Looking to expand its digital site licensing program, Flatworld Knowledge has entered into a joint pilot program with the university system of Ohio that will give 1,000 Ohio students access to digital textbook content for free.

Chancellor Eric D. Fingerhut said, “The university system of Ohio works hard every day to provide students with low-cost options that promote student learning. This innovative pilot will evaluate cost-effective options for Ohio college students and set the stage for significant system-wide savings.”

The Ohio Board of Regents purchased 1,000 licenses for digital texts and study aids and will use them to encourage students to use digital textbook content and help keep the costs of textbooks down. Faculty who select Flat World Knowledge texts for their courses will also participate in a research project on student learning. Faculty and students will also participate in a series of best practices workshops that will teach them how to best use digital content.

The digital files in the Flat World Knowledge program do not expire and do not contain DRM, so students can share content and transfer the digital content to other devices. Students that still prefer paper and print books can purchase a low-cost paperback version of the textbook. Schools in the program include Miami University of Ohio, Columbus State Community College, Kent State, Ohio University and the University of Toledo among other Ohio universities.

Flatworld Knowledge has an unusual textbook program, offering its textbooks online for free and selling a wide variety of low-cost digital formats—from e-books to audiobooks, PDFS and interactive study aids—based on the original text content. The company has signed similiar site license deals at Virginia State University and Baruch College in New York City.

“This new partnership creates a framework for reducing college costs and improving learning outcomes,” said Eric Frank, president and cofounder of Flat World Knowledge.