By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2014, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) is the key to future competitiveness.
Expert TA CEO and founder Jeremy Morton believes so strongly in enhancing STEM education in public schools that he’s partnered with an open resource provider, OpenStax College, a nonprofit based out of Rice University, that provides free textbooks online.
In a further groundbreaking move, Expert TA has announced that for every new college or university course that purchases Expert TA, the company will donate access to a high school classroom in need for one full academic year.
It’s like a STEM version of the one-for-one sales model of shoe retailer TOMS®.
Expert TA, an i2E portfolio company in Tulsa, is already a leader in STEM education, specifically in physics. The firm provides online homework with grading and feedback to improve teacher and teaching assistant effectiveness while making it easier for students to learn.
Since its inception about 18 months ago, OpenStax College has seen a surge in adoption. Today, almost 500 schools and nearly 70,000 students are benefiting from OpenStax College texts. In addition, there have been more than a half-million downloads, and Web users of the textbooks are in the millions.
OpenStax College’s free texts are developed and peer-reviewed by educators to ensure they are readable, accurate and meet the scope and sequence requirements of the course.
“We spend a great deal of time developing high quality materials, and Expert TA provides a world-class problem library and online tools,” said David Harris, OpenStax editor-in-chief. “Thousands of students will benefit from the resources offered by ExpertTA and OpenStax College.”
Multiple studies show that to stick, STEM education has to start in high school or even earlier.
By working together, OpenStax College and Expert TA are helping schools faced with acute budget restraints. About one-third of OpenStax adoptions are in high school advanced placement (AP) courses.
“Expert TA’s new program is ground breaking and will improve access to not only content but technology enablers in the high school market,” said Harris. “This program demonstrates that this new ecosystem around open education resources will improve quality, drive down costs, and enhance access for all students.”
Expert TA and OpenStax College are demonstrating the kind of grassroots initiatives that can have a real impact on accelerating our country’s STEM expertise. In our grade book, they deserve an A+.
These companies are making a difference. The rest of us need to get on board.
To nominate an in-need high school physics classroom, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.
DID YOU KNOW? STEM jobs pay about 25 percent more than non-STEM jobs. Even STEM jobs without a four-year degree pay about 10 percent more than non-STEM jobs with similar educational requirements.