The Ohio Board of Regents has recently announced that they will continue their partnership with textbook publisher Flat World Knowledge. The new agreement builds upon a pilot that was conducted in spring 2012 to make textbooks more affordable and enhance access and learning outcomes for college students.

During the spring pilot, the Board of Regents purchased 1,000 seat licenses to Flat World’s course content for several participating Ohio schools, including the University of Akron. Participants were granted access to Flat World’s collection of openly licensed digital textbooks and study aids for several introductory courses. The goal was to encourage faculty and students to try out Flat World’s new digital textbook model and significantly lower textbook costs for students.

Out of the 1,000 open seats in the pilot, 987 students participated and each of them saved an average of $122.95 on their textbooks. In total, the calculated savings for the pilot was as estimated $121,000.  A survey was also sent out to the students and 78 percent responded positively, saying that their open textbook was the same as or more engaging than other textbooks they have used. In addition, the e-textbooks will never expire and instructors are allowed to edit and adapt the content to their courses.

The new agreement, which is effective for the 2012 fall semester, allows all University System of Ohio universities and community colleges to participate in Flat World’s new open textbook model. The purpose of the agreement remains similar to the goal of the pilot, which is to expand the use of affordable textbooks among faculty and students and ultimately drive down the cost of higher education for students. The agreement will also provide administrators with valuable data about the impact of this new model on student retention and learning outcomes.

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