FlexBooks, PDF’s, and Reading a Textbook

CK12 Frustration Level: 10, yes the highest on this scale.

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.

PDF’s ?

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?

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