CK-12 Foundation

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CK12 Foundation
FoundersNeeru Khosla and Murugan Pal
Area served
MethodDonations and Grants
Key people
Neeru Khosla, Executive Director
Murugan Pal, President
Miral Shah, CTO
Headquarters location[1]

The CK-12 Foundation is a California-based non-profit organization whose stated mission is to reduce the cost of, and increase access to, K-12 education in the United States and abroad.[2] CK-12 provides free and customizable K-12 open educational resources aligned to state curriculum standards. The foundation's tools are used by 38,000 schools in the US, and additional international schools.[2]

CK-12 was established in 2007 by Neeru Khosla and Murugan Pal to support K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. The organization first generated and distributed educational content via a web-based platform called the "FlexBook."[3] CK-12 has updated its FlexBook platform and has begun to focus on concept-based, multi-modality learning. CK-12 is being funded by the Amar Foundation and by Vinod and Neeru Khosla.[4]


Neeru Khosla teamed with her husband, Vinod Khosla, to think about how to make a positive impact in the educational sphere. Neeru chose to focus in particular on high school and middle school students and teachers, most notably in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Neeru found an enabling partner in Murugan Pal, whose strong technical and entrepreneurial skills helped the CK-12 idea manifest into a not-for-profit educational organization.[5] She then recruited teachers from all across America to author CK-12 textbooks, to be published under Creative Commons licenses.[6] Explaining why she chose to provide open-source and collaborative content, Neeru says, “We can’t make all kids get an education, but we can make it simpler, easier, and more affordable. That’s the philosophy behind the openness as far as I’m concerned."[7]

The "C" in CK-12 originally stood for "connect", indicating that the material was the missing connection in K-12 education. The company's website now states that the C has an open meaning, and can stand for "content, classroom, customizable, connections, collaboration—the idea is that our content can be used by anyone, anywhere for free."[8]

In March 2013, Microsoft announced a partnership with CK-12 to provide content to Microsoft's Windows 8 customers.[9]

FlexBook System[edit]

The FlexBook System is an online platform for assembling, authoring, and distributing interactive, multi-modal educational content. Content is searchable by subject, grade-level, and state and national education standards. FlexBooks can be downloaded and used as-is, or can be customized by teachers to match their students’ learning styles and their schools’ curricula. Inside each book, entire chapters or bite-sized concepts can be rearranged, added, removed, and edited. Any user can input text, photos, videos, exercises, study guides, assessments, notes, or highlights to their FlexBook. FlexBooks can be shared, for free, with user-created groups in print, online, by email, or on social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter. Some Flexbooks are even available in Spanish and Hindi.

All FlexBooks conform to national and state curriculum guidelines, Common Core Standards, and can be re-aligned to International standards. Flexbooks are offered under the Creative Commons by Attribution, Share-alike, and Non-commercial license, removing many of the restrictions that limit distribution of traditional textbooks.[10] Most CK-12 FlexBooks are created internally by authors with teaching and domain expertise. Additