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Barnes & Noble Education Launches OER Platform

30441240986_09e5625328_hHaving acquiesced to the realities of textbook retail, B&N Edu has turned to other ways of profiting off of curricula.

On Wednesday B&N Edu announced the launch of  Barnes & Noble Education Courseware, a turnkey OER solution which colleges and universities can use to implement OER textbooks and classroom resources.

OER, or open education resource, is the term used to describe open-licensed curriculum like the textbooks created by the CK12 Foundation.

“Open educational resources are a cost-effective solution for today’s educators, but according to our research, less than five percent of faculty adopt them, primarily due to effort required to assemble the right materials for the first day of class,” said Kanuj Malhotra, Chief Operating Officer, Digital Education. “BNED Courseware enables faculty to get started in minutes, easily add, delete or adapt content to match their syllabi and conveniently access on-campus support.”

The new platform was developed by LoudCloud, the edtech company B&N Edu acquired in March 2016. According to the press release, the site is built on "a foundation of high quality OER, including OpenStax".

It’s not clear whether B&N plans to charge for access to the platform, or only for extra features. (At a minimum B&N Edu will be charging for the POD textbooks.) LoudCloud does offer a half-dozen different services, including analytics, and that has been included in the new OER platform.

Either way, this dovetails nicely with B&N Edu’s other plans.

What with the college textbook market dying due to students being priced out of the market, college bookstores are finding that they either have to shut down, find other sources of revenue, or outsource the operation to companies like eCampus and Amazon.

B&N Edu is in the process of pivoting away from running college bookstores to running what are basically gift shops which sell branded merchandise and other non-book items. This pivot has freed B&N Edu from having to worry about sabotaging its textbook sales, and that has created an opportunity for B&N Edu to further disrupt the college textbook market with an OER platform.

Smart, that.

image by ASU English Department

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