The Digital Curriculum Part 2… Eight Amazing Free Digital Curriculum Resources… Time to Explore


Everyone is talking about a digital curriculum free of those hard copy textbooks that have been a part of schooling since the advent of the one room schoolhouse. This is the second  post in a series devoted to investigating resources that can open up a world of digital curricula. First, your subscriptions mean a lot to me so sign up by RSS or email! You can also follow me on twitter (mjgormans) and please take a moment to share and retweet this post. Now, enjoy a visit and discover eight amazing digital resources that will help put students at the center of learning!  Have a great week – Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)

As educators begin to distance themselves from the traditional textbook there is more and more need to find digital alternatives. In this process the textbook of the past will move from the center of learning, while still playing an important role on the peripheral. It is important to remember that we must continue to promote the student as being at the center of their learning. At the peripheral we find unlimited resources including multimedia, simulations, formative/summative assessment, 21st century skills, readings, web2.0, and yes… lecture.

While many educators have been moving the textbook from the center, other find it not quite as easy of a task. Afterall… understandably the textbook and its amazing linear table of contents seemed to have ruled instruction for over the last 200 years. Today there are digital alternatives.  Some are much like our textbook friend, while other take on a different look. Best of all, the resources I have listed for the most part, are free. This leaves funds for needed equipment, professional development, and pay for teachers to prepare and curate for this needed transformation. Let’s spend a moment to see what possibilities exist to bring the curriculum to the digital age while moving the student to the center of their learning. As you read about the possibilities… remember that the free digital textbooks and resources are only one of those important  peripherals that should surround the student. There is so much more, including some amazing resources that do cost and are available from a from innovative vendors. First… lets take a look at the free  (or almost free) resources provided below

1. Khan Academy

As the site states… watch, practice… learn almost anything. There are over 3,100 videos in multiple STEM areas. All are geared to help you learn what you want, when you want it. You will find the categories of Math, Science, Finance/Economics, Humanities, Test Prep, and Talks/Interviews. In each of these categories you will find multiple sub-categories. Perhaps you just wish to apply some formative assessment through Practice by using the Exercise Dashboard.  Now all you need to do is type in a concept or standard and you will discover some pretty cool activities! You also may wish to look for videos or activities using the Common Core at any level of math by exploring Khan’s Common Core Page. Here you can click on specific grade levels and find both exercizes and video tutorials as related to the Common Core.

2. MIT Blossoms

BLOSSOMS video lessons are enriching students’ learning experiences in high school classrooms for students across the globe. This amazing video library contains over 50 math and science lessons, all freely available to teachers as streaming video and Internet downloads and as DVDs and videotapes. Visit the BLOSSOMS Video Library anytime to browse and download lessons to use in your classroom. Every lesson is a complete resource that includes video segments, a teacher’s guide, downloadable hand-outs and a list of additional online resources relevant to the topic. The people at MIT carefully craft each BLOSSOMS lesson to make the classroom come alive. Each 50-minute lesson builds on math and science fundamentals by relating abstract concepts to the real world. The lessons intersperse video instruction with planned exercises that engage students in problem solving and critical thinking, helping students build the kind of gut knowledge that comes from hands-on experience. By guiding students through activities from beginning to end, BLOSSOMS lessons give students a sense of accomplishment and excitement. You can even check these lessons out by standards.

3. Curriki 

This is the community of K12 open resources. Currently Curriki has 6.5 million users and contains over 40,000 K12 free learning resources. When visiting Curriki you will discover an abundance of resources in a searchable database that will keep you coming back.  You may wish to explore over 441 full courses or check out these interactive resources for some amazing formative assessment ideas. Possible you may wish to search using your state standards or  by subject.  Perhaps you enjoy looking over resources that have already been reviewed. You can start learning more by exploring this library of training tutorials explaining how to use Curriki.

4. NROCK

The National Repository of Online Courses (NROC) is a growing library of high-quality online course content for students and faculty in higher education, high school and Advanced Placement. This is a non-profit project, and is supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. NROC  is an Open Educational Resource (OER) and assists collaboration among a community of content developers. Courses in the NROC library come from a wide array of developers from leading academic institutions across the United States. Best of all,  courses are assessed to ensure they meet high standards of scholarship, instructional value, and presentational impact.  NROC courses are designed to cover the scope of topics based on generally accepted national curricula and can even be customized within a course management system. NROC content is distributed free-of-charge to students and teachers at public websites including HippoCampus. Take a look to see what course are available or are in development.

5. HippoCampus

This amazing resource claims to be teaching with the power of media. HippoCampus is a project of the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE). The goal of HippoCampus is to provide high-quality, multimedia content on general education subjects to high school and college students free of charge. HippoCampus was designed as part of Open Education Resources (OER), a worldwide effort to improve access to quality education for everyone. HippoCampus content has been developed by some of the finest colleges and universities in the world and contributed to the National Repository of Online Courses (NROC), another MITE project. With Hippo Campus educators care able to:

  • Create their own set of media playlists from content throughout the site
  • View what content is most popular this week
  • See what media is highest rated

To begin, you will wish to create a free educator account at HippoCampus. After that you will want to download this amazing 27 page PDF file explaining how to use Hippo Campus? You will be impressed with all the capabilities you will have at building your digital multimedia curriculum. You will find resources from Khan, PHet, NROCK, and NOAA Earth Space Science. Course  best suited for K12 subject areas include;  Math  (Arithmetic, Algebra & Geometry, Calculus & Advanced Math, Statistics & Probability)… Natural Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science)…  Social Science (Economics,  History & Government, Psychology).

6. WikiBooks

Welcome to a collection of open-content textbooks collection that anyone can edit. The Wikibooks collection currently contains 2,443 books with 40,980 pages. Simply, Wikibooks is a collection of open-content textbooks. Because the word textbook is open to interpretation, this document exists to help clarify which types of content are acceptable for Wikibooks. For example, The Complete Works of Shakespeare might be considered a textbook in an English Literature course, but such a text would be inappropriate for this site. Wikibooks is for textbooks, annotated texts, instructional guides, and manuals. These materials can be used in a traditional classroom, an accredited or respected institution, a home-school environment, as part of a Wikiversity course or for self-learning. As a general rule only instructional books are suitable for inclusion. Most types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, are not allowed on Wikibooks, unless they are instructional. The use of literary elements, such as allegory or fables as instructional tools can be permitted in some situations. Wikibooks includes both minor and major book-like projects.

Upon entering the site you may want to browse the book categories. You may also wish to explore Wikijunior, a project  to produce age-appropriate non-fiction books for children from birth to age 12. These books are richly illustrated with photographs, diagrams, sketches, and original drawings. Wikijunior books are produced by a worldwide community of writers, teachers, students, and young people all working together. The books present factual information that is verifiable. You are invited to join in and write, edit, and rewrite each module and book to improve its content. The books are distributed free of charge under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

7. CK12 Interactive Book

I bring this amazing resource up because it is a a relatively new initiative. The community at CK12 Flexbooks and Wolfram Alpha have combined efforts to bring you this awesome Interactive Algebra Book. This highly interactive text is perfect for the high school classroom, covering all Algebra I topics, including but not limited to equations and functions, real numbers, equations of lines, graphs of equations and functions, solving systems of equations, and polynomials. The base content comes from CK-12 Algebra I – Second Edition, FlexBook and is enhanced by Wolfram technologies including  Wolfram|Alpha,  Mathematica, and Computable Document Format (CDF). You will want to download the CDF add on. As this partnership grows it is possibly we will see more of this type of resource dedicated to other STEM areas.

8. Flexbooks

I did include this in the last post but wanted to make sure it was added to the list. So… what is a FlexBook?  They may be best described as customizable, standards-aligned, free digital textbooks for K-12 education. FlexBooks are customizable textbooks that teachers can use online,via  flash drives, CD’s, or as printed books. Teachers can even share FlexBooks with other educators and they can also customize them to fit their students, locality, standards, and current events. They contain high-quality online materials that are aligned with national and state textbook standards. Since FlexBooks are online  they are kept  up to date much more easily than printed textbooks. Teachers can use the books as they are provided by C-K12, use only parts of them, or add their own materials along with other content from the web. By now I am sure you understand the word “flex” in Flexbook. When you arrive on the page you will discover 38 mathematics Flexbooks,  34 Science Flexbooks, and  20 subjects in other area Flexbooks. There is even a link to some free SAT Prep materials.

By now you maybe wondering how to get started. First, take a moment and be sure to sign up and register. Next, you may wish to look at the step by step web page devoted to helping educators learn more. Have a question? Be sure to take  time to read over the list of Frequently Asked Questions. There is also a wonderful three minute quick-start overview video, along with a page filled with helpful step by step tutorial videos. Topics of these basic  tutorials include Book Assembly,  Basic Chapter Editing, and  Creating Chapters from Scratch. More advanced tutorials include  Advanced Chapter Editing – Images,  Advanced Chapter Editing – Multimedia,  Advanced Chapter Editing – LinksAdvanced Chapter Editing – Equations EditorAdvanced Chapter Editing – Paste from Word, and a video that allows you to learn how to  Print and Share. Want to learn about a topic that isn’t covered  on the website or in a video tutorial? Sign up for a free online webinar to have your specific questions answered. You will find more information about up-coming webinars at this link. It may also be interesting to see what states Flexbook has already aligned with specific state standards. For those interested in saving money, try this calculator that compares the cost of traditional textbooks with digital Flexbooks.  Apple iPad users may discover more by reading about the ePub format and Flexbooks. These books are also available for download directly from Apple’s iBookstore.  CK-12′s FlexBooks are also  available as Amazon Kindle eBooks. Learn more at this page dedicated to Flexbook and the Kindle, or view all the books on Amazon.

Thanks for joining me in this series devoted to ” Going Digital” at 21centuryedtech.   But that’s not all… future posts will also contain resources on evaluating web resources, Project Based Learning, STEM, Web 2.0, and so much more on 21st Century Learning. I even have a post coming your way that describes over 100 ways to use Wordle in the classroom. You may even find another amazing digital curriculum resource covering multiple disciplines as this series continues! Please take a moment to subscribe by RSS or email! Your subscription means a lot to me and I thank you in advance. In fact, you can also give this article a retweet if you scroll to the bottom! It’s a great way to spread the word and I appreciate your support. Thanks, until next time… start thinking of ways you can enter the digital curriculum. If you know of another great digital curriculum resource please let me know so I can discover and share.  Have a great week! – Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)

4 Comments

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4 responses to “The Digital Curriculum Part 2… Eight Amazing Free Digital Curriculum Resources… Time to Explore

  1. Such a great resource! Thanks for putting them together.

  2. Nic

    Great resources! I love your blog and wiki! Just found a new blogging website you might be interested in blogging about http://www.teacherblogit.com It’s free for teachers–which is something that I haven’t seen often when it comes to building a community of bloggers from one teacher’s site. Thanks again for this awesome blog! :) Best!

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