Flat World Knowledge

Textbooks for free


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Web http://www.flatworldknowledge.com/


About the project Edit

Flat World Knowledge is a for-profit educational publisher based in Nyack, New York, founded by Eric Frank and Jeff Shelstad. It started in 2009 with a beta test in which it is offering four different textbooks online for free to hundreds of students at 15 colleges and universities across the United States. Flat World Knowledge now offers a wide range of texts in various areas of business and economics, and is willing to replace traditional textbooks in a single class or class section at each participating institution. Not only will students have free online access to the expert-written, peer-reviewed and professionally edited texts, but the texts will be open as well through a Creative Commons licensing scheme, giving faculty the ability to customize them as they wish for their classes.

In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

Flat World Knowledge is open-source approach to textbook publishing. Flat World Knowledge publishes their books under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial Share-Alike license, making the company the first commercial publisher of open textbooks. Unlike other free text ventures out there--such as US-based Freeload Press and Danish Ventus Publishing --Flat World's business model doesn't depend on advertising. Instead, it offers affordable supplementary materials to students beyond the free online book, including printed, on demand textbooks for around USD 30; audio books for around USD 25; and downloadable and printable files by the chapter. Also available are low-priced study aids like podcast study guides, digital flash cards, interactive practice quizzes and more.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

Eric Frank, Flat World's cofounder and chief marketing officer, explains: "The time has come for open textbooks. This new model of textbook publishing will result in increased choices and dramatically lower costs for students. It can enhance learning by giving instructors more control over content, and by leveraging the power of social learning networks around content. Between the oligopolistic practices of the big publishers on one end of the spectrum--and piracy on the other--lies a better solution: open textbooks." The books are the hub of a social learning network where students learn from the book and each other.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

As of March 2009, $8 million in investments had been secured by the company. As of June 2009, their catalog lists over 20 business and economics textbooks in production. Discussion on «free» see Chris Andersen.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

What is the business model of this project? Edit

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