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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Update on Flat World Knowledge

I am on the PR list for Flat World Knowledge (FWK), so I get to hear some of what is happening in their space. The company recently announced 17 new author titles under contract. FWK also begins beta-testing this week in live classrooms on 20 campuses, so expect to hear more news later this fall if the initial pilots are successful.

Among the sample titles in the first pilot are:
  • Launch! Advertising and Promotion in Real Time - by Michael Solomon,Lisa Duke & Nizan
  • Exploring Business - by Karen Collins
  • Principles of Microeconomics - by Libby Rittenberg & Timothy Tregarthen
  • Fundamentals of Income Tax Theory and Practice - by Dieter Kiefer
FWK has an interesting business model, and was recently sited by the recent PIRG study as being a good example of how to do digital content delivery in a way that reduces costs for students. FWK does offer the full textbook for free in digital format. If students want the content in another format (e.g., print) then there is a charge. There is also cost for ancillaries, such as assessment tools or other elements.

The quality of the books should be comparable to first editions of other leading textbooks, given the authors involved and FWK's usage of some traditional editing and reviewing processes. That is something many other open access or open content approaches are missing.

It will be interesting to see how the beta-tests go. There has been a fair amount of media attention, and so there will be a little more pressure for a positive outcome. It will be particularly interesting to see if the business model is, in fact, sustainable.

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