SmartTech Roundup: Open Textbooks, Phone Learning, Common Core Content

What Textbooks Are You Opening?

OpenStax College, a new non-profit publisher, plans to provide free, online course materials for five common introductory courses using Rice University’s Connexions platform.
Utah announced this week that it plans to offer free online textbooks in math, Language arts and science.
Upper Iowa University wrote on the ways that its offering alternative learning options for students through a blended approach that gives students flexible options for obtaining a four-year degree.

How Clevr Are U?

ClevrU, an electronic teaching platform, announced this week an agreement with two Chinese wireless carriers to provide electronic learning programs over smartphones and tablet devices. ClevrU is described as a “personal tutor” that can suggest resources for students in learning areas that they struggle with.

Common Core Standards Boosts Content Investment

Common Core State Standards are spurring investment in a new generation of content. Apex Learning announced this week that it plans to develop new, online courses around Common Core in math and English Language Arts.
Knovation released icurio, an online resource that delivers Common Core-aligned learning materials to help educators differentiate instruction.
And, last but not least, we got a peak at Curriculum Associates new i-Ready Diagnostic and Instruction, a CCSS-aligned adaptive assessment and intervention system.

The Jury Is Out On iBooks 2, iBooks Author and Amazon

The Wall Street Journal recently reviewed Apple’s iBooks 2, saying the interactive tools found in the books “should have been available long ago.”  The Pearson Digital team in Chandler is hard at work producing a couple more iBooks as part of their broader eLearning strategy.
Others call iBooks 2 and iBooks Author proprietary models to put Apple at the center of the K-12 textbook rather than help it by driving down unit textbooks costs. Many say that the technology looks great, but ask: Where’s the infrastructure for tablet learning?
While the debate around the effectiveness of digital textbooks in revolutionizing education continues, India sings a positive tune in saying e-textbooks can better engage and assess learning among 21st century students.
On the other side of the digital textbook pond, Amazon is losing retailers – fast. Indigo announced that it, like Barnes and Noble, no longer intends to stock Amazon Publishing titles.

Not Light Reading

Nine smart scoring engines each read and graded more than 5,000 student essays on Wednesday as part of the Hewlett ASAP. Nearly all the automated essay scoring engines proved as reliable as human graders if not more so. You’ll get a full report right after SBAC and PARCC.
Check out Smarter Balanced IT specs and you’ll appreciate the challenge ahead for the consortia and states.  They need to add a little more last mile info (screen size, resolution, keyboard, touch, etc) before states and districts can begin improving access to get ready for online assessment in 2014.  PARCC will be issuing an RFP for tech specs shortly.

People On the Move

Craig Silverstein, Google’s first hired employee, is leaving to work Khan Academy, the rising non-profit edtech startup.
Dane Linn, Education Division Director at the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices, is moving on to new adventures. He made big contribution by keeping the NGA policy recommendations forward leaning and equity seeking.
Tom is visiting the second cohort of 10 edu-startups at ImagineK12 today.  You’ll get a full review on demo day.

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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1 Comment

jim miller

I think Open textbooks have heralded a new paradigm in education, offering new opportunities no not just bring down the costs of textbooks but also in some cases, like CK-12 FlexBooks (, improve the quality and flexibility of textbook. Utah Open Textbook project in association CK-12 is a very promising step for other states to follow- leveraging quality OERs to bring down the cost of learning and improve its quality. What tools like FlexBooks do is allow personalization of content and it is now widely accepted that personalized learning the best form of education.

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