No more textbook tradeoff
“With a traditional textbook, I always struggle with how much I follow the book and how I want to teach the course—it’s a tradeoff,” said Eric Malm, assistant professor of economics and business administration at Cabrini College, near Philadelphia. “Flat World lets me add my own analysis to the material, so now the book’s a living case study of everything we discuss in class. And I’m more confident that students read it because they can afford it.”
Ross Gittell, professor of management at the University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore School of Business & Economics, and two colleagues, created their own version of Exploring Business by Karen Collins by writing chapters on sustainability and business and public policy—critical issues in contemporary business that didn’t appear in the original text.
For a leadership and supervision course, Dr. Rita Quinton, associate vice president of Daytona State College, selected topics from chapters in Principles of Management, bundled them for her students, and developed quizzes and activities.
“It's great to be able to build a textbook based on the learning outcomes for the course,” said Dr. Quinton. “The material is relevant and the students love having all the format choices.”
Open source software: the brain behind the book
In designing MIYO, the development team, led by Jon Williams, chief technology officer, took advantage of open source software to enable full editing capabilities without the limitations found in other customization systems.
Williams and team solved a major dilemma in textbook publishing —what happens to the professor’s customized book when the author makes updates?
"We figured out how to create a ‘live edition’ of a book so authors and professors will always be in lockstep,” said Williams, who was formerly CTO for iVillage, a division of NBC Universal, and Kaplan Test Prep and Admission. “Now, if professors want to integrate authors’ changes, they can, without redoing their edits.”
Instructors can edit from any browser, without downloading a proprietary editing tool, and instantly see how their changes will look when the book is printed, downloaded orviewed online. The edited books are then stored in an XML repository that allows for searching any part of the text in milliseconds, versus opening up an entire book file each time.
Contributors’ modifications are captured in a reportable format which provides authors with valuable feedback on how faculty and students are actually using their books. As a result, authors are better equipped to make changes to new editions.
“MIYO redefines what a textbook is and can be,” said Williams. “And it gives us the framework to continuously improve our customers’ experience with our products and bring new efficiencies to our business—key factors to our future growth.”
To date, nearly one third of Flat World’s faculty adopters have customized their textbooks. The company expects that 50 percent or more will make use of MIYO during the next academic year.