As I write this blog post, I’m sitting inside Content Castle, the little brick office that the Boundless Content Team calls home. Originally, I was going to write about why high-quality content is king in the OER (open educational resources) space. But then I realized that our team consists of five very excellent ladies and one very excellent gentleman! So for reasons of feminism and alliteration this article is now about why quality content is queen.
OER: An Infinite Abyss
Maybe “abyss” is the wrong word. After all, more open educational content is a good thing. But it can be scary out there in the Internet. There’s a lot of information!
Let’s say you’re thinking to yourself “Wow, I’d like to remember how the Krebs cycle works.” Or, “This week, I’m teaching my accounting students about controlling and reporting intangible assets.” Or, “Wait. Does punctuation go outside or inside the parentheses?” (An age-old question, of course.)
So you Google those topics. And you find… ten million results. Some of them are fantastic resources, vetted by experts and educators! And some of them are someone’s aunt’s cat blog. It can be hard to figure out what sources are trustworthy and which ones are just something someone threw onto the Internet one time. How do you wade through all of the okay open resources to the best open resources?
The good news is that on the Boundless Content Team, we’re doing the wading so you don’t have to!
Stamp of Approval
Boundless is committed to making high-quality content accessible to everyone. So we get a lot of people involved. First, we gather existing openly licensed resources from all across the Web. (Our manager won a Googling competition in college, so you know we know how to dig deep for online content.)
Once we have a big pile of existing resources, we whip them into a table of contents, making sure we note any coverage gaps for a typical 101-level course. That’s when we bring in a professor actively teaching that subject at the college level who will take a look at how we structured the content, then give us feedback. After some back and forth, our table of contents is 100% professor-approved. And luckily, our content is completely customizable for your class, so the exact ordering doesn’t have to be approved by EVERYONE—but that’s another story.
After our table of contents has been approved, that’s when we get down into the gritty details. We go out into our network of 400+ subject-matter experts and have them curate the content, atom by atom, making sure all the information is accurate, clear, and within the scope of an introductory college course. After the content curators do their thing, we send in a flock of copy editors armed with their red pens to make sure everything looks good. (The red pens are metaphorical. This is all done through our editing platform that tracks changes.)
And then we have it: a new (or revamped) subject. Educator-approved, expert-vetted. All in one neat, customizable package for you.
Current Happenings for Boundless Content
Some of the content curation projects the Boundless Content Team is working on right now include:
- Updating our US History content to include more contextualization and primary sources, as well as giving more screen time to women and minorities throughout our country’s history.
- Reworking our image captions to be accessible for all users.
- Updating our Biology content to include embedded media and dope interactives.
- Piloting the creation of an assessment bank for Psychology with over fifty different question types. Yes, fifty. We’re excited and scared at the same time.
These are just a few of the many, many, way too many exciting projects on Boundless Content’s plate. Not to mention our mission to listen to all 58 “Now, That’s What I Call Music!” albums by July 1. (Spoiler alert: You can go ahead and skip Now 12.)