OpenStax NEW Concepts of Biology (non-majors)



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This course includes:


practice questions


engagement activities


assessment questions


The Cellular Foundation of Life: What is the Chemistry of Life?

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Concept Goals: By the end of this section, students will be able to:


  • Describe matter and elements
  • Describe the interrelationship between protons, neutrons, and electrons, and the ways in which electrons can be donated or shared between atoms

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Concept Goals: By the end of this section, students will be able to:


  • Describe the properties of water that are critical to maintaining life


Transforming traditional education into an immersive and engaging learning experience.


ico-learning-tools-1Inquiry Based Discovery

Engages all learning styles through questioning. Essential questions and content concepts integrate seamlessly with clear goals and opportunities to apply relevant skills and knowledge.

ico-learning-tools-2Self Directed Learning

Empowers learners to use the course navigation technique suitable to their learning style, enabling them to engage, and learn, how they learn best.

ico-learning-tools-3Interactive Game Theory

Uses game theory to promote learner engagement, measure progress, and inform peer-to-peer review.  Progress bars, concept icons, and learning check-ins transform learning into a rich and engaging experience.

ico-learning-tools-421st Century Skills

Encourages learners to develop critical thinking skills, by creating connection and applying knowledge based on key questions and new ideas.  Connections and Discussions create deeper engagement with materials and lead to the development of higher-level thinking skills.

Helping Teachers Do What They Do Best: Teach


ico-teaching-tools-1Authoring Tools

Instructors can easily adopt and teach with high-quality, ready-to-use courses complete with practice questions and additional formative assessment questions. Odigia’s intuitive editing tools make it simple for instructors to maximize student student performance by modifying the content to meet specific learning objectives, or to create their own content.

ico-teaching-tools-2Dynamic Analytics

Instructors can use Odigia’s powerful dashboard to make sense of real time data. They can quickly analyze content, classroom, and student performance to maximize teaching efforts and identify where content changes are needed.

ico-teaching-tools-3Scheduling Tools

Instructors can schedule notifications, featured posts, and assign due dates to assignments, in order to make classroom management and planning tasks more efficient.


Stephen Shawl brings decades of teaching experience and textbook writing to the newest edition of Discovering Astronomy. His experiences of teaching undergraduate students at all levels were shaped by numerous Chautauqua short courses and other workshops for college teachers that he attended. Starting in the seventies, he integrated peer undergraduate tutors into his teaching of introductory astronomy and continued to use them throughout his career. He was a pioneer at the University of Kansas in the use of student response systems to increase student involvement in their learning. As an extension of his interest in teaching, he was the principal investigator for an astronomy workshop for junior high and middle school science teachers. His textbook writing career began in writing test banks and instructor’s manuals for many editions of an introductory astronomy textbook before he was asked in 1990 to write the third edition of the unique textbook Discovering Astronomy; he has been the first author in producing its later editions. He was a member of the Education Advisory Board of the American Astronomical Society and served as the Chairman of their Working Group on Astronomy Education. Now a professor emeritus at the University of Kansas, during retirement he has taught at the University of Arizona and Pima Community College in Tucson.

Educated at the University of California at Berkeley in the early 1960s and the University of Texas at Austin, he received his Ph.D. in 1972. Immediately after receiving his doctorate, he joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Kansas. Research interests involved the study of the fundamental properties of globular star clusters, the presence of gas and dust in these clusters, and cool variable stars whose light is sometimes polarized.


Stephen Shawl-2

Emeritus Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Kansas

Gene Byrd has been prolific in his writing for students. Starting with one of the original authors of Discovering Astronomy he published a self-paced course used for years at the University of Texas and on-line at the University of Alabama. He is co-author of two senior/graduate level texts Cosmology: Foundations and Frontiers and Paths to Dark Energy: Theory and Observations along with a popular book, The Evolving Universe and the Origin of Life.  He has been honored as a University of Alabama College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Teaching Fellow. His research interests are the dynamics of galaxies, where he discovered “an inconvenient galaxy” NGC4622, which has inner and outer spiral arms winding in opposite directions, and the effects of dark energy in our local universe. Dr. Byrd served as Secretary and Chair of the American Astronomical Society’s Division on Dynamical Astronomy. He has helped organize several international conferences, the last one in St Petersburg, Russia published as Order and Chaos in Stellar and Dynamical Systems.

He received a B.S. in physics from Texas A&M University in 1968 and a PhD in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin. He became a faculty member at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa in 1974, retiring in 2009.

Gene Byrd

Emeritus Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Alabama

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