Friday, April 20, 2012

CK12 Flexbooks - FREE Customizable Digital Textbooks

Image Source
Notes from TCEA TECSIG Spring 2012 Breakout Session

Ope Bukola, CK12 Flexbooks
Scott Floyd, Inst Tech, White Oak ISD

Ope Bukola
New site in beta at

CK12 Flexbooks is a nonprofit with over 70 titles including teacher editions. Funded by a Foundation. Founded by one of the cofounders of Sun Microsystems. Also partnering with for profit companies for sustainability. Example: A company that makes iOS apps uses CK12 content, and CK12 gets a small fee for each App sold.

CK12 founded five years ago with mission to reduce cost of textbook in K-12 market. Created Flexbooks - free digital textbooks. Mostly math and science titles for middle and high schools.

All books are free to use. Books can be downloaded as PDF or put on Kindle, iPad, or other devices.

Called Flexbooks b/c there is a system online for teachers to customize the textbooks. All books are open source, released with a Creative Commons license. Can be edited. Your own video images and local examples can be added.

Textbooks come from an in house content team who authors the books. Write scope & sequence, author books, then have teachers and other experts review the books. Purpose is to make them useful for teachers and align to national and state standards. Correlations do exist for Texas for some titles.

To customize books, must create an account. Only name and email is needed.

Account not required to download a book or epub if you do not want to customize it.

Ope did a demonstration of how to customize books. Editing looked easy. Reorg chapters by dragging and dropping. Edit text and embed images and multimedia. Use embed codes from YouTube, etc. Looks much like HTML WYSIWYG editors in content management systems.

There is a whitelist of sites from which you can embed content. If schools have self-hosted materials they want to embed, they can fill out a form and ask for their host server to be white-listed.

Even has a math equation editor!

If section headings are used correctly when editing, an accurate Table of Contents is created for the book.

Books can also be built from scratch. Can choose to share these out; CK12 will review them for standards alignment as they have time.

Teachers have expressed appreciation for the ability to edit books; they like to pare down info to the essentials.

Everything put into the books should be openly licensed b/c books can be reshared.

To distribute a CK12 book, click Print from your CK12 library. After finished rendering, you can download a PDF of the book (embedded media will be a link out to the web), or can be hosted at CK12 in HTML format (embedded media plays within book), or can request an ePub to be generated for iPad, Kindle, etc. New system coming this summer will allow direct download of ePubs.

Some schools provide digital books to students but provide printed copies for a low fee. Schools in Iowa used Amazon print services and got to a cost of about $6 per student.

Scott Floyd
Twitter: @woscholar

White Oak ISD is part of a consortium called Supernet using CK12 Flexbooks. Experts from different Texas school districts work together to customize the books and align them to scope and sequence and Texas standards. Total of 12 or 13 districts found their master teachers in each of the core areas. Each district took on a book to customize and align.

Paying the teachers $1500 to customize a book: Align to TEKS and local scope and sequence, reorgainze, add better digital content, beta test books with students in the 12-13 school year. They will be able to edit content throughout the year as they use the book. In 13-14 school year, books will be shared out with the consortium.

White Oak ISD will leverage the books because they have BYOD. Supplement with iPod Touches and netbooks for students who can't provide their own devices. White Oak uses the cloud for most services and pays primarily for bandwith and wireless access points internally, so they can use the rest of their money to buy devices. They are also saving IMA funds by not having to buy as many textbooks.

CK12 Flexbooks are great for use with project based learning because they are so highly customizable.