COLUMBUS – Chancellor Eric D. Fingerhut today announced a joint pilot program between the University System of Ohio and Flat World Knowledge, the largest publisher of free and open college textbooks for students worldwide. The program will allow 1,000 Ohio students to receive digital textbooks for free.
Faculty in the pilot who select Flat World textbooks for their courses, and agree to participate in a research project focused on student learning, can offer their students free access to the Flat World Knowledge suite of digital learning materials and low-cost access to print textbooks.
"The University System of Ohio works hard every day to provide students with low-cost options that promote student learning," Fingerhut said. "This innovative pilot will evaluate cost-effective options for Ohio college students and set the stage for significant system-wide savings."
Under the program, students will be able to choose from a variety of textbook formats, including an online version, e-books for the iPad, Kindle and other e-readers, audiobooks, PDF downloads, and interactive study aids. The digital files are non-expiring and not digital rights management (DRM) copy-protected, allowing students to transfer the content from device to device. Students who prefer a printed book will have the option to purchase a low-cost softcover copy.
Faculty and students can also participate in best practices workshops focused on getting the most value from the emerging digital learning environment.
"Skyrocketing textbook prices are a major contributor to the cost of higher education," said Eric Frank, president and co-founder of Flat World Knowledge. "This new partnership creates a framework for reducing college costs and improving learning outcomes. Everybody benefits from equal access and choice of educational materials."
The 1,000 licenses for digital texts and study aids from Flat World Knowledge were purchased in bulk by the Ohio Board of Regents to encourage faculty to use innovative digital learning materials in their courses and drive down out-of-pocket textbook costs for students, helping make college more affordable – a key strategy in Ohio's 10-year "Strategic Plan for Higher Education".
Faculty interested in participating in the pilot should email Associate Vice Chancellor Darlene McCoy, firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Ohio's effort to help make textbooks more affordable for college students, please visit the Ohio TextbookHQ website.
Flat World Knowledge content is published under a Creative Commons open license that grants substantial flexibility to faculty to customize the peer-reviewed materials for their specific classes. Coupled with the ability of students to read the textbooks on-line at no cost, this business model supports Ohio's teaching and learning model- faculty retain their autonomy in selecting the textbook of their choice and students have a variety of low and no-cost formats to serve their learning preferences.
Faculty at Miami University of Ohio, Columbus State Community College, Wright State University, Kent State University, Ohio University, the University of Dayton and the University of Toledo are among 1,600 professors at over 900 colleges worldwide who have used Flat World open textbooks.
Carole Walters, Flat World Knowledge