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MIT OpenCourseWare teams up with Flat World Knowledge to combine free texts and free course materials

Collaboration among open education innovators creates rich learning opportunities for independent learners.
MIT OpenCourseWare and textbook publisher Flat World Knowledge have teamed up to provide free, high-quality textbooks to learners accessing OCW’s innovative OCW Scholar courses. This is among the first collaborations between an OpenCourseWare publisher and an open textbook publisher and highlights the growing opportunity for open education efforts to reinforce one another in creating rich learning experiences.

“Open education is moving from a collection of projects to a robust ecosystem,” said Creative Commons CEO Cathy Casserly. "Pairing Creative Commons licensed open textbooks from Flat World Knowledge with Creative Commons licensed MIT OpenCourseWare offers students access to a rich set of open educational resources (OER) that can be combined and customized for a more effective educational experience. This shows how commercial publishers can supplement and improve OER with quality assurance and platform support. Here, building on ‘free’ and ‘open’ means lower textbook costs for students.”

Initially, three OCW Scholar courses will be paired with Flat World texts: 14.01SC Principles of Microeconomics (2012), 9.00SC Introduction to Psychology (2012) and 3.091SC Solid State Chemistry (2011). OCW Scholar courses follow OCW’s original model of openly published course content — such as syllabi, lecture notes, assignments and exams — but are created specifically for independent learners, who typically have few additional resources available to them. The expert-authored, peer-reviewed texts from Flat World are also openly available, and provide an ideal resource for this audience.

“The combination of free access to world-class textbooks and the flexibility to modify the material exactly to our needs makes Flat World Knowledge ideal for pairing with the OCW Scholar courses,” remarked MIT OpenCourseWare Executive Director Cecilia d’Oliveira.

Flat World Knowledge, a commercial open textbook publisher and pioneer in the open education resources movement, makes their catalog freely available online, and charges modest fees for a variety of digital and print formats. Faculty are supported with supplements, including desk copies, test banks, instructor manuals, lecture slides and video clips.

“Our collaboration represents a new phase in the evolution of open education,” said Eric Frank, president of Flat World Knowledge. “Through this innovative, financially sustainable model, learners will benefit from a complete package of premium quality material, without the barriers of cost and access.”

Flat World Knowledge also supports the sustainability of MIT OpenCourseWare. A portion of sales of digital or print versions of these texts or ancillary resources goes to support OCW, and Flat World is also providing underwriting support for MIT OpenCourseWare.

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