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Business - Written by on Thursday, February 14, 2008 20:54 - 5 Comments

Flexbooks – a Wikinomics approach to education

Set to launch in August of this year, Flexbooks is a new open source model of textbook creation that will allow schools, teachers, parents and even students to create custom textbooks in a way that is faster and cheaper than the traditional method. Using open source tools such as Wikipedia, Wikibooks, and WikiUniversity to create content, Flexbooks allows users to drag articles and images into an easy to use user inerface to create various standards based learning materials.


The project is in its infancy right now but its future prospects seem very promising. The first step will be to pool together a large collection of educational assets mainly through a combination of licensing activities, incentives for community-based authorship, and university collaborations. Following that, Flexbooks will continue expanding its knowledge base and team up with various print companies to provide paper-based materials in addition to its core set of online offerings. 

Why do we need Flexbooks? the makers of Flexbooks CK-12 explain:

“Today, textbooks that are used in K-12 system are limiting, expensive and are difficult to update. Because of this, K-12 teachers find it hard to introduce new concepts and cater to different needs. What we need is a more flexible and less expensive system to create and distribute books and online content. FlexBooks, by their very nature, satisfies this need. They contain high quality online content, and are easy to create, update and print. They provide a new system that will follow an open source philosophy to place content on-line that can be “mixed, modified and printed.”


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Feb 15, 2008 13:18

How does this compare to something like Connections (cnx.org) or WikiBooks? Will we have a more-or-less overwhelming winner as we have with Wikipedia in the space where it fits?

Danny Williamson
Feb 15, 2008 15:30

This is an interesting prospect. From my perspective, teachers have always customized available resources to meet their individual needs. I’m interested to see how this fairly individual process translates into collaborative efforts.

What I’m most curious about going forward is how the initial development will balance maintaining curriculum standards with allowing open access of users. Additionally, I’m curious to see how they will balance the (sometimes) competing educational perspectives.

David Arzt
Feb 16, 2008 20:31

This is a very interesting application of collaborative software and one to watch as the issue of content quality plays out. For starters, it’s a great platform for simply keeping learning materials current, locally relevant and more dynamic. For example, it would be interesting for a social studies textbook discussing the rise of unions to provide links and discussion threads on current issues such as the Writers Guild strike. However, that leads to Danny Williamson’s point of balancing the perspectives on the subject. Should anyone be able to update the content? In this example, do we need to balance the union and management positions? If so, then who actually does that? I think these questions will be answered by the community as this is tested out and people become more comfortable with the concept of shared input.

Regardless of the specific answer, it’s exciting to see collaboration and the use collaborative software in new ways that could benefit the overall community.

the art teacher’s guide to the internet » Blog Archive » Leftovers from NECC 2008
Jul 4, 2008 16:25

[...] and the global economy). She then outlined eight ways that Wikinomics will impact learning (through flexbooks, co-created content, virtual field trips, global competitions, global exhibitions, collaborative [...]

Jun 25, 2010 11:02

How does this compare to something like Connections (cnx.org) or WikiBooks? Will we have a more-or-less overwhelming winner as we have with Wikipedia in the space where it fits?

Now available in paperback!
Don Tapscott and Anthony D. William's latest collaboration, Macrowikinomics: New Solutions for a Connected Planet. Learn more.

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