For learning to scale, time needs to be fluid


This article was originally published on Verizon News as part of their innovation recognition initiative on July 28, 2016 and written by Jason Moriber.  The original posting can be found here: For learning to scale, time needs to be fluid 

A conversation with “future-of-learning” thought leader Jade Roth

During the recent Tech Inclusion NY conference, there was a breakout panel on the Future of Education, which included Zach Simms, the co-founder of Code Academy, and LaTeesha Thomas, the Director of Diversity at Dev Bootcamp, among others. One key point the panelists kept coming back to was how to equitably scale education. With Code Academy, scale is obtained from “community involvement” in which students become mentors. With Dev Bootcamp, the barrier to scale is the cost, and a solution is with scholarships, which is closer to a platform model. Either way, the solution to scaling education is precisely what Jade Roth and Flat World is tying to accomplish, but rather than “education,” Jade would define the experience as “learning.” And the learning is individualized.

Jade RothJade Roth, CEO of Flat World, is part of a movement that focuses on an individual’s unique path to learning. Compare this concept to a classroom experience where a whole class, typically grouped by age, is presented with the same information at the same pace and process. In the Flat World model, an individual learns at their own pace yet with independent study, collaboration and mentorship built in. Flat World provides the platform for institutions to deliver this form of learning-experience to their students.

This past May, I sat with Jade in her office at Flat World HQ. The bright sun blanched a wide white streak across the wall and shone through a glass partition into the main open floor where the team sat, heads down and hard at work. Even though the temperature of this hot spring day was set to climb even higher, I looked out from the large front window of the office and saw that the street was filled with people jaunting to and fro.

Jade has the manner of a great listener, which I always equated to great teachers. She was sharing insights, and had true interest in making sure I not only heard what she was saying, but that I could learn the utility in what she was conveying. Her cadence and tone were succinct, yet welcoming. There was joy in her voice, which lifts any conversation to another level.

I started our conversation with a question about the mobile education. Our Q&A is below.

Jade: I think about how mobility can change education, not just for people in the traditional educational world of K-12, 18-24 years old, but education throughout life. I hate the term “adult learners” but I think about curiosity and what keeps people engaged through life. Mobility is key to that – we don’t think in huge blocks of time, staying in one place any longer. As example, I might engage in work too much, but everything is comfortable and mobile allows that, which is good and bad. The good, from the perspective of education, is that mobility is free. When I think about my parents, I think about two young kids who met at the University of Iowa, had a kid and had to drop out. Education for them was full time, which is still a problem people face today, but can be solved through mobile. With mobile education you have the ability to take content, assessments, coach and administration with you on your phone/tablet/laptop wherever you go, which allows you to finish what you started. This is really key.

Jason: How does this new model fit into the current state of the general, public expectations around education, specifically as it relates to having a career?

Jade: It is not always about ‘can I get a job’. In my view, education is about what I can do better, what I can change about what I see around me, which can partially be ‘can I get a job’. To have mobility/flexibility to go to where things are best for what you are trying to solve is important. When I think about mobility, I think about things that are constantly changing.

Jason: Do you see an either/or relationship between “life-long learning” and “learning for employment?”

Jade: I think of it as both depending on where you are in life and immediate needs. Right now, my daughter is a freshman in college, and her classes are very broad and specific. You won’t say, “what is this educating me towards” from a job perspective, because she is not at that point. She is in a lifelong learning stage. In a year and a half, she will be in a place with more thinking about how she is going to make a living. People have to figure out what are the educational needs that make the most sense at the point in their lives. Most of the time it’s about what is the best route to direct their life.

Here is an example: Think of a teacher in an inner city school…one of our clients uses our platform to provide a master’s in early education, and they have had three graduates complete a master’s in six months at a fraction of a cost. Those graduates are highly motivated people, seeking to advance in their career quickly. That is one kind of learning.

Both kinds of learning have access to mobility and learning, but more importantly than that, both are about achieving your personal goals and making society a better place on a local basis. The person who gets their master’s in early education is in a much better standing to teach a wider variety of needs. The more you know about a wide variety of things, the better you can relate to the diversity in our society.

Jason: Your platform goes beyond borders. Do you have a vision for borderless learning?

Jade: We are a small company; we can’t be everything to all people. We are wholly focused on higher education right now in the U.S and internationally. While we don’t have any international clients today, we have a number we are talking to. Our platform is not confined by geographical boundaries and I think that is increasingly important – not just the traditional semester abroad, but also something for people who are willing to take a chance and do something different, all the while being grounded and doing something they know. There is this wonderful ability to take risks while keeping connections or stability. Mobility does give you that.

Jason: A few weeks ago, I was speaking with coworking pioneer Alex Hillman (you can read that conversation here). He was talking about mobility as layers of communities, beyond borders. Do you see the work of Flat World fitting this model of “layers?”

Jade: In a mobile society, you have to work harder for deep connections. I think the idea you are talking about, a borderless world, is aspirational. We want to get there, but I don’t think we are there as a society. There are too many deep-rooted issues as a society. I do think though that education is one of those things that will get us to the borderless society, if we are able to get there on our own. It is much harder to form deep connections today than it was 5-10 years ago. I think that many of us have surface connections; education is a shared bond whether you are or are not in the same room. You are going through a similar learning, asked to solve problems, asked to work together and collaborate, so I believe education will allow us best to break down those boundaries. Providing a technology platform that enables asynchronies and collaborative work is one of the things Flat World does.

Jason: Could it be that by going through the practice of taking classes in this new way you are instilling a positive way to appreciate the world?

Jade: I think that is absolutely right because you are allowed the independence you need, not always surrounded by people to solve problems but rather learning at your own speed. On the other hand, you have a community throughout the platform through discussion boards, faculty and coaches that you’d have in a traditional class setting. In my mind, you have benefits you don’t get on a campus, in a traditional type of educational setting.

Jason: Is the way you are approaching education more in tune with…what?

Jade: Flat World is approaching education in tune with the way people learn. Some things are hard lessons and you can only work them out yourself, whereas other things you can’t get there without collaboration or feedback. Example: Say you are taking a personal communications class and you have to present to a group – this requires collaboration. On the other hand, if you are thinking through a specific problem that maybe is historical in nature, you have to think through it in a logical sense that would take you in a different direction that you wouldn’t usually go with in the end, forcing you to be independent in your thinking.

Jason: This mirrors a lot of what businesses are trying to do. As an example, there have been experiments with working-space, but it seems like the balance between asynchronies and collaboration is the challenge in the business world. Do you see a relationship with the process you are developing in helping the business world become more successful?

Jade: The fact of the matter is it’s about what problem you are solving today and what the best way is to solve that problem – collaboratively or independently. I’m always suspect when a business chooses one over the other, because I don’t believe life works like that. Our platform allows both types of interactions. The way we built our platform is that there are multiple roles. There’s the role of the faculty member, which is about showing expertise in a subject area. There is always the role of the coach, who steps in and monitors if a student hasn’t been active for a certain amount of time. There are differences in support you need in education or throughout life. Those are the themes as we look at what is missing from today’s education in a mobile and flexible way, allowing learners to engage more than they would on campus…

Jason: Your platform could work well in a different context other than education…

Jade: …Huge opportunity in the workplace with education and community. Cross-corporation elaboration and also to complete what you need to independently.

Jason: Let’s talk for a minute about asynchronicity. Simply put, is it good or bad?

Jade: Good for certain things at certain points. People learn in so many different ways so, in an ideal setting, everyone would have a personalized learning plan. However, this is not realistic. You have to give people guide posts to decide where the best use of their time is and that their time is well spent.

Jason: Is there a stigma around saying, “Everyone learns on their own pace.” Could that be construed as “not as bright as…”

Jade: I don’t think there is a stigma anymore, especially our platform. For one, you are not benchmarking against the person next to you. More so the person is moving at their own pace, since life gets in your way. In a traditional environment you would miss it and have to catch up. Here you are pausing and getting back into it; it is wholly immersive. It’s not an ahead or behind experience, but rather acclimating your learning to your life experience.

Jason: I am thinking about the term “on-demand,” which is more about content. But would you use that term?

Jade: On-demand to me means I can watch something when I want to. We don’t pay attention to that because it is more about immersion in what you are trying to achieve and how motivated you are at that time…

Jason: Immersion and motivation…

Jade: …That also ties back to mobility. When I used to ride the NYC subways, there was something wonderful about it because there wasn’t Wi-Fi during that time. The NY Times was immersive and I would shut out all other noises. If I had time to be immersed in my learning experience, that would work for me personally because I found that helpful.

Jason: Education could be that type of time?

Jade: Yes, it could be that time on your tablet or telephone.

Jason: Will the world become more asynchronistic or less? Will there be more appreciation for time? Immersion seems to be timeless…do you see our perception of time changing?

Jade: Yes, I always think there will be something else that is new. As things evolve and change, people develop a deep appreciation for what has come before. Instead of replacing, things augment and run in parallel. Large bookstores democratized the smaller bookstores, and can mirror image the democratization of education. It is not either/or anymore; it is all additive. This idea of knowledge is building on itself.

