CK-12: Online Digital Textbooks With Built-In Assessments and Much More
by Debbie Jensen, Baldwin Park Adult and Career Education
What do you want most as a teacher? The answer is usually to be able to meet the needs of each student. Alas, for the most part, traditionally we have had to be satisfied with the needs of the majority, knowing some needy students slip through the cracks. Enter, technology! Things have gotten better. Today with the help of technology, we can individualize assignments and offer them in more than one modality. But these days think better still. Now there are customizable digital textbooks with interactive content including adaptive practice, simulations, interactives, and study guides. It is CK-12 and it is free, Open Educational Resources (OERs).
At CK-12, they recognize that “All people everywhere learn in their own way.” Education, at its best, should assist that learning, so CK-12 has accepted that challenge. They join technology and quality content. Then they equip students and teachers with everything they need to access the resources and assess student learning. To top it all off, they have created a platform for you to take their existing content and modify or add to it. You can even start from scratch with a blank FlexBook 2.0 and create your own resources.
When I asked Carl Haley from CK-12 what they wanted everyone to know, he said, “We like talking about CK-12 as a learning platform. Before people only thought of us as digital textbooks. Now we have the FlexBook 2.0 learning platform integrating curriculum, interactives, feedback throughout the lesson, adaptive practice and suggestions for filling in learning gaps.” Isn’t that amazing!
Let’s take a look - CK-12 Certified Educator Program Registration
As you can see, they have a lot of subjects available. Their first digital efforts were in the STEM courses: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. But they have branched out to include courses made by community partners.
Their resources include FlexBooks 2.0, regular FlexBooks (their original books), Adaptive Practice, Simulations, PLIX (which stands for Play, Learn, Interact, and eXplore), and Study Guides. They also have concepts grouped by Common Core and NGSS standards. They want to help you use their resources through webinars and discussion groups.
Their textbooks have always included interactive activities and quizzes, but recently they ramped it up in their Flexbook 2.0 series. These textbooks have added simulations, real world examples, and practice that adapts to the student’s performance. They use artificial intelligence to first recognize what the student does not understand, and then adapt the digital response to the student’s needs.
FlexBook 2.0 is their premier resource. And it is a marvel from start to finish.
This is CK-12 Biology for High School. You can make a copy and put the picture of your school on the cover. You can customize your copy by rearranging, deleting, and even adding lessons. Think of individualized projects! You could have students prepare examples of the concept from your own environment and add them to the book.
Drop down menu of commands includes Assign, Add to Library, Customize, Add to FlexBook 2.0, and Share to Class.
Here is an overview of the chapters in one section. If we choose the first one, you will see that CK-12 offers multiple ways to learn the concept, Scientific Method.
The first one is a TED Talk on How Simple Ideas Lead to Scientific Discoveries. You could use this as a class introduction to the topic.
If you open the lesson and scroll down, you find more media, ending with the Practice.
The Adaptive Practice does that very thing; it adapts. Questions get harder or easier depending on the student’s answers.
More features: PLIX which stands for Play, Learn, Interact, and eXplore.
Both PLIX and simulations allow students to learn in new ways, exploring and interacting with the concepts. These simulations are from the Physics Section.
I don’t usually hold out study guides as innovative ideas, but here they work along with the student. In the text itself, students can underline and annotate as they go. Example: Basics of Real Numbers Study Guide
Create a FlexBook of Your Own
To create your own Flexbook, first find the FlexBook you are interested in having a copy of. You can search from the Subjects Menu or Explore. Click on Choose. The dropdown menu includes Assign, Add to Library, Customize, Add to Flexbook, and Share to Class. If you select Add to Library, you “save” it to work on later. To begin working on the text, select Customize.
This opens the book to be edited. You can change the title, add a different cover picture, rearrange lessons, modify, or add your own. This is done using the editing tools at the right of each lesson title. You can Edit, Delete, and Move each lesson.
Here is my FlexBook created from the CCSS Grade 6 Mathematics course. The cover is my own school and the title of the book is our school name.
Once you have decided on the resource (your newly created Flexbook or just a lesson you like), how to deliver it? You know what you want to assign and now you have choices. Do you want to store the text at CK-12 and link to it? Then create a class. CK-12 assists in record keeping and evaluating student progress. Or you can use an LMS (Learning Management System).
Whether it is through the district or just in your own class, CK-12 integrates with various Learning Management Systems including Google Classroom, Schoology, Canvas, Clever, ItsLearning, Edmodo, Blackboard, and ClassLink. In Google Classroom, grades are automatically reported into the Google Classroom gradebook.
Assignments can be made for the entire class or differentiated for groups to create personalized learning for students like never before.
One last feature that is wonderful. They are creating FlexBooks in Spanish! There are so many wonderful resources to choose from.
I remember the first conference I went to where they demonstrated 3-D Printers. I was intrigued. How could I use one in my classroom? It seemed like science fiction in action. I have since become much more attuned to the technology available to us and to the ways it can engage our students and accelerate their learning. CK-12 is cutting edge. It is the future, and you can bring it into your classroom today.