12 kindle high school free textbooks

There’s a really long list of free high school textbooks available at the Kindle Store -

  1. CK-12 21st Century Physics: A Compilation of Contemporary and Emerging Technologies by Andrew Jackson and James Batterson.

    A collaborative effort of the Secretaries of Education and Technology and the Department of Education that seeks to elevate the quality of physics instruction across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

  2. CK-12 Engineering: An Introduction for High School by Dale Baker. 

    Introduces engineering techniques and practices to high school students. This book is designed for a broad range of student abilities and does not require significant math or science prerequisites.

  3. CK-12 People’s Physics Book Version 2 by James H. Dann.

    The People’s Physics Book is intended to be used as one small part of a multifaceted strategy to teach physics conceptually and mathematically.

  4. 9 more free kindle textbooks from the CK-12 Foundation (the link takes you to a page with all 9 listed).

    CK-12 Earth Science – covers the study of Earth, its minerals and energy resources, processes inside and on its surface, its past, water, weather and climate, the environment and human actions, and astronomy.

    CK-12 Advanced Probability and Statistics – introduces students to basic topics in statistics and probability but finishes with the rigorous topics an advanced placement course requires.

    CK-12 Calculus – introduces high school students to the topics covered in the Calculus AB course. Topics include: Limits, Derivatives, and Integration.

    CK-12 Chemistry – covers Matter, Atomic Structure; The Elements and Their Properties; Stoichiometry; Chemical Kinetics; Physical States of Matter; Thermodynamics; Nuclear Chemistry; and Organic Chemistry.

    CK-12 Algebra I – an introduction to algebraic concepts for the high school student. Topics include: Equations & Functions, Real Numbers, Equations of Lines, Solving Systems of Equations & Quadratic Equations.

    CK-12 Geometry – Geometry FlexBook is a clear presentation of the essentials of geometry for the high school student. Topics include: Proof, Congruent Triangles, Quadrilaterals, Similarity, Perimeter & Area, Volume, and Transformations.

    CK-12 Trigonometry – Trigonometry FlexBook is an introduction to trigonometry for the high school student. Topics include: Trigonometric Identities & Equations, Circular Functions, and Polar Equations & Complex Numbers.

    CK-12 Life Science – Covers seven units: Understanding Living Things; Cells: The Building Blocks of Life; Genetics and Evolution; Prokaryotes, Protists, Fungi, and Plants; The Animal Kingdom; The Human Body; and Ecology.

    CK-12 Biology I – Honors

These are some really big books (10 to 20 MB each) and seem like they took a lot of time and effort to write. It’s surprising that the CK-12 foundation is giving these away free and it’s equally as surprising that Amazon is covering bandwidth costs.

Kindle in Education – an entire high school gets Kindle 3s

With the Kindle 3 now at $189 and the Kindle WiFi at $139 it becomes much easier to promote the Kindle as a viable alternative to paper textbooks.

There have been a few half-hearted attempts in the past and Governor Schwarzenegger and other people have suggested using Kindles in schools – However, we now have the first full-scale roll-out of Kindles in a school.

2,100 Clearwater High School students get the Kindle 3

As a pilot for the Pinellas County school system all 2,100 students at Clearwater High School in Clearwater, Florida got a Kindle 3. A lot of credit to the principal Keith Mastorides for making it happen. Here’s a snippet from the St. Petersburg Times -

When the idea was first proffered by principal Keith Mastorides last year, some students were skeptical it would actually happen.

“Especially not this school,” said senior Matt Jonson, 17.

“Maybe a nicer school,” added Adams.

Voices such as these are part of the reason Mastorides said he pushed to make the project a reality — to give students a more level playing field and prepare them for a more networked world.

There are a few reasons this is a great move and much better than the college trials -

  1. The entire high school got them – not just 50 or 100 students. You get to see the impact on students in various grades and we can study the impact over a period of years.
  2. It makes a lot more sense to get Kindles to students when they’re young and haven’t already given up on reading.
  3. It makes sense to give everyone a chance early – students with dyslexia or reading problems will benefit much more in high school or middle school than in college. They probably might not even make it to college.
  4. There are far fewer distractions in high school than in college and there’s a much higher chance students will read their textbooks and read in general. 
  5. From the students’ responses it’s clear that these high school students are approaching the Kindle with a very refreshing attitude. 