Jason: Democratized access platforms…Do you see you are part of a movement? Is there a platform movement taking place?

Jade: Yes, in education I think there is. 10-15 years ago, education institutions decided they needed learning management systems that were perfect for where they were at that time. Today they are actually in their quest to democratize education, which may or may not be met by their school infrastructure. Schools are now starting to say, “maybe it is the right platform and technology for the problem we are trying to solve at this time.” It’s no longer about the next learning management system, but rather the next way to deliver the solution you are looking to deliver to a certain audience. When the first iPad came out, schools went out and bought one for each student. Now, most institutions are a bring-your-own-device atmosphere.

Jason: How agile does Flat World’s platform need to be? Are you building your platform to map to this approach?

Jade: I think that is really important. For any small company, you have to think about delivering something. When we first started, we thought about competencies. We then started to talk to more and more students who wanted more out of it and realized this format is fine for some learners and educators but others want more freedom. Just last month we pushed out a concept of “flexible hierarchies.” We are always looking at different ways to improve; it can’t be so prescribed.

Jason: Flexible hierarchies?

Jade: Flexible hierarchies enable colleges and universities to structure their competencies the way that makes best sense for the curriculum they are developing. For example, a competency in personal communications skills may need multiple learning activities and then a project-based assessment, whereas a competency in accounting may require interactive learning activities and then a proctored exam. The flexible hierarchies enable the school to create the structure that works best for the subject and best for the learner.

Jason: Is there an ideal way these education competencies are built?

Jade: If you always had a specific thought, you would never immerse yourself in something new. Today’s hardware is not the perfect delivery. Virtual reality is cool because it is a novelty and can be cool for a while, but it goes back to the problem you are trying to solve and how you approach it. Some things in education you learn by yourself, some in collaboration – our platform today is just one step on this path and it is not an end.


I thanked Jade for her time and asked the team if I could take a picture or two of their workspace. All were deeply engrossed in their work (as you can see in the photo at the top of this page). I took the elevator down to the lobby, which was packed and adorned with balloons. I asked the building concierge what was taking place. She said, “It was so hot outside today, the building is giving everybody ice cream.”

“It was so hot outside today, the building is giving everybody ice cream.”

Peirce College Debuts Competency-Based IT Degree

This article was originally published on Campus Technology on May 31, 2016 and written by Rhea Kelly, executive editor of Campus Technology.  The original posting can be found here: Peirce College Debuts Competency-Based IT Degree

This fall, Philadelphia’s Peirce College will launch its first competency-based degree program: a bachelor’s degree in information technology with a concentration in networking, administration and information security. The fully online, self-paced program is aimed at reducing the time to completion and cost for adult learners.

In competency-based education (CBE), students receive college credit based on their mastery of specific competencies — the learning objectives of each course. Typically those competencies are aligned with the skills needed to succeed in the workplace. Peirce has worked directly with employers to define the competencies for its new program, “ensuring they match those desired by today’s hiring managers and [align] with the current demands of the marketplace,” according to a press release.

“All of the competencies for which we are testing are directly related to skills that would impress an employer,” said Brian Finnegan, assistant dean for information technology and general education. “If it will not help you land a job, it is not a part of our program.”

The Peirce CBE IT program allows students to work toward their competencies at their own speed, without the need for in-class attendance. Students receive credit for past college courses and relevant industry certifications, as well as for prior knowledge and experience, allowing them to focus solely on the areas they still need to learn. Tuition is a fixed price per term, with no limit on how many credits a student can earn. A dedicated “CBE Coach” helps each student develop his or her own degree pathway, and graduates receive the same accredited degree as Peirce’s other online and on-campus students.

The college plans to expand the CBE model to more program areas over the next few years. It has also rolled out an additional delivery model called Peirce Fit, which “allows students in accelerated courses to choose from week-to-week whether to attend class in-person or online” — helping them to balance the demands of work, school and family.

“We want to ensure that working adults who choose Peirce have the greatest chance for success,” said Rita Toliver-Roberts, vice president for academic advancement at the college. “The quicker our students complete their degrees, the quicker they are able to use their newly realized knowledge to meet the demands of the Philadelphia-area workforce.”

Note: Rhea Kelly is not affiliated with Flat World Knowledge in any way. This article originally appeared on Campus Technology.

