SOURCE: Flat World Knowledge

Flat World Knowledge

April 14, 2010 08:03 ET

Dr. David Wiley, Chief Openness Officer of Flat World Knowledge, Profiled in DIY U, New Book on Transforming Higher Ed

Names Wiley and Flat World as Open-Education Innovators

NYACK, NY--(Marketwire - April 14, 2010) - A new book by Fast Company magazine staff writer Anya Kamenetz, DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, hits stores this month and prominently profiles Flat World Knowledge and its Chief Openness Officer, Dr. David Wiley, as open-education innovators.

The book names Flat World Knowledge as one of the first true "edupreneurs" -- a for-profit company with a disruptive business model for the higher education market. Flat World, the leading publisher of commercial, openly licensed college textbooks, dramatically reduces college textbook costs by offering students the choice to read its books for free online, or buy low-cost versions offline.

"What I've learned from educational technologists like Dr. Wiley, and edupreneurs like Flat World Knowledge, is how open content, open-source textbooks and other tech-based teaching tools can help restore the promise of higher educational opportunities for all," said Kamenetz.

Almost half of college students don't graduate because they can't afford tuition, fees and textbooks, Kamenetz writes in DIY U (DIYUBook.com), published by Chelsea Green Publishing. Open content innovations have the potential to reverse this trend, the book suggests, by making learning materials more affordable to students.

In her book, Kamenetz explains how students and faculty benefit from Flat World's open textbook publishing model: Students can read originally produced, high-quality textbooks for free online, download a PDF for a few dollars, or get a printed copy for $29.95, a fraction of what most textbooks cost. There's also a choice of audio books and chapters, and, for the fall semester, ePub versions for handheld readers. Educators have the freedom to remix, reorder, add and delete content to customize the course material to match the instructor's requirements. She concludes by noting that for the fall 2009 semester, the 40,000 students who used Flat World textbooks saved an estimated $3 million compared to traditional textbooks.

"I hope we can serve as an example to encourage educators, administrators and policy-makers to support the adoption of expert-authored, openly licensed textbooks," said Eric Frank, founder of Flat World Knowledge. "College students routinely spend over $1,000 per year for textbooks. Open textbooks lower costs by 80 percent -- a dramatic cost reduction that improves affordability and graduation rates."

As chief openness officer focused on strategies related to education and open access technologies and policies, Dr. Wiley brings a unique set of skills and experiences to Flat World. In DIY U, he tells the story of how he originated the now ubiquitous term "open content," that is, content that can be reused, revised, remixed and redistributed, at no cost to the user.

It was during 1998, at Brigham Young University, where he was a doctoral student studying instructional psychology and technology: "I was working with open-source software programs, and thought, 'Hey, that's exactly what we need to do with educational materials. Let's call it 'open content.'"

Based in Provo, Utah, Dr. Wiley is associate professor of instructional psychology and technology at BYU, and leads the Access to Knowledge Initiative in the David O. McKay School of Education's Center for the Improvement of Teacher Education and Schooling. He is also the founder of the Open High School of Utah, a free online public charter high school. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and appears regularly in the media as an expert in educational technology and open content. In 2009, Dr. Wiley was named one of the "100 Most Creative People in Business" by Fast Company magazine.

In January, the Horizon Report, an annual research project of the New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiative, cited Flat World Knowledge as being at the forefront of the open content movement, which it called one of the top educational technology trends of 2010. Separately, Fortune magazine's Small Business edition named Flat World one of "Five Companies to Watch in 2009," and Outsell, a media industry analyst firm, named Flat World one of "30 Innovators to Watch" (alongside Apple, Google, and Hulu). Chris Anderson, author and Wired magazine editor, profiled Flat World Knowledge in his latest book, FREE: The Future of a Radical Price (http://bit.ly/page160).

Flat World's growing catalog consists of 20 published titles written by top experts, including popular business, marketing and economics courses. Dozens more titles are under development covering algebra, psychology, sociology, genetics, media and culture, and more. Within two years, the company expects to publish textbooks for the 25 highest-enrollment college courses.

About Flat World Knowledge, Inc.
Founded in 2007 by senior textbook industry executives, privately held Flat World Knowledge is the leading publisher of commercial, openly licensed college textbooks. More than 50,000 students in over 500 universities and colleges are learning with Flat World textbooks. Written by the world's leading subject matter experts, Flat World books are peer reviewed, and professionally edited and developed. Educators have the freedom to use the books as-is, or to modify them to suit their requirements. Students can access the books for free online, or purchase low-cost print-on-demand, audio and downloadable versions, as well as a variety of study aids at a fraction of the cost of traditional textbooks. More information is available at: http://www.flatworldknowledge.com.

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