panOpen and A Sociology Experiment Partner to Deliver Affordable, Open, and Interactive Courseware

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Partnership brings together a next generation OER courseware platform and leading sociology scholars to lower student costs and improve sociology education

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The partnership between panOpen and A Sociology Experiment will expand access to high-quality course materials for a wide range of students, while supporting faculty with a range of instructional resources, Gwen Sharp, Assoc. Vice Provost and Assistant Professor of Sociology, Nevada State College,

panOpen, a courseware platform that provides the technology and support for educational institutions to adopt Open Educational Resources at scale, and A Sociology Experiment (ASE), a provider of high quality and low-cost sociology content, announced today a partnership that aims to improve sociology instruction in higher education by combining introductory works by outstanding sociology educators and the digital tools that faculty and students require for today’s blended and online classrooms. The works will be available in panOpen, under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC License.

“Pat Sharkey and I launched A Sociology Experiment because we saw a need to improve the quality of introductory sociology materials while lowering their costs,” noted ASE co-founder Shamus Khan, Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology, Columbia University, “The partnership with panOpen allows us to further these goals by making this content the foundation for interactive and open courseware. We’re excited to work together to improve and expand sociology education, especially at a time when the need to grapple with core issues in the field is greater than ever.”

The courseware combines the current sixteen chapters that introduce students to the discipline with the technology and support to improve student engagement and classroom outcomes. This learning technology includes interactive formative and summative assessments, teaching slides, videos, flashcards, student studying tools (such as highlighting, note taking, and classroom note sharing), and deep-linking Learning Management System integration (LMS), with single sign-on and gradebook synching. Faculty adopters can also auto-generate the sociology courseware within their LMS classroom shell, without a need to visit the panOpen website.

“ From the beginning, our goal at ASE has been to provide students with an excellent textbook at a reasonable cost,” commented co-editor Gwen Sharp, Associate Vice Provost of Academic Initiatives and Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Nevada State College, “The partnership between panOpen and A Sociology Experiment will expand access to high-quality course materials for a wide range of students, while supporting faculty with a range of instructional resources. I'm excited to be part of an innovative program that is centered around the needs of students and that provides a model of how to reduce the expense of higher education without sacrificing quality.”

ASE will continue to make the current version of the materials available on its website for $1 per chapter, as mission support fees; the LMS-integrated, interactive, and open courseware version is available through panOpen for a one-time fee of $25 per student user per course, with perpetual access for each user. The panOpen version includes all of the ASE content, the ability to mix-in other OER and public domain materials, and the instructor’s own content. Students can purchase access through their college’s LMS integration, directly at panOpen, and through access codes sold by the college bookstore. Campus-based inclusive access participation may also be available in time for the fall.

“The present pandemic crisis is an accelerant for many processes that have long been unfolding in education,” noted Dr. Brian Jacobs, CEO and Founder of panOpen, “Central among these is the decline of traditional models of educational publishing and the emergence of new ones, especially those that combine the best features of open and traditional models. We are thrilled to partner with A Sociology Experiment as an exemplar of the innovation and forward thinking that are needed to bring renewal in education.”

The content itself is groundbreaking for sociology education. “Our approach was to seek out the most creative, passionate writers and teachers of sociology to contribute chapters on their subfields of expertise,” explains ASE co-founder Patrick Sharkey, Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton University, “The result, we believe, is a resource that introduces students to the discipline through engaging writing and exercises put together by some of the best teachers in the field. We’re excited to work with panOpen to combine our project with leading digital learning tools, and foster immersive learning experiences.”

A Sociology Experiment Chapters include:

1) “A Sociology Experiment,” Shamus Khan, Patrick Sharkey; Gwen Sharp, Nevada State College
2) “Research Methods,” Shamus Khan, Gwen Sharp
3) “Social Structure and the Individual,” Judith Halasz, State University of New York at New Paltz; Peter Kaufman, State University of New York at New Paltz
4) “Social Class, Inequality, and Poverty,” Peter Kaufman, Todd Schoepflin, Niagara University
5) “Culture,” Jonathan Wynn, University of Massachusetts Amherst
6) “Gender and Sexuality,” Angela Barian, Cardinal Stritch University; Todd Schoepflin
7) “Race and Ethnicity,” Rashawn Ray, University of Maryland, Patrick Sharkey
8) “Sociology of Families,” Angela Barian
9) “Sociology of Education,” Maia Cucchiara, Temple University
10) “Sociology of Religion,” Melissa J. Wilde, University of Pennsylvania; Patricia Tevington, Montclair State University
11) “Political Sociology,” Fabio Rojas, Indiana University
12) “Urban Sociology,” Patrick Sharkey
13) “Deviance, Crime and Violence,” Angela Barian, Patrick Sharkey
14) “Economic Sociology,” Fabio Rojas
15) “Health and Illness,” Margaret T. Hicken, University of Michigan; Hedwig Lee, Washington University in St. Louis
16) [forthcoming] “Sociology of the Environment,” Dana Fisher, University of Maryland; Andrew Jorgenson, Boston College

The versatility of the ASE content is evident from the range of institutions and situations in which it has already been adopted. “I love how my Intro to Sociology students embrace ASE as their textbook, notes Jonathan Wynn, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst and ASE chapter contributor, “ In course evaluations they describe it as ‘intriguing,’ ‘easy to read,’ and ‘never dull.’ Students find the chapter summaries as concise and helpful, and the assignments as fun applications of the chapter content. As an ASE chapter writer, I drew upon years of teaching experience to match key concepts with vivid examples from everyday life, and crafted thought-provoking resources and questions for instructors.

The work is even in use supporting sociology education for incarcerated individuals. “We use A Sociology Experiment for multiple classes with the Texas Prison Education Initiative,” comments Sarah Brayne, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Texas, Austin, “Students find it accessible and direct with lots of real-world examples. It is also an ideal resource for team teaching, because all the instructors have access to the same supplemental resources, which aids in instructional continuity."

About A Sociology Experiment

A Sociology Experiment is designed for instructors teaching Introduction to Sociology (or related courses) who want to assign a uniquely engaging set of chapters written by a diverse group of the best writers and teachers in every area of Sociology. It is for those who want to integrate supplemental readings, videos, maps, and data from the web into their lectures, for those who want to incorporate discussion topics, group projects and data exercises into each week of their Sociology course. And it is for teachers who want to deliver all of this to students for $1 per chapter. It is more expansive than any other textbook out there, and it gives instructors everything they could possibly need to teach an extraordinary course. We are extremely proud of this resource; we hope it helps you inspire students every week of the semester.
To learn more, visit https://www.sociologyexperiment.com/

About panOpen
Designed by educators, panOpen is a courseware platform that realizes the promise of OER by providing all of the components required for its widespread use. panOpen offers complete peer-reviewed content, customization tools, assessments, analytics, LMS integration, and a means of financially sustaining campus-based OER efforts. With panOpen, faculty adopt enhanced interactive OER as they would a commercial textbook, with confidence in the quality and reliability of the content. panOpen preserves the virtues of OER—radically reducing textbook costs and freeing faculty from the constraints of commercial copyright—while delivering the quality, features, and ease-of-use faculty expect from their learning materials. The result has enormous implications for pedagogical practices, changing the relationships of instructors and students to their educational content.
To learn more, visit http://www.panopen.com

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