Let’s start by looking at the benefits Kindle 3 provides to students.

Kindle 3 benefits for students

All of these Kindle 3 benefits are culled from the various articles written about the Kindle high school trial. The definite benefits -

  1. No more heavy backpacks.
  2. It gets students excited about reading and schoolwork – Multiple students mention this aspect. Here’s a comment from one of the students, Desmond King, -

    “It’s fun to have electronics to learn,”

    “I think it makes us want to study more without realizing it.”

  3. Students get the books required for their coursework pre-loaded on their Kindle. At least some of them do.
  4. There’s an in-built dictionary so students can get word meanings instantly.  
  5. Students are loving the text to speech capability. That feature also really helps auditory learners (thanks to FLGRLinATL for that point).
  6. There’s not really much of a learning curve.
  7. The English Department managed to afford all the books on its wishlist -

    John Just, Pinellas County’s assistant superintendent for management information systems, said that because of savings on books, the school’s English department’s wish list was completely fulfilled.

    “The English department wish list is always that — a wish list,” Just said. “Now they’re all downloaded.”

  8. A lot of the recommended reading titles are in the public domain and thus free.
  9. Long Battery life and quick recharging.
  10. eTextbooks are cheaper than physical textbooks. The claims are 10% less for textbooks and 40% less for novels. That 10% number is depressing – there ought to be far greater savings.
  11. It’s light – The articles say 10 ounces but it’s just 8.7 ounces.
  12. Free 3G Internet means students can check things on the Internet without going to the library or to their PC (if they have one at home). 20% of students don’t have Internet access at home so it really helps.

It reminds me of a study that pointed out that most of the separation between kids from high-income families and kids from low-income families happened during the holidays and when students were outside of school. With the Kindle 3 students get a better shot at continuing to read and study outside of school.

Here are some more potential benefits -

  1. Students read more. Reading more leads to smarter students.
  2. Textbook purchases become more cost-effective. Note that we mentioned one case (English) where this has already happened. The price difference between textbooks and etextbooks will increase over time as Textbook Publishers’ monopoly gradually disintegrates.  
  3. It helps level the playing field. If your school is giving you a Kindle and you have access to millions of free public domain books that’s a lot better than not having money to buy books.

Sources used for compiling these lists include WTSP’s article about the Kindle 3 high school trial and the other two articles linked to in this post.

Fighting off Expensive Textbooks

Here’s a comment from Bucnright talking about textbook prices -

The average math text book in Pasco was $63. each high school student averages 6-7 text books which can also be damage or misplaced. Thats is $378 given to a student every year.

The kindle can stay with the student and update with subjects.

On the surface it seems like a $139 Kindle WiFi or a $189 Kindle 3 is expensive – However, textbooks really add up.

Here’s a comment from a college student (EquinsuOcha) -

Why can’t colleges like mine (Eckerd) embrace the same technology?

I pay $120 for a text book that is out of date by the time the next semester rolls around, and is completely useless within a year.

Textbook prices really are a big problem. Get enough students a Kindle and textbook publishers’ hold over distribution gets destroyed.

Note-taking isn’t a problem – It’s just like texting

Here’s an example of high school students having great attitude -

“It’s just like texting,” said senior Gabrielle Adams, 17, about inputting notes.

“And everybody knows how to text,” Niles said.

Whether the students end up liking the eReaders or not we at least know they are going in with an open mind.

Contrast that with college students in the Kindle trials who were complaining about not being able to scribble in the margins. The expectation level when you run a Kindle trial in Princeton is completely different and in some ways it defeats the purpose - With college students you get students who are already in college and usually quite privileged.

One of the strange things was multiple mentions of being able to add notes on the Kindle. Perhaps students are currently getting textbooks from the school that they aren’t allowed to make notes in. Here’s a snippet from MyFox Tamba Bay’s coverage of Kindles for students at Clearwater High School -

“It’s a lot lighter, it’s easier to read, and you can make notes, which you can’t do in a regular textbook,” Bennie Miles observed. “I think that’s pretty cool.”

