This post brought to you by Flat World Knowledge. All opinions are 100% mine.
Ignorance may be bliss, but knowledge is power. If you want to come across as an expert in your field, then you need to arm yourself with the appropriate knowledge. And, believe it or not, Wikipedia is not the be-all and end-all of what there is to know.
This is partly why Flat World Knowledge is such a compelling concept. While you could easily spend hundreds of dollars on conventional college textbooks, the premium open textbooks by top authors on Flat World Knowledge are totally free for you to read and distribute.
A Level Playing Field
So, what is Flat World Knowledge? It is the “world’s largest publisher of free and open college textbooks.”
What this means is that you gain access to a large catalog of textbooks on a range of different subjects. Remember that college textbooks can be much more useful for learning new material than a regular consumer-geared book. There is a different kind of audience for this kind of content.
Considering that the average college textbook can be easily $100 or more, having free textbooks really helps to level the playing field. As a blogger, you want to present yourself as an expert on your niche. Reading high quality textbooks by top authors can arm you with trustworthy information from authoritative experts.
Is It Really Completely Free?
There has to be a catch. Well, there are a couple of them that you might want to consider.
First, while the catalog covers a broad range of subjects, it is not going to be nearly as vast as all the textbooks read and sold by colleges and universities around the world. For example, there is currently only one textbook on psychology available. It’s a start, but it’s not exactly comprehensive either.
Second, the textbooks are published under a Creative Commons open license. This means that you can freely read, revise, remix, and redistribute the material. However, the “free” aspect only works when you are reading the textbook online. If you want a hard copy, that’ll cost you about $35 each.
That said, the Make It Your Own (MIYO) platform is a fascinating one for educators. You can drag and drop chapters to make a dynamic table of contents, inserting YouTube and BlipTV content to supplement the learning material. This is great for professors, sure, but it could prove to be a great resource for online entrepreneurs too. Repackage these materials and give them to your clients, customers, and colleagues. The newly published custom textbook is available in HTML (with note-taking support), PDF, ePub, and more.
Quality of the Subject Matter
But how good is the material?
That’s open to debate and it’s open to the extensiveness of the material that you need. Shown above is an example from the Elementary Algebra textbook by John Redden. It offers a simple and straightforward explanation of x-intercepts and y-intercepts.
Not interested in math? Other textbooks in the Flat World Knowledge catalog include such subjects as accounting, economics, marketing, political science, biology and chemistry. The quality and comprehensiveness will vary, to be sure, but these are professional textbooks, even if they are offered to you under a CC license.
Going Beyond the Digital Classroom
It’s clear that the premium open textbooks offered by Flat World Knowledge are geared toward the educational field. They have features in place that are great for educators, like the MIYO platform. This can also save students substantial amounts of money if their professors choose to use textbooks through this system.
Another benefit to using Flat World, is their ability of offer textbook customization, which allows you to completely change the look and feel of your book. What this means, is the ability to easily change, remove and add chapters and edit text with a few clicks of a button. Something that simply isn’t impossible with printed books.
But you can see how having access to this material, as well as the ability to revise and re-distribute it, can be great for bloggers and other online professionals too. You can’t beat the price of free and the instant registration gives you access to a world of knowledge in a matter of moments.