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.