About the author: Rhea Kelly is executive editor for Campus Technology. She can be reached at


How Working At The Same Company For 34 Years Made Me A Better CEO

This article was originally published in Fast Company on April 28, 2016 and written by Jade Roth, CEO of Flat World Education.  The original posting can be found here: Fast Company – How Working At The Same Company For 34 Years Made Me A Better CEO

Current trends aside, there are some lessons you can’t learn from constant job hopping.

When I was a freshman in college, I took a job as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble during my college’s winter field-work term. My friends were taking unpaid internships in theater or marine biology, but I needed the cash—something that wouldn’t surprise most undergrads today.

This part, however, might: I was still working at the company 34 years later. All that time spent at a single employer taught me some crucial lessons that served me well when I finally took the leap and joined an ed-tech company, Flat World Education, where I’m now CEO.

As millennials have entered the workforce over the past decade, we’ve seen story after story chronicling their job-hopping tendencies, the decline of the traditional corporate ladder, and the emergence of the gig economy. A recent Deloitte survey noted that only 16% of millennials see themselves with their current employer a decade from now. In 2012, Fast Company wrote about the “four-year career“; by 2016, it was down to three.

Some claim this shift is a myth (younger workers have always switched jobs more frequently); others ascribe it to everything from apathy and disloyalty to ambitionand entrepreneurialism. They’ve bemoaned the cost of training for companies and celebrated younger workers’ supposed impatience for paying their dues or settling for unfulfilling jobs. Whatever the reason, the traditional stigma toward frequent job hopping is fast declining.

It’s true that changing jobs regularly has its advantages, particularly in terms of gaining a broad perspective, acquiring new skills, building a network, and developing comfort with risk taking.

But it isn’t true that those things are impossible when you stay at one employer. With the right company and the right internal opportunities, you can find personal and professional growth that you simply can’t by job hopping. Here are three of those lessons that have served me well in my later career, especially as a CEO.


Today, many of us are measured by nearly instantaneous quantitative metrics. With simple tools and dashboards, you can see if your subject lines get people to open your newsletters, or you can evaluate the effectiveness of a pricing change and adjust your approach right away.

But there will always be business moves that take longer to play out: Decisions as seemingly straightforward as a change to a vacation policy or as far-reaching as a major acquisition; ventures and partnerships that may seem like failures at first, only to have benefits emerge over time—or vice versa. Some decisions may have surprising consequences, for better or worse, that aren’t apparent immediately.

Seeing—and learning to live with—the long-term repercussions of those choices helps you make them more wisely. If you stay at the same organization for years or even decades, you see the long-tail impact of every decision you make. You’ll see when jobs are lost when a strategy goes sour, but also witness how a small initiative grows and ends up as a high-impact success down the line. With these insights, you’re much less likely to make the same mistakes twice.


One major misconception about working at the same company for a long time is that you don’t get the injections of energy that come from a new environment. But the truth is that staying at one company isn’t necessarily static—or even stable.

When I joined Barnes & Noble in 1984, it was a completely different company from what it is today. Over my decades-long tenure, the part of the business in which I was immersed for much of my career, Barnes & Noble College, separated into its own privately held company; grew significantly; expanded into new course material formats like textbook rentals; was acquired by Barnes & Noble, Inc.; established and grew a formidable digital presence; and then, finally, was spun off as its own public company.

Of course, you can experience different sizes and shapes of businesses by moving between companies. But there’s something special about seeing firsthand how a business evolves and morphs into different incarnations. That perspective is particularly valuable if you later join a developing company—you’ll be the veteran who has seen a business undergo not just a single pivot, but a long series of successful transformations.


While it might seem as though staying at the same company would make it more difficult to forge your own distinct career path, over my time at Barnes & Noble, I was able to make unconventional choices and take on responsibilities by building up credibility with my colleagues.

I moved around the country for different roles, explored new areas, and eventually led Barnes & Noble College’s course materials and digital business, launching innovative programs and applications—a far cry from where I started on the sales floor.

Ultimately, and no matter what your own trajectory looks like, building a successful career is more about finding the right opportunities at the right time than about any hard and fast rules for getting ahead. I had an extremely rewarding work experience at Barnes & Noble, but was also thrilled to try something totally new at Flat World when I finally made the switch.

From my perspective, it’s most important to find the right balance between investing your time in an organization and investing in your individual growth. By focusing on those experiences that let you learn and make an impact, you’ll continuously encounter challenges that get you out of bed in the morning—even if it’s at the same employer—for the next 30 years.

Jade Roth is the CEO of Flat World Education, an ed-tech company focused on personalized digital learning content, technology, and services.

