Houston, July 11, 2006 -– Rice University's Connexions today announced an agreement with the Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF), Vietnam's Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) and the Vietnam Advanced Software Company (VASC) to deploy Connexions' web-based, open-source document creation and management system and content to improve education and research throughout Vietnam.
In a memorandum of understanding, the parties agreed to deploy Connexions in Vietnam and organize the first of a series Connexions training sessions next week in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
"Connexions will provide the tools that Vietnam needs to turn passive, open-source study materials into active learning resources for both teachers and students," said Kien Pham, executive director of VEF, an independent U.S. federal agency created by Congress to strengthen relations between Vietnam and the U.S. through educational exchanges in science and technology.
Connexions' unique document creation and management software combines cutting-edge software with an innovative legal framework that encourages individuals to self-publish freely accessible educational materials. Connexions promotes collaboration among authors, instructors and students worldwide, and it fosters interdisciplinary and interinstitutional collaboration.
"Our extensible, web-based technology, open-source licensing and unique content are a valuable combination for Vietnamese educators, both economically and academically," said Connexions founder Richard Baraniuk. "Connexions will benefit Vietnam's students and instructors by allowing them to both create and access materials that are free, constantly updated and presented in a unique way that engages students in ways that printed books cannot."
Under today's agreement, MOET will coordinate and promote the use of Connexions at universities and institutions of higher learning throughout Vietnam. VASC, one of Vietnam's leading software, Internet and media companies, and the owner of the open-source education portal Vietnam Open Courseware (VOCW), will act as technical collaborator and incorporate the use of Connexions' tools on the VOCW portal. Connexions will provide regular software updates and technical advice and support to MOET and VASC, including training assistance. VEF will act as catalyst and facilitator, working closely with each of the partners to coordinate and promote the use of Connexions in Vietnam.
No other publisher of open-source educational content can match Connexions offerings, due in part to Connexions' early adoption of Creative Commons' open licenses. The licensing ensures that materials can be accessed, modified, updated and refined by anyone without fear of legal conflict. In addition, Connexions' content is stored in extensible, XML-based formats that ensure that any Connexions' lesson can be easily and seamlessly translated into other languages.
"Our technology makes it easy to both create content in Vietnamese and translate existing Connexions content into Vietnamese," said Baraniuk, the Victor C. Cameron Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice. "This ease of translation is one reason instructors around the globe are already using our content in Spanish, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Italian and other languages."
Connexions has experienced rapid growth over the past year, both in terms of site visitors and in terms of authorship. This year, the site has attracted more than 500,000 unique visitors each month.
Connexions adapts the open-source software concept to scholarly academic content, allowing anyone to freely publish course materials and create custom courses, textbooks and study guides. Connexions is organized around the "Content Commons," an online repository that contains thousands of scholarly lessons or modules – each roughly equivalent to two or three pages from a textbook. Connexions provides free software that allows anyone to create, re-use, revise and recombine these modules to suit their needs.
Connexions is funded primarily by Rice and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which has awarded $2.25 million to the program.
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