- The CK12 content is simply too inconsistent to use. There are just too many content errors to sort through and fix. Perhaps, much of it is fine for a conceptual based class where accuracy is secondary, but I cannot abide that. In addition, there are too many content gaps. If I am going to be left writing entire sections to fill in important details (equations with no solution, or special solution sets for compound inequalities), then what’s the point. I will probably point to some CK12 content for supplementary practice, but that’s about it.
- The only way to track student practice and progress with practice is to create assignments. That is a laborious process if I want to set up more than one or two practice assignments. Perhaps, I don’t want to set them with fixed dates? The official word is that it jeopardizes student privacy. I don’t see how. If I create accounts, and the students use those accounts, who else has access? Why shouldn’t I be able to see any of the progress my students make with any practice. This is where IXL gets it right.

It certainly takes some effort to find exactly the right sections to use. For example, the sections on two-step equations from the existing algebra flexbooks jump into complex equations with fraction bars right at the beginning. Digging deeper, I found four separate sections that go through , , , and . While I will likely cover all of those in one lesson, it is handy to have discrete sections that explain each situation.

Other content is much more difficult to find. There are some great discussions about solving multi-step equations, but as I previously noted, there seem to be no examples of “no solution” or “all real numbers” for linear equations. I am left to write that content myself.

Piecing together a chapter on inequalities is proving to be more difficult. Single-step with addition and subtraction? No problem. Multiplication and division? Not so great. I cannot abide inaccuracies like this:

“Then, divide both sides of the inequality by -1 to solve for the variable ‘x.’”

The second to last statement creates a false mathematical sentence. This is an unfortunate error that can propagate inaccuracies in student work. To many, it might seem like a small error, but I emphasize accuracy and proper technique in my classes. I have decided to be a good citizen and submit errors as I encounter them now.

]]>Powers: When explaining base and exponent of a power, you likely would use an example where the base and exponent are different numbers; that helps avoid confusion. For example, something like is a good power for this. But, in a section called “Powers and Exponents” for 6th grade is this:

This might not be so bad if it were not stuck into the text as an image (the exact image I have here). If it were LaTeX, it would be a simple edit.

]]>Content-wise, I have mixed feelings about what I am finding available. For example, in the Honors Algebra course, there is some lovely discussion about the real number system, particularly with using proper set notation. Algebraic processes are generally well-explained.

On the other hand, text like this concerns me: “As well, absolute value is always written as |*x*|. Using this notation can be translated as “the positive value of *x*”. Um, what about zero? Then, further on, “Keep in mind that the absolute value is the positive value of *x*.”

I realize that colloquially most people don’t care to differentiate positive from nonnegative, but if we are going to have an accurate textbook, proper terminology is important.

Further in the section on absolute value equations and inequalities is this confusing sentence: “So the linear equation has two solutions when there is an absolute function.” Yes, for that particular equation there were two solutions, but in general there can be zero, one, or two solutions. The use of “function” in this context is also bothersome.

In perusing three different algebra flexbooks, I did not run across multi-step equations with variables on both sides that have infinitely many solutions or no solutions. Perhaps I missed something, but this strikes me as a pretty significant topic. Seriously, most decent pre-algebra textbooks address those situations.

]]>I tried resaving pdf’s – no go on that. I ended up having to view the file in the FlexBook Reader and take screen shots. I copied the division problems as graphics and pasted them into my pdf’s. That was annoying.

Remind me – why didn’t I just order textbooks? The good ones that I have used have plenty of interactive elements, videos, and tons of resource materials. This CK-12 experiment is not looking so good.

]]>That is fine, as it were, for links that actually exist. When a link to an answer key goes nowhere, well then, that is another ball of wax. I guess I am left to hunt it down, assuming it actually exists somewhere or to write my own answer key. Sigh, this is why just buying textbooks is so much easier.

]]>There are embedded thumbnails in the pdf that should be clickable links to videos and practice modules. Even though the entire book can’t be downloaded as a pdf, CK12 can generate each of the 12 chapters, but then none of those embedded links work.

If I download individual sections, those links mostly work, giving me about 120 pdf’s that need to be stitched together. And, still some of them are broken, and I need to fix them by hand. If you do not have a full version of Acrobat or some other pdf editor, then you are SOL. And, no, requiring Internet access to use the FlexBook is not a viable option.

To add insult to injury, every single one of these sections has a title heading “Chapter 1.” Each section is named correctly, **but they are all chapter 1!**

Thoughts?

]]>A textbook is pretty pointless if a student can’t read it. After gathering all of the CK12 content that should be in a textbook, the temptation is to just print the stupid thing. Distributing an actual FlexBook is pretty nightmarish.

Expecting students to have a specific technology available or always online access is discriminatory, and well, just plain stupid. FB version 2 essentially requires constant online access. So, let’s start with that. *If you want students to have offline access to the textbook content, you must use FlexBook version 1.* It is as simple as that. FB1 lets a student open it in the FlexBook reader in Chrome (also Opera on the PC, not sure about other browser/computer options). From there, the student can download the content for use offline. Where it stores the data locally is convoluted, so you are pretty much stuck reading it from inside the browser.

In the “Reader,” a student can click on the interactive contents (practice, videos, PLIX), and a separate window opens successfully, *if the student is online.*

So, how do you make the content available to students this way? They need accounts for CK12, which must then be added to a “class,” and the FlexBook needs to be shared with the class. How many accounts and Web sites do your students already need access to? Well, add this to that pile. If you make any changes to the FB, you need to reshare it and delete the old one. If a student already downloaded it of offline use – – well, SOL for them, unless they figure out how to delete it and redownload it.

Saving the whole thing as a PDF seems like a much better workaround, eh? Well, it is a total piece of crap. First, to get a pdf of the entire book, you click download pdf and wait for an email. I just get emails that say, “The PDF generation for . . . is unsuccessful.”

Saving and downloading a single chapter works a bit better, but it requires waiting for the email link. Downloading a single section is immediate, but you need to fill out a form asking about the grade level, subject, school, etc.

But wait, there’s more! Links to external content simply do not work from the pdf’s. An occasional link to a video might work, but most go to non-existent sites. If you have the full version of Acrobat and lots of time on your hand, you could go through and delete the URLs and add new links on your own, using the links from the FB on the CK12 Web site, but seriously, who has that kind of time?

]]>I spent the better part of the past two days creating a FlexBook to use as a textbook for a 6th grade math class. While most of the content available at CK12 is pretty good, putting it together into a usable form is kind of a nightmare.

The first choice is whether to use an existing FlexBook and edit it or to start from scratch. I ended up a bit in the middle. I created a new FlexBook and then added content from other FlexBooks. Some of the added content was entire chapters, which I then stripped down or reordered, and other content was from other locations at CK12.

Reordering content should be a fairly straightforward process, right? Ha! In the edit mode, you can add a chapter heading and then drag sections into the chapter and reorder them. The interface is so wonky, though, and it meant trying over and over to drag sections to just the right spot. Eventually, with a steady hand (and mouse) and careful aiming, it is mostly possible.

CK12 claims autosaving of edits. That is not really true. It looks like edits to content (changing the text of a “read,” for example) seems to save okay, but adding chapters or sections requires a dedicated click on “SAVE,” which then takes you out of the editing mode. This is problematic if you forget to save after reordering sections and choose to add new content. Then, when you click save, it will not have the new content, reverting back to the previous version.

Next, we can take a look at distribution of a FlexBook, a new nightmare of its own.

]]>The first issue is deleting all of the assignments that were created when I tried to give access to the customized FlexBook.

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