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Free K-12 Text Books

The CK12 project is developing free (CC by SA) textbooks for the K-12 market (with a current focus on the early years of high school) [1]. Their primary aim seems to be flex-books – text books that can be localised and modified to better suit the needs of the students. But of course there are many other benefits, according to my best estimates storing text books on an ebook reader or one of the lighter NetBooks is necessary to avoid childhooh back injuries [2].

Another major benefit of flexible text books is the possibility of teaching a wider range of subjects. A subject does not need the level of interest that is required to get a publishing contract (which generally means acceptance by the education department of a state) to have a text book. Independent schools and home-schoolers can select subjects that are not in the mainstream curriculum.

The information for potential authors of text books is here (they didn’t make it particularly easy to find) [3].

One thing I would like to see is a text book about computer security. I really don’t think that this would be an overly difficult subject for an 11yo who is interested in computers. When I was 11 I read a text book on nuclear physics in the form of a comic book, I don’t think that computer security is inherently more difficult or harder to teach than nuclear physics. Naturally full coverage would require several texts aimed at different ages. But that’s possible too. It would probably be easiest to start with an age of ~16. Also as computer security is a subject that is both difficult at one end of the scale and essential at the other it would be necessary to have A and B streams (as is done with maths in the Australian education system).

Please leave a comment if you are interested in participating in the development of computer security related text books. Incidentally it would be good to get a contributor who has had experience in teaching teenagers even if they don’t have any knowledge of computer security – I don’t expect to find someone with good technical skills and teaching experience.

2 comments to Free K-12 Text Books

  • Yes, this is a very good idea. My uncle was a Nuclear Phyisicist, and at age 12 i was given full access to his library. At that age, it did not scare me at all. He was the Libarian at the Technical University Delft, and back in 1966 i found it so cool that he could punch in a number at his computer, and five minutes later the ordered book would come sliding down an amazing spiral chute. At that time, the minimum weight of any supported book would be about 5 kilos or about 11 LBS.

    I strongly feel that anybody who uses computers as a novice or advanced user, should be aware that about 1-2 billion (!) users are online simultaneously. This makes the internet of today one of the most ┬┤cloud-computing` based keyloggers ever invented ;-)

    So the younger you start, the less confusing. Let the children play!

    Thank you Russell, for the inspiration. And say hello to some of the Saltwater Crocodiles, swimming back an forth between Arnhem Land and Irian Papua.

    ~remmolt

  • I would also encourage you to consider Connexions (http://cnx.org/) as a place to host these books. Modules in the Connexions repository use the CC-by (attribution) license, freeing up additional possibilities for using the content, and also provide PDF versions of the text that can be printed/downloaded/shared/etc. for those wishing to use content offline. I’d be happy to give you or your colleagues a demo if you’re interested.

    As far as authoring help, I don’t have much to offer on the advanced end of the spectrum but spent several years working in tech support in my previous life, and would be happy to provide assistance on the end-user basics if you’re interested. This would mostly fall under best practices and what I refer to as “(un)common sense”, such as remembering to identify the source of profit from a free service (“if they don’t ask for my money, does that mean they’re selling my info?”).

    Whoever you end up going with, I wish you the best of luck – we definitely need more authors like you who are willing to consider open education, and I think this is a great way to make a valuable contribution.