Flat World Knowledge Launches Open Textbook Internship Program

Jane Park, February 23rd, 2010

Flat World Knowledge, a commercial textbook publisher who uses CC licenses, aims to transform the way professors and college campuses think about textbooks through a new internship program for students. They asked for applicants last year, and launched the program last week with 19 students from colleges like New York University, Ohio State University, Auburn University, Indiana University, University of Denver, University of Florida and the College of Charleston. From eSchool News,

“The internships, introduced this year by open textbook provider Flat World Knowledge, let sophomore and junior business students earn college credit and a little spending cash if their sales pitch convinces a professor to use web-based texts that can be reorganized and modified by chapter, sentence, or word…

The company has grown in the past year as the open-content movement has gained traction in higher education, buttressed by the Creative Commons license [CC BY-NC-SA]—which doesn’t require permission from authors to change parts of a book—and the rising cost of textbooks.”

The press release states FWK’s intent to change “the college textbook market” by “taking a counter approach to the usual adversarial relationship between textbook publishers and college students.” By using CC licenses, Flat World Knowledge is exploring a business model that builds on open content by offering free digital textbooks via CC BY-NC-SA, but charging for the prints and supplementary materials. Their textbooks have been used at over 400 colleges, and they received $8 million in investments last year.

For more on Flat World Knowledge, swing by CC Salon NYC on March 3 where Eric Frank, the company’s founder and Chief Marketing Officer, will be talking in depth about what they do. If you’re not in the area, stay tuned for some Flip camera action, which I’ll link to here after the event.

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Make Textbooks Affordable campaign launched

Ahrash Bissell, January 23rd, 2008

It was a busy day yesterday for campaigns to open up educational access and opportunities. In addition to the Cape Town Declaration, the Student PIRGs in the United States just launched a major campaign to encourage faculty to adopt open educational resources in their classrooms, which will provide significant benefit to students in making college education more affordable. ccLearn and members of the Creative Commons board have been advising on this campaign, and of course the texts being recommended would carry a CC license.

A press release is below:

January 22, 2008: Textbook costs can be a huge financial burden on students, and considering new low-cost options can help keep higher education affordable and accessible.

Although most of the textbooks on the existing market are expensive, an emerging number of free, online, open-access textbooks presents one of our best hopes for more affordable, comparable options. While the supply of these textbooks is still small, existing open textbooks have already won adoptions at some of the nation’s most prestigious institutions, including Harvard and Caltech. Instructors who use open textbooks have affirmed that high-quality textbooks are not necessarily expensive textbooks.

The statement below is an effort to build faculty interest and demand for affordable and still comparable course materials, including open textbooks.

Signers state their intent to consider open textbooks in the search for the most appropriate course materials, and their preference to adopt an open textbook in place of an expensive, commercial textbook, if the open textbook is the best option.

Please consider signing it!

For more information, to view a list of signatories, and to submit your signature, visit the Make Textbooks Affordable campaign website.

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