Flat World and Brandman University Expand Competency-Based Education Degree Program

Accredited Nonprofit University Adds B.S.IT Degree to Flat World-Powered MyPath Roster

Flat World Education, the leading provider of personalized digital learning content, technology, and services, today announced that Brandman University launched a new Bachelor of Science in information technology (B.S.IT) as part of its online MyPath competency-based education program. Launched in 2015, MyPath is powered by Flat World’s mobile SaaS technology and content solution, enabling colleges and universities to deliver flexible learning in a regulated environment.

“We look forward to expanding our offerings with Flat World in the future and continuing to show employers that a competency-based degree from Brandman means a prospective employee has the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.”

According to the Department of Labor, the IT sector will add jobs at a faster rate than the broader job market over the coming years, driven by expansion in cloud computing, big data, mobile, and the “Internet of Things.” Brandman’s versatile B.S.IT program is designed both for students entering the IT field for the first time and those expanding their existing skill sets. The curriculum requires students to master 39 competencies – from systems analysis to data analytics to mobile development – which were identified with faculty and Brandman’s network of employers. Graduates earn a bachelor’s degree as well as multiple industry-endorsed certifications from CompTIA and Microsoft.

“The continuous collaboration and partnership between Brandman University and Flat World empowers the development of students and learners who want to reach their full potential by acquiring a degree, new credentials and skills,” said Jade Roth, Flat World’s Chief Executive Officer. “As the demands of the job market evolves and student demographics change, more and more learners need flexible options like Brandman University’s MyPath and competency-based education platforms to expand their breadth of knowledge and skills.”

MyPath’s learning platform, enabled by Flat World, applies the latest transformational education technologies, including gamification and personalization. The consolidated foundation seamlessly integrates an adaptive learning engine, direct assessment capabilities and a peer-to-peer social learning suite. An intuitive faculty dashboard offers a direct window into student engagement and productivity measurement. Learning analytics capture student progress to optimize curriculum, while digital badging awards students with real-time, competency credentials. MyPath currently supports more than 100 students, who on average achieve their competencies in half the time they would in traditional courses and save more than $18,000 compared to in-state tuition from a public college. MyPath is approved for federal financial aid by the U.S. Department of Education.

“By partnering with Flat World and developing curricula in conversation with employers, faculty, students and experienced instructional designers, we’re ensuring that our programs are underpinned by the highest level of rigor,” said Gary Brahm, Brandman University Chancellor. “We look forward to expanding our offerings with Flat World in the future and continuing to show employers that a competency-based degree from Brandman means a prospective employee has the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.”

About Brandman University

Brandman University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. As part of the Chapman University System, Brandman blends a legacy of academic excellence with innovative curriculum and strong support services designed for students with busy schedules. The university offers 50+ undergraduate, graduate, credential and certificate programs across its schools of arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and health. Brandman serves 12,000 students annually with programs available online and at 26 campuses throughout California and Washington. The university’s online programs consistently rank among the top in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Visit

About Flat World Education

Founded in 2007, Flat World is an education technology company that partners with colleges and universities to improve learning outcomes through personalized educational experiences. Led by education and technology veterans, Flat World’s services and products include digital learning content, adaptive and personalized courseware, and a comprehensive cloud-based SaaS platform for competency-based education. Across its business, Flat World focuses on enabling its partners to offer flexible and measurable tools that are centered on the needs of students. Flat World works with over 2,200 colleges and universities and serves over 250,000 students annually.

Why technology shouldn’t be king for competency education

by Jade Roth

CBE expert pushes for the prioritization of content on competency education learning platforms.

Competency-based education (CBE) is no longer a new concept in higher education. Community colleges, state university systems, private colleges and institutions around the country and globe are embracing the model, putting the final nails in the coffin of “one size, fits all” education.

The CBE model brings a number of benefits to the learner—from flexibility and accessibility to personalization and adaptivity. We have seen students graduate with bachelor’s degrees in less than nine months, met adult learners who completed  the degrees they never thought they would have the opportunity to finish, and talked to faculty who have reclaimed direct one-to-one interaction with students through CBE’s ability to connect students and professors at the perfect moment for learning.

Because these advances have been spurred by new technological capabilities, conversations around ed-tech and CBE often center on code, platforms, and how the technology products themselves change the learning experience.

When we go down this path, though, we lose something critical. The technology is an enabler for learning—a platform with which the student interacts—but it is the content and the educator that are at the center of the learning experience with the student. In many ways, the technology is the starting point and the content is what makes the journey.

