Traditional textbooks are expensive. In public schools, it is normal for textbooks to be reused throughout a number of years until they need replacement. In some schools, textbooks are thrown away after the school year ends. If you are a teacher reading this article, those books can be donated to our “KinaBOOKasan Project”, an initiative that encourages private schools and organizations to donate their books to the ones who need it.
So now, let’s talk about open textbooks. By definition, open textbooks are textbooks that have been funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed. They can be in print or digital. Some open textbooks can be revised to meet the curriculum required by educational institutions or regulatory bodies such as the Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education. There are open libraries where you can browse for open textbooks, such as the Open Textbook Library for those teaching or learning in higher education. For those teaching or learning in basic education, SK-12 Foundation has been providing free online textbooks as well as other open educational resources (OERs) such as videos, exercises, and interactive games. They also offer a free learning management system (LMS) allowing you to create a virtual class so that you can easily manage and integrate CK12 resources.
How does it work?
First, you need to create an account as a teacher and then create a new class before you can assign resources to your virtual class such as open textbooks. As of this writing, a majority of open resources available in CK12 public domain are for the subjects of Science, Math, and English. There are also resources for Social Studies, Astronomy, Health, Photography, and Technology. But their virtual class works perfectly fine with other LMS providers. Once you have your class, you can go to “Subjects” and explore the content you are looking for. They have a term for their open textbooks and they call them “flexbooks” because it is possible for you to customize those digital textbooks to meet your learners’ needs and the intended curriculum. Beyond this open textbook feature by CK12, they also provide study guides, adaptive practice, simulations, and a discussion forum to ask questions and share ideas.
In traditional settings, it’s difficult to treat students as individuals due to limited time and resources. But under this flexible learning option with open textbooks, students take their learning as a personal journey. With its flexibility, we are able to value students’ unique differences and pace of learning.