Kno gets into the K-12 market with digital textbooks

Faith Merino · August 7, 2012 · Short URL:

The e-textbook company partners with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

It’s on.  The K-12 e-textbook market started picking up speed earlier this year with the entrance of Apple’s iBooks 2, and later with the partnership of Inkling and  Now the market is getting a brand new player: Kno.  The company, which has been providing digital textbooks for higher education for the last two years, announced Tuesday that it will begin distributing a line of K-12 digital textbooks in partnership with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Formerly known for its ill-fated attempt to create a single-purpose tablet just for digital textbooks, the company changed course last year and began providing interactive digital textbooks that can be accessed from an iOS device, the Web, or even Facebook.  Kno now offers over 200,000 digital textbooks that come with an array of awesome interactive features, like Quiz Me and the Journal, which allows students to transfer highlighted text, notes, videos, and images over to a digital journal.

The new line of K-12 textbooks will also come with those interactive features, including the Journal, automatic flashcards, 3D models, Quiz Me (which automatically turns any diagram into a multiple-choice quiz), SmartLinks that link instructional videos and images within the textbook itself, and a soon-to-be released analytics feature that allows parents to measure their child’s reading progress.

A surprising number of K-12 schools across the country are adopting digital content that can be used via iPads and iPhones.  Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said in Apple’s most recent earnings call that the company sold twice as many iPads as Macs to U.S. educational institutions.  One independent school in Texas purchased 11,000 iPads so that teachers could distribute them to students to flip their classrooms.  The reduced price iPad 2 has been leading the sales among educational institutions.

Because Kno and HMH just closed the deal and made the digital textbooks available today, no K-12 schools are currently using the platform, but that’s sure to change in the near future.  The fact is: textbooks are expensive.  Due to the expense of buying stacks of hardback textbooks, a number of elementary schools don’t actually allow students to take those books home with them.  But what if a third grade teacher could assign a reading from the book at home?  And—even better—what if he could actually see whether or not the student actually read the material?

Because the e-textbooks are accessible on iOS devices, Android devices, and the Web, students can do the reading anywhere and from any medium. 

And before anyone goes harping about how the cost of iPads is way higher than the cost of textbooks, there are a number of schools—like the Leadership Public Schools in Oakland—that are using donated devices.

A company spokesperson says that the K-12 textbooks will cover the Common Core Standard classes that 46 states have adopted, so subjects will include math, science, history, French, Spanish, and so on.  Currently, there are some 500 K-12 textbooks in the market, and Houghton Mifflin Hartcourt accounts for 45% of them.

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