Certainly advances in technology give us the ability to engage students in new and innovative ways. In CBE programs, students are no longer tied to a Tuesday/Thursday 9:30 class, and can move through course material more quickly (and therefore affordably) if they already mastered the relevant material in the course of their jobs or other experiences. Advanced algorithms can also put content in front of students that is appropriate for their level of knowledge, and measure when they are ready to move on.  When done correctly, these capabilities help students absorb content more efficiently.

The Hurdles of tech-prioritized CBE

However, when technology is deployed solely for technology’s sake, it can create additional hurdles for students. For instance, while a new interactive video may be an exciting tool conceptually, if accessing it forces students to leave the platform to download, they are removed from the immersive learning experience and forced to navigate in new ways. As a result, study sessions are derailed.

And, if we design new assessment techniques without considering differences between teaching English and teaching computer science, there is a good chance the result will be generic multiple choice questions instead of interactive engagement with the content.

CBE Allows for Content to Take Center Stage

On the other hand, in a CBE program, because students work through the material more independently then in a traditional course, content has the opportunity to take center stage. When we focus on the content first, we ensure that the technology is deployed in the service of the subject matter: activities can be tailored to specific skills that need to be built for the subject, and assessments can accurately read how students are interacting with the material.

In essence, the learning material meets the need. As importantly, the student moves from lesson to lesson in a seamless way that enhances and facilitates—rather than interrupts—learning.

CBE today is redefining the delivery of education, providing new learning opportunities that place value on the skills and knowledge a student has gained through their life experience outside of the classroom or in prior classrooms throughout their learning journey. It can remove some of the roadblocks that have stood in the way of their education. To truly serve those students, we must always remember why they are there: not to try our new technology, but to build the knowledge and skills they need to achieve their professional and personal goals.

By making content the center of our CBE programs, we can transform higher education and create a learning platform that is more effective, as well as convenient. At Flat World, our affordable and customizable digital content forms the foundation of our CBE curricula, and our instructional designers work closely with faculty to make sure that programs enhance the content they aim to impart, rather than obscure it. But there are countless more ways we can try to improve how we showcase and deliver content. I look forward to seeing our community of educators and innovators rise to this challenge, improving learning outcomes for students and ultimately reimagining the face of education as we know it.

This article was originally published on eCampus News on March 28th, 2016. The original posting can be found here.

News: Flat World Education Appoints Jade Roth as Chief Executive Officer

February 10, 2016 12:44 PM Eastern Standard Time

WASHINGTON- Flat World Education, the leading provider of personalized digital learning content, technology, and services, today announced that Jade Roth has been appointed Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Roth succeeds Christopher Etesse, who will continue to serve as an advisor to Flat World as needed.

“Jade is a highly-respected leader in digital education and has the deep understanding of the higher education business environment needed to scale our enterprise”

“Jade is a highly-respected leader in digital education and has the deep understanding of the higher education business environment needed to scale our enterprise,” said Bill Barke, Executive Chairman of Flat World’s Board of Directors. “We are confident that Jade will accelerate Flat World’s expansion and bring our high-quality personalized learning experiences to more students who can benefit from them. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Chris for his critical contribution to establishing Flat World as a pioneer in competency-based education.”

Roth joined Flat World as Senior Vice President, Strategy and Content in November 2015. In that role, she has worked with the team to develop new offerings for colleges and universities that enable them to offer flexible and measurable educational experiences that are centered on the needs of students.

“Flat World has a unique opportunity to make a huge impact on higher education, particularly through competency-based education programs that give students the option to learn at their own pace,” said Roth. “I’m excited to work with the whole team in this next stage of Flat World’s development, as we strive to provide the highest level of support to our current partners and achieve our mission to improve learning outcomes for students.”

Previously, Roth served as Vice President, Books, Digital Strategy and Chief Product Officer for Barnes & Noble College, holding P&L responsibility for the higher education learning materials product line. In that role, she expanded Barnes & Noble College’s digital footprint, driving double digit annual growth for digital sales, launching innovative mobile apps and a web reader, and overseeing all aspects of product development and product management including user experience and user interface, digital analytics, marketing and social media launch strategy.

As CEO, Roth will assume responsibility for all of Flat World’s operations with a focus on enabling our partner institutions to help more students master the critical knowledge and skills they need to achieve their professional and personal goals.

About Flat World Education

Founded in 2007, Flat World is an education technology company that partners with colleges and universities to improve learning outcomes through personalized educational experiences. Led by education and technology veterans, Flat World’s services and products include digital learning content, adaptive and personalized courseware, and a comprehensive cloud-based SaaS platform for competency-based education. Across its business, Flat World focuses on enabling its partners to offer flexible and measurable tools that are centered on the needs of students. Backed by BDMI and Bessemer Venture Partners, among others, Flat World works with over 2,200 colleges and universities and serves over 250,000 students annually.


Media inquiries:
ICR, Inc. for Flat World Education
Laura Anderson, 203-682-8267

8 Ways to Customize Your Flat World Text

We know your course is unique, just like your teaching style. So why should you feel trapped into assigning a cookie-cutter textbook?

Our catalog is full of options for those who prefer the book off the shelf, but you can also customize all of Flat World’s learning content into a textbook that your students will be able to read in the print or digital formats they prefer.

1. Start with the syllabus.

Keep all your important course documents in one place that is easy for your students to access. You can add your syllabus as a separate chapter with the text copied and pasted into the book, or insert it as a Word document or PDF attachment.

2. Rearrange chapters.

Structure your textbook the same way you prefer to structure your course. Our editor tool allows you to reorganize chapters and their sections by dragging and dropping from the icon to the left of the chapter title. The numbering will automatically be reordered.


3. Add, rename, or remove chapters.

Additional options for restructuring your textbook are available by clicking the menu to the right of the chapter title. These choices are also available for each section of a chapter.


4. Merge content from two or more texts.

If you have a course with a unique focus, you may use content from multiple Flat World texts or any material you collect from open educational resources (OER) or that is otherwise available through Creative Commons licensing.

5. Shoutout to your students.

When you select “Insert Content” anywhere in your text, select the “Callout” option to make a customized information box. Make important reminders about the focus of your course or add other notes and content for your students. Homework assignments and thoughtful questions can also be added using “Exercises” from the same menu.


6. Insert engaging videos.

Your students will be able to watch them within our online reader. The links will also be available to follow for students who are reading a downloaded or print copy of your textbook. From the “Insert Content” menu, select “Video” to copy and paste the URL of any video content you would like to include.


7. Create keywords.

Help your students study by emphasizing important concepts as keywords. Simply highlight a word or phrase and click “Keyword” from the text formatting options at the top of the page. Then type and save a definition:

AddKeyword copy

Your students will be able to read your definition by hovering over the word in the text (in the online version) or from a sidebar on the page (in the print version). It will also be added to the digital flashcards they can review from the online version of your textbook.


8. Think locally.

Take note of news stories that run in your campus paper and other local publications that relate to your course. You can quote or link to the articles as case studies and bring familiarity to a new concept.


Your Learning Content Adoption Consultant can help guide you through any of these customizations. Request a desk copy and let us know how we can assist by calling 1-877-257-9243. We look forward to helping you create successful learning outcomes!

Flat World Education Partners with Knewton to Offer New Suite of Course Solutions

Flat World Education, a leading provider of digital learning content and technology, and Knewton, the world’s leading adaptive learning company, today announced a partnership that will enable Flat World to meet the increasing needs of college students in North America with affordable, high-quality adaptive course solutions.

The new personalized course offerings build on Flat World’s large content portfolio and learning technology to improve student engagement and outcomes. The course solutions offer diverse instructional content, built-in remediation, a large assessment pool and access to a broad array of student performance data.

“Students and faculty are looking for educational options that take advantage of growing technological capabilities,” said Christopher Etesse, CEO of Flat World. “Together we are at the forefront of providing a more personalized and engaging educational experience for students, at an affordable price.”

This partnership addresses serious challenges facing higher education across the globe, from access to attrition. As more students enter post-secondary schooling with varying needs and budgets, student persistence and success is declining while costs keep climbing. Increasingly stretched institutions, many of which are seeing less and less state funding, can use these courses to serve more students, improve outcomes, and lower costs.

“We are excited to partner with Flat World to bring these next generation products to market,” said Jose Ferreira founder and CEO of Knewton. “These new course solutions include Knewton’s full adaptive feature set which will add up to measurably improved outcomes.”

Knewton has delivered more than 15 billion personalized recommendations to over 10 million students on every continent except Antarctica.


About Flat World Education

Founded in 2007, Flat World is an education technology company that partners with colleges and universities to improve learning outcomes through personalized educational experiences. Led by education and technology veterans, Flat World’s services and products include digital learning content, adaptive and personalized courseware, and a comprehensive cloud-based SaaS platform for competency-based education. Across its business, Flat World focuses on enabling its partners to offer flexible and measurable tools that are centered on the needs of students. Backed by Bertelsmann BDMI and Bessemer Venture Partners, among others, Flat World works with over 2,200 colleges and universities, and serves over 250,000 students annually. To learn more, visit

About Knewton

With Knewton, every student gets a more personal learning experience. Teachers, schools, and education companies around the world use Knewton to power digital course materials that dynamically adapt to each student’s unique needs. Knewton provides students with tailored recommendations for exactly what to study, teachers with analytics to better support each student, and publishers with content insights to develop more effective digital products. Knewton was founded in 2008 and has offices in New York City, London, São Paulo, and Tokyo.

3 Ways to Connect with Online Students

Lack of interpersonal communication is a frequent concern in distance learning, because a student’s chance at success can be negatively affected if they feel isolated in their pursuit. Here are three strategies professors can use to build strong connections:


  • Make your own videos. If you want your students to feel a more personal connection, consider taking the time to accompany study units with short video clips. You can also record a screencast as a tutorial of a process you are teaching. Concise, thoughtful 3-5 minute segments hold viewer’s attention and they are also relatively easy to access from mobile learning devices. There are free tools like Screencast-O-Matic that also allow you to upgrade for video-editing and the ability to record longer movies (perhaps for a recorded interview with an expert in the field).
  • Enable students to work together. Although adult learners achieve best when able to work autonomously, there may be some instances where you find collaboration a preferable strategy. To help students effectively work together on a large research project or a communications exercise, share access to documents, slideshows, or spreadsheets through Google Drive. The platform automatically saves any changes, so learners can continue to progress asynchronously and see their peers’ updates in real time. Additionally, students can leave notes to recommend revisions to each other or connect their ideas.
  • Find creative ways to build social media interaction. Many MOOCs and a growing amount of traditional college courses share a unique course hashtag in the syllabus. As an instructor, you could use a hashtag to tweet assignment reminders and encourage students to answer each other’s questions. More structured discussions can also happen through a LinkedIn group. Students can reflect on the lesson objectives in a closed message board while also practicing their networking skills. These exercises may also form connections that carry on past the end of the course.

The emerging segment of nontraditional learners balance multiple responsibilities, frequently intermittent study sessions, and the need to feel personal meaning to motivate their learning. Exploring new strategies to address their challenges in higher education will support more opportunities available for student success.

What creative ways have you connected in the virtual classroom?

Image credit:  “Teaching Online” by Bluefield College, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Why Aren’t My Students Buying the Textbook?

Professors do so many wonderful things for students, including crafting lesson plans, writing recommendations, and holding office hours every week. When you make the additional effort to review multiple titles and find the perfect fit for your course, it can be disappointing to realize only a handful of your students are doing the readings.

We’ve learned that students are more engaged when their textbooks include relevant, real-world content. Here are four of the primary challenges we’ve designed solutions for:

1. “It’s too expensive!”
Textbook costs have risen 945 percent since 1978, finds the American Enterprise Institute. After covering tuition, rent, and all the other necessary expenses of attending college, being able to afford textbooks is a real issue for many students. In fact, a recent study by Student PIRGs found that 65 percent of students forgo buying at least one textbook due to being too expensive, even though nearly all of them were concerned that choice would hurt their grade.

Flat World has worked hard to keep our titles priced affordably, starting at just $24 for all one-volume books. In addition to being available through our online catalog, we also provide access codes that students can purchase using their financial aid at the campus bookstore.

2. “I have to pay more for the study tools?!”
As if the book cost alone wasn’t enough, some publishers use digital add-ons to generate extra revenue. Not at Flat World.

Students can tag, take notes, and color-code important material as they read. When it’s test time, our platform allows them to toggle to study mode. This is a unique feature where all their notes for each chapter are paired with key information for review. Many of our titles also include a combination of flashcards, self-assessments, and test questions for import to your LMS — all at no additional cost.

3. “This book is out of date.”
When was the last time you looked for an updated text? While we never force instructors to use new editions, your students may find more value in timely titles. Our peer-viewed texts are updated regularly by authors who are experts in their fields.

We know many professors have a flair for writing too, which is why every title in our catalog can be customized for your course. Add, edit, and rearrange any content to better fit your focus.

4. “I don’t have time to go to the bookstore!”
72 percent of students are in the workforce full- or part-time. 26 percent have children and 34 percent are 25 years or older, finds the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The traditional needs of students are changing, and we’re meeting them with nontraditional solutions.

Is your campus bookstore bound to restrictive hours of operation? Your course will have a unique URL that students can use to access a digital version of the text on any device immediately after purchase. And for those who prefer print, they can order a physical copy to arrive on their doorstep in 10 days or less.

Are you ready to engage more students with a flexible, refreshing textbook? Browse our catalog and request a complimentary review copy! flat-world-textbook-students