It’s good to see a lot of enthusiasm. With the college trials you had students voicing a lot of concerns. At some level they were comparing eReaders against notebook computers even before starting.

These high school students are very positive and hopefully that translates into them benefitting a lot from their Kindles.

Student Insurance Policy

This was interesting – For a $20 or $25 fee students can insure their Kindle 3. If they lose it they pay a $50 deductible and get a Kindle 3. If they lose the new Kindle too then they have to buy a new one themselves or go back to textbooks.

That insurance policy sounds a lot better than anything available commercially – at least that’s my understanding.

Quick Note on Price

At $177.78 per Kindle 3 and with free 3G Internet included the only eReader that comes close is the Nook. Even Nook doesn’t have free Internet. Free Internet is a factor because students can refer to the Internet right from class and 20% of them don’t have Internet at home.

The Sony 650 at $225 is 26% more expensive and doesn’t have text to speech or good ebook prices.

The iPad at $499 is way too expensive. There will definitely be a few people claiming the iPad would be much better. Well, before we can have that argument we need to have an affordability argument and the iPad loses that badly.

Downsides of the Clearwater High School Kindle 3 trial

Well, there are obviously people who are coming up with a laundry list of negatives (it wouldn’t be very Kindle like if there weren’t super negative people attacking it) -

  1. Kindles will break far more easily than books which are pretty much unbreakable.  
  2. The insurance is a cost.  
  3. You can’t read books from non-Amazon sources unless they are DRM free.
  4. A lot of people claimed that the Kindle college trials failed – That’s not exactly correct. The overzealous National Federation for the Blind had them shut down because the Kindles weren’t accessible.  
  5. You can’t scribble in the margins. Would be good to know whether students were allowed to do this in the textbooks they got from their schools.
  6. The cost – supposedly $177.66 each.

The list isn’t very long because most of the negative people have never seen a Kindle. In contrast to the students who are very positive there are quite a few negative comments from people at the St. Petersburg Times site.

This comment from a Clearwater High School student (kread96) is super appropriate -

Ok now everyone needs to stop, saying stuff about the Kindle’s !

because you know nothing about them! yes i go to CHS, and I have one.

They are so much easier than text books. Cheaper too. Dont say anything about them, until you have actually used them….

It’s infinitely amusing that, yet again, we have people criticizing the Kindle 3 without ever having used one. Ever since the first Kindle came out the biggest detractors have always been people who’ve never used a Kindle.

$139 Kindle WiFi = Kindle for Kids?

The new Kindle WiFi comes in at the magical price of $139. The Press are focusing on the effect this will have on people who wouldn’t put up $259 for a dedicated eReader - their theory is that these people didn’t feel reading was worth $259 but will definitely feel its worth $139.

While the ‘reading isn’t worth $259′ people may or may not think reading is worth $139 there is an entire new demographic that will get access to the Kindle WiFi due to its low price – kids.

Kindle WiFi might be the Kindle for Kids

Let’s consider a few scenarios -

  1. You want to get your child to read more. We live in a world where nothing can be proved so we can never prove reading makes children smarter or it improves their grades or it’s a better use of their time than video games. Let’s assume that you think it’s a possibility and want to get your daughter/son to read more – How would you do it?
  2. You’re trying to find a good diversion for your 7-year-old daughter. You have toys and TV and DVDs and games and you can take her to the park but there’s still something missing. What would she enjoy? What would be good for her?
  3. You’re deciding on a birthday gift for your grandson. You’re thinking something around $100 and perhaps it’s an iPod and perhaps it’s something else.  
  4. You’re buying textbooks for your kid and complaining about the prices and weight. You wish the prices were cheaper and your kid didn’t have to carry all the heavy books everywhere.
  5. A school is figuring out its textbook budget. They feel they’re trapped by the textbook companies and ever-changing textbooks and they too are tired of seeing their kids carrying around 25 pounds of textbooks.

We had the Kindle but it was at $259. That’s too expensive for schools’ budgets and too expensive a present for most people. It’s also something you worry about a kid breaking.

The $139 Kindle WiFi solves a lot of that. It’s still breakable – However, $139 isn’t as big a loss and you can definitely trust older kids and more responsible kids with it. At $139 it’s not that far away from $100 and many more people will be buying it as a gift. If it gets your kid into reading it’s priceless. It’s thin and light and easy for kids to carry and use.

You could buy your kid $60 worth of books or a $110 iPod as a gift or you could get her a Kindle WiFi.

Kindle WiFi goes perfectly with Free Books

Lots and lots of what kids read or are asked to read at school fall under the classics umbrella – these are public domain books and we’re spending $20 to $50 a year (perhaps more) buying them.

Get a Kindle WiFi and you get access to 1.8 million public domain books for free. You get 20-40 free book offers a month. You really don’t have to buy your kids many books. There’s a giant heap of books already available for free.

Kindle WiFi can help eliminate the Textbook Mafia

States like California were considering Kindles when they were $259. Now, at $139, the Kindle WiFi is almost irresistable.

We have initiatives for free and cheap textbooks – However, you had to read them on laptops or PCs. Those are neither suitable for reading text nor are they cheap. At $139 the Kindle WiFi is perfect for reading textbooks.

There’ll obviously be people who’ll complain there’s no color and it isn’t as interesting as flying livers singing out their chemical constitution.

Well, do we want to entertain our kids or do we want to educate them?

Besides all the devices with color screens are far too expensive and not focused on reading.

$139 is a magical price point – Kindle WiFi is almost perfect for kids

It’s a mystery why Amazon isn’t targeting kids when there are so many good reasons to -

  1. Parents would much rather buy constructive entertainment devices than video game consoles. Plus kids can use Kindle WiFi for school.
  2. You replace expensive textbooks with cheap Kindles and cheap textbooks.  
  3. No more heavy backpacks.
  4. You inculcate a love of reading at a young age.  
  5. The education market is dying for exactly such a product. At $139 the Kindle WiFi is perfect given the financial environment and the tough budget restrictions schools now have.
  6. Lots of kids who have trouble with reading can benefit from the larger font options and the text to speech.  
  7. The Kindle WiFi can connect to the Internet using school’s WiFi networks. When the Kindle App Store opens we might get apps made specifically for kids.

The one thing Amazon has done that’s great is family sharing of Kindle books. Kids’ Kindle WiFis add on to their parents’ Kindle 3s. The entire family can share books (well, the ones that are safe for kids). You can have multiple family members reading the same book at the same time.

It’s an opportunity just waiting to be taken advantage of – the $139 Kindle WiFi is a near-perfect reading device for kids.

Kindle’s role in Education

It’s worth looking at the role the Kindle can play in education.

As opposed to the Kindle DX university trials, this post is focused on education in schools, and hopefully Amazon changes its focus too. 

  • College is too late to inculcate a love of reading .
  • It’s way too late to fight multi-purpose devices, television and other pastimes that have already decimated attention spans.
  • College students are already used to other paradigms i.e. PCs and iPhones.

My suspicion is that if it weren’t for the lucrative college textbook market Amazon would choose schools over colleges. 

Reality is - even the college textbook market should not be enough motivation for eReaders companies to focus on a high risk, low chance of success market like college education. 

The much better, bigger opportunity is in schools.

People can already see that Kindle has a big role to play in Education

Here’s Paul Allen (not the billionaire) writing about how the Kindle could dramatically improve US education -

I think that reading the right books is the best way to get a great education.

To salvage the failing US education system we should do whatever it takes to get millions of kids reading great books once again.

I think the best way to do that would be for states to purchase Kindles for every student (I’d say 7th-12th grade) in their education system, and to provide great age appropriate books for these students every year

Couldn’t agree more. Paul also points out that the cost of a Kindle and books isn’t huge -

My home state is Utah. I think Utah pays about $65-70,000 for a K-12 education for each student.

The cost of a Kindle with hundreds of the best books ever written in a variety of fields (with a decent percentage of them being in the public domain, and therefore free, or nearly free) would be miniscule compared to this

Finally he talks about the danger of multi-purpose devices -

If the Kindle ever becomes a multi-purpose portable computing device, with downloadable games and other applications, it would in my mind destroy its potential to become the educational device of the future

It’s not just intelligent people – intelligent teachers are getting it too.

Scholastic and teachers ponder Kindle’s Role in Education

There’s an excellent article at the Scholastic website – Will the Kindle Change Education? (via MobileRead)

Thankfully it finds a ton of teachers and gets their thoughts.

Indiana social studies teacher Chris Edwards thinks Kindle might have a place in student backpacks -

“I see it as an update, not simply of the book, but of the library,” says Edwards, …

… has a set of five Kindles in his classroom at Fishers High School, in Fishers, Indiana.

The emergence of the Kindle and the Sony Reader are changing educators’ views on printed textbooks.

Some, like Daniel Witz, a language arts teacher, already think the Kindle is the future -

“For the longest time, distribution of reading materials has been highly inefficient in getting the right material to the right student at the right moment,”

Students provided with Kindles, which can hold some 1,500 digital books, can simply download the copies they need, without burdening a school’s media center, Witz says.

Then we get a discussion of the benefit that Kindle’s Read To Me Text to Speech feature provides -

“Research is saying audio books promote [reading] fluency,”

- says Chastity Pick, a computer lab teacher in Fairbury, Illinois, who says the Kindle’s audio function could be invaluable for special-needs students,

“kids who need to hear as much as see.”

Let’s pull it all together and create two lists.

Kindle in Education – Pros and Cons

Kindle in Education Pros

  1. It gets kids to read more. 
  2. It helps inculcate a love of reading – hence the need to do it early.
  3. There are no distractions i.e. laptops, iPhones, etc. have lots of games and other distractions. 
  4. Cost of a Kindle isn’t huge when you consider what schools spend per student. 
  5. It cuts the price of books.
  6. It increases portability and cuts down the weight of backpacks.
  7. Text to Speech feature is great for kids with dyslexia and other learning disabilities.  
  8. It makes things convenient.
  9. It blends into the background.
  10. Free Internet and Free Wikipedia.

Kindle in Education Cons 

Some of these can be interpreted as feature requests.

  1. The breakable screen. This is a big concern when considering school children.
  2. Doesn’t have an output to transmit screen to projectors and computers. This is an education specific drawback.
  3. The limitation of 6 Kindles on 1 account. Not a drawback in my opinion but teachers feel this is a con.
  4. The proprietary format.
  5. Not enough personalization of learning.
  6. The biggest immediate hurdle is the $259 cost.

One additional drawback has become clear in the Kindle DX University trials.

The case for a reader plus writing tablet

One big piece of functionality that goes with reading without becoming a distraction is writing.

  1. The ability to add notes to a book.
  2. The ability to take notes.
  3. An in-built journal.

Writing is the perfect complement to reading, especially for school children, and we are not that far away in terms of eInk technology.

What does the future hold? Will Kindle play a big role in education?

The Kindle has been evolving rapidly – both device and service. In the last couple months we’ve seen a price drop, PDF support, screen rotation, the Kindle going international and other improvements.

The next big jump for the Kindle, in terms of it becoming a great tool for education, is the evolution of eInk -

  1. We need flexible, unbreakable screens.
  2. We need support for writing and taking notes.

In addition to those two technological jumps there are two things Amazon (or another eReader company) ought to work in -

  1. A device focused on school children. Built from the ground-up with student needs in mind.  
  2. Full blown paper notebook functionality i.e. the Kindle with a journal, notebooks, note-taking and scribbling.

Education is the biggest possible market and school children are the most open-minded customers possible. It’s about time Amazon got out a Kindle for school children.

Kindles for students, 30K WSJ Kindle subscribers

Kindle in Education 

Electronic Readers in Education are back in fashion.

Penn-Trafford district of Pittsburgh will order nearly 100 Kindles. As opposed to college students, the high school kids love the Kindles -

“It has everything,” said junior Jake Hohn, 16. “You can look up different books. If you want to search for something on Google, you can do that, too.”

Kimberly Reevers, 15, a freshman, said she likes the convenience.

“It’s just one thing to hold, and you don’t have to keep flipping pages, and it keeps track of where you’ve left off,” she said.

The Kindles will be used in the school’s READ 180 classes – a course for readers who are struggling with reading.  The changeable fonts should really help students as should the Text to Speech -

Daniels said the Kindles will give her more teaching options.

“If we’re doing a novel that’s not at their reading level, they could plug-in and listen to it,” she said.

In North Branford, Connecticut, School Superintendent Scott Schoonmaker is trying to figure out if the school can work kindles into the school budget -

The devices are more cost-effective than buying and replacing textbooks every year. Schoonmaker said on average, it costs about $200 to $800 a year per student to buy, update and refurbish textbooks.

Schoonmaker said, “When you start doing the math — replacement costs, lost textbooks — it can grow exceptionally.”  

However, with tight school budgets, Schoonmaker said it’s a tough sell. To make it more cost-effective, he is trying to work a deal with Amazon.

Kudos for trying out the plan and even more for trying to get Amazon to help.

Wall Street Journal has 30,000 Subscribers of its Kindle Edition

Last year we found out that the New York Times had 10,000 Kindle subscribers.

Today we find out that the Wall Street Journal has roughly 30,000 Kindle subscribers -

Roughly 30,000 users subscribe the Wall Street Journal Kindle Edition, Dow Jones head Les Hinton told the Paley Center conference Rafat is attending this morning—great for a “primitive device.”

Paid Content has some speculation and broke the news.

$57 million investment in textbook start-up

The Kindle is not the only thing that’s hot in education - textbook rental companies are too – to the tune of $57 million. 

Textbook rental service Chegg raised $57 million in Venture Capital. Chegg are loading up for something big -

In addition to the $57 million in new venture funding, Chegg.com said it also secured a $25 million credit facility from its syndicate of venture partners, as well as recently securing a $30 million debt facility from venture debt providers Pinnacle Ventures and TriplePoint Capital.

That’s $112 million in all. $112 million for a company that rents textbooks – That just illustrates how inefficient the current model is.

On a related note, TeleRead point us to a trial of textbook business models in the UK -

Eight leading textbook publishers, three e-book aggregator and ten universities are working together to test a range of business models for e-textbooks.

The overall objective of the trials is to identify realistic and sustainable e-textbook business models

Perhaps they should ask Chegg to help them out.

eReader News

  1. Google Books Settlement hearing has been set for February 18th, 2010.
  2. Margie Boule has a beautiful article on handling the guilt of leaving books for the Kindle (which she does remarkably well – hardcover christmas gifts and non-Kindle book purchases).
  3. Ronald Burke wants to get his hands on Barnes & Noble’s nook and his rapid purchase of B&N stock has scared the Board into adopting a poison pill. WSJ has a good article. Mr. Burke’s firm has (after purchasing shares) expressed their concern over B&N’s purchase of B&N College BookStores and that definitely indicates hostile intentions.
  4. SlashGear says that the Qualcomm color eReader might have an add-on game controller. Basically Qualcomm want to stress that the screen technology is not just for eReaders.
  5. Someone at Sony (probably) ‘reviews’ the Daily Edition – the same one that can’t make the eReader Christmas Party.
  6. Sony launch their answer to iTunes - it includes music, movies, books and apps.
  7. Time and Conde Nast are already prepping their sites for the new Apple Tablet. Meanwhile rumors suggest that it’s been delayed from March 2010 to 2nd half of 2010.
  8. Network World has 8 reasons eReaders could fail. They’re not bad reasons.  
  9. DigiTimes reports that BenQ (yes, that BenQ) is launching its eReader, called the nReader, in 2010 along with an online ebook trading platform. It’ll be in Taiwan to begin with and then Japan and China.

    BenQ aims to sell 50,000 nReaders in Taiwan and 300,000 units globally in 2010, according to company vice chairman Jerry Wang

    The nReader features a 6-inch touchscreen EPD (electrophoretic display) panel from SiPix, and supports PDF and ePub. BenQ added that it plans to offer color e-book readers in the second half of 2010.

Rather interesting that BenQ expect to have color eReaders out by end 2010 – Has SiPix overtaken eInk?

News related News

  1. Both TechMeme and Google News released Mobile products. Google News for Mobile is available in 29 languages and 70 editions.
  2. Rupert Murdoch talks about how moving to electronic newspapers saves money while James Murdoch talks about how News Corp is looking more to TV.
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