Remix Textbooks the Way You Want With Flexbooks

“Why should we have to pay for chapters we don’t use in textbooks?”  We have all had this problem with textbooks.  There only seems to be two options for instructors when it comes to choosing textbooks for class: get a large book with 20-something chapters and only use 14 or 15, or get several smaller books and mix and match the chapters together and hope your students don’t get lost.  Two costly and ultimately wasteful options.  Oh, and of course, the dream third option – writing your own book… because we all have enough free time for that, right?

But what if there was another way to get the content you want in the order you want it?

What if you could choose chapters from several textbooks, put them in the order you want them to be in… and maybe even re-write several chapters or paragraphs, or even include pages from Wikipedia in there?

And what if you could offer the book to your students at the cost of printing fees, or even as a free PDF?

Sound crazy?  Think textbook companies will never go for that?  Maybe they won’t, but one new company has been re-thinking textbooks and will do just all this and more.  CK-12 has taken online free textbooks to the next level.  Sure, they offer free textbooks as PDF downloads, like other sites.  These books were written by experts to meet national edcuational standards… just like other open-textbook organizations.

The difference here is in what you as an end-user can do with these textbooks. They call them ‘flexbooks.’  All of their flexbooks are released under a Creative Commons license that allows you to modify and add to them as you want.  These changes do not affect the book itself, but it does allow you to create your own custom version.  You can mix and match chapters from different books as you see fit, even adding or deleting content that matches what you want to teach.  You can even add any content from any website (including Wikipedia) that shares content with the same open license.

Then, you create a PDF and do what you like – take it to Kinko’s, submit it to an online “print-on-demand” service, or save it online as a free download.

For now, most of the flexbooks on Ck-12’s site are for high school, but they desire to expand into higher ed and elementary education also.

Matt Crosslin
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

One thought on “Remix Textbooks the Way You Want With Flexbooks

  1. The idea of creating your own textbook (without actually writing one!) is a great idea. I took a quick look at the CK-12 site and viewed the tutorial, which makes it look very easy to develop a custom textbook.

    It would be great if CK-12 could expand to the college level, as well as include some humanities textbooks. I’ll have to keep an eye on this site.

    Thanks for writing about it.

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