Getting eBooks into Schools

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Getting eBooks into Schools

'Gobstopper' gives way to 'Curriculet' as startup partners with HarperCollins

By Betsy Corcoran (Columnist)     Nov 19, 2013

Getting eBooks into Schools

Many of the thousands of schools that have snapped up tablets this past year face a daunting problem: What to do with them?

Putting books on tablets seems appealing, depending on the price and complexity of the content. Textbooks--and digital course curriculum--has gotten plenty of attention. But what about all those books students read in English class?

Curriculet, formerly called Gobstopper, offers up its answer today. The San Francisco-based startup, which gives teachers a way to add their own commentary and quizzes into digital books, is teaming with Harper Collins to make more e-books available at low prices for schools. Curriculet works on any mobile platform with a browser.

In the deal announced today, schools will be able to purchase "circulations of e-books" for either three-months or a year at a time. Typically the books will cost $1.99 per book per student for three months of usage or $2.99 per book per student for a year. (Expect sales, too, such as .99 per student per book for three months.)

Jason Singer, founder and CEO of Curriculet, promises there will be a significant--and interesting--collection of available books. "It will be all of [Harper-Collins'] most popular back list titles for schools," he told EdSurge. "We are still waiting on the list, but I expect it will land in the hundreds."

With Curriculet, teachers can add their own video commentary to books, add links and annotations relevant to the Common Core, pepper texts with quick quizzes to gauge comprehension, keep an eye on how students are making their way through assignments and so on. "It is dead simple for teachers to create a Curriculet and add questions and quizzes indexed to CCSS to any text they upload and teach on Curriculet," Singer says. "There are also over 200 Curriculet layers available on Curriculet covering novels, current events for every subject, ReadWorks passages, history curriculum and even a little bit of science with more to come."

Although Curriculet and its founder have their roots in the texts that students use for English class, Singer points out that Curriculet's technology enable teachers to add supplementary materials to any written text, not just novels.

Even so, having a deeper library of contemporary books could help more teenagers discover reading. Summit Public Schools was among the six schools that piloted Curriculet. Superintendent Diane Tavenner was smitten. “For the first time, Curriculet makes it affordable to put contemporary and engaging books in our students’ hands and makes it possible to measure their growth and engagement with every page they turn. This is revolutionary,” she said in a press release put out by Curriculet.

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