"Our discipline has talked about creating this kind of thing for almost 50 years, but we've never really had the means to make it work," said Ted Creighton, executive director of NCPEA. "Books are too expensive. There's no way to include everything or to keep them current, and members can't afford them anyway.
"With the Connexions model, any member will be able to submit their writings to the knowledgebase, subject them to peer review, and any other member will be able to tap into that knowledge for free, or to build upon it," he said.
Connexions is organized around a Content Commons, an online repository that contains thousands of scholarly modules -- manuscripts roughly equivalent to two or three pages from a textbook.
Connexions provides free software that allows anyone to publish to the repository under a Creative Commons open license. The license allows anyone else, be they a student or faculty member, to re-use, revise and recombine the modules. This feature gives people the option of creating customized courses, custom textbooks and personalized study guides.
"Connexions has grassroots appeal, and its growth has taken off in the past year because people are telling their friends about us, and that's spawning new communities of users," said Connexions founder Richard Baraniuk, the Victor E. Cameron Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice.
NCPEA will solicit contributions to the knowledgebase from all interested parties, including scholars, practioners, teachers, students and other educators. Contributions can be as short as two pages or as long as an entire book. The council is appointing a board charged with reviewing these submissions. The board will reply to submitting members with an acceptance or a suggestion for revisions.
"As a third-party professional organization with expertise in this field, NCPEA's review board will serve as a 'lens' for Connexions users," said Baraniuk. "While NCPEA won't endorse particular ideas or viewpoints in any of the material, the board's endorsement will single out particular materials that are high-quality, professionally rigorous, research-based, and aligned with practice in the educational leadership field."
Founded in 1947, NCPEA is committed to the improvement of the practice and study of educational administration. Activities of the NCPEA include, but are not limited to: providing information and leadership, improving the preparation of school administrators, encouraging research and service, promoting high professional standards, focusing attention on educational problems and opportunities, promoting NCPEA membership, cooperating with other professional organizations interested in excellence of education, and promoting participation in all activities deemed by the membership to be in the best interests of NCPEA.