that enables the TEL Library model of delivering affordable content that can easily scale in size and scope. “TEL Library’s unique model for lesson design and reuse allows us to address the needs of many different groups with a single content library,” says Rob Reynolds, TEL Library executive director and co-founder of TEL Library. “Better yet, we can address those needs in a scalable and sustainable manner.”

The TEL Library content development and delivery model is unique and innovative. “What I’ve really noticed is there’s a big difference in how TEL Library has approached this innovation as opposed to other organizations,” continues English. “Ed-tech has traditionally been led by business and tech people. They understand at a high level that there’s an opportunity, to deliver all sorts of content better online. They work on the platforms and business models long before they think about the user, and they end up having to strong-arm academics who will take the time to sit down and develop content. What TEL Library did is at the very beginning they reached out to experts in their fields—people who have been educators for a while, are passionate, and really know what they’re talking about, and got them excited about sharing their expertise. So instead of wrangling people, trying to get them to provide content on the platform, TEL Library was able to assemble a really high-quality academic team to put together content that then everything else sort of fits around.”

Accessible Learning 
As an online resource, TEL Library lessons and textbooks are accessible to anyone, anywhere. “People have changed the way they learn and socialize,” says Dr. Ed Harris, administrator of the Brock International Prize in Education, and Professor and Williams Chair of Educational Leadership at Oklahoma State University. “If you want to learn about a new topic or skill, you don't have to go to a brick and mortar building to learn about it. You can find just about anything you could possibly want to know and learn through the internet. It's really changing the whole idea of place, space and time, and how people exist within those constructs. Schools have to keep up. Technology is just a part of our life. An important trend is adapting the learning situation to that. So, the idea of ‘we will build it and they will come’ is just not working now. So, we need alternatives, and TEL Library is one alternative.”

Pricing and Availability 
The TEL Library opens with hundreds of lessons on a diverse set of topics, available for free in the searchable reference collection. In the coming months, the Library will begin offering textbooks for $9.99 and self-paced courses for under $100.

By the fall of 2019, the library will contain thousands of lessons on topics such as economics, literature, composition, history, science, math, marketing, philosophy, religion, computer technology, communication, art history, and more.

To explore the available lessons and courses, and to experience a free TEL Library lesson, visit www.tellibrary.org.

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