From the Wires
Open Content Emerges as Top "Technology to Watch" in 2010
Flat World Knowledge Cited as Open Textbook Leader in Influential Educational Technology Report
By: Marketwired .
Jan. 21, 2010 01:07 PM
NYACK, NY -- (Marketwire) -- 01/21/10 -- Flat World Knowledge, the leading commercial publisher of free and open college textbooks, is cited as being at the forefront of one of the top educational technology trends in 2010, according to a report released this week by the New Media Consortium (NMC).
Open content joins mobile computing as one of two top trends most likely to enter mainstream use on campuses within one year, according to "The 2010 Horizon Report," a research project of the NMC and the Educause Learning Initiative (ELI). The report is published annually and identifies emerging technologies and trends likely to have a large impact on teaching and learning in colleges and universities.
According to the report, "Open content, expected to reach mainstream use in the next twelve months, is the current form of a movement that began nearly a decade ago, when schools like MIT began to make their course content freely available... open content represents a profound shift in the way students study and learn."
The report heralds the emergence of open textbooks that can be "remixed -- customized, modified, or combined with other materials" as an important outgrowth of the open content movement, and cites Flat World Knowledge as the leading example of professionally published open textbooks.
"We are pleased that the Horizon Report recognizes the impact of our disruptive business model to revolutionize the college textbook market," said Eric Frank, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Flat World Knowledge. "Our open textbook model directly resolves one of the most critical issues for students and their families -- the skyrocketing cost of textbooks."
The issue of textbook affordability is central to the increasing popularity of open content in higher education. With students routinely spending over $1,000 per year for textbooks, there's a growing outcry from students, educators, parents and government regulators who are demanding a halt to the unsustainable textbook price increases of the last decade.
"...The open-content movement is a response to the rising costs of education, the desire for access to learning in areas where such access is difficult, and an expression of student choice about when and how to learn," says the report.
Flat World's open textbook approach puts control and the power of choice in the hands of students and instructors. Students have immediate and free access to textbooks online, and affordable choices like print, audio, and hand-held reader files for those who wish to read offline. And unlike traditional textbooks, educators can personalize the learning experience by remixing, reordering and deleting material, and adding notes and examples. Also, instructors choose when and if to switch to new editions. There are no unnecessary new editions every 18 months, a common practice of the college textbook industry that drives up textbook costs for students and frustration levels of faculty.
During the recent 2009 fall semester, college students and their families saved an estimated $3 million in textbook expenses by using Flat World books, according to Frank. "We're on track to expand to 100,000 students for the 2010 fall semester. By the end of the year, we expect to have saved students more than $15 million."
The open content movement is critically important to building the future of a healthy and sustainable knowledge industry for the 21st century, Frank adds. "Near-term, it helps more people get access to college and keep them there. Looking ahead, it can unlock technical innovation and human potential in ways we can't even yet predict."
To read more about Open Content and the Horizon Report, visit: http://www.nmc.org/publications/2010-horizon-report
About Flat World Knowledge, Inc.
Founded in 2007 by textbook publishing industry veterans, privately held Flat World Knowledge is a leading publisher of free and open textbooks for higher education. Written by the world's leading subject matter experts, Flat World books are peer reviewed, professionally edited and developed, and made available for free online under a Creative Commons license to educators and students. Educators have the freedom to use the books as-is, or to reorganize and edit them to suit their unique classroom 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 about Flat World Knowledge is available on the Web at www.flatworldknowledge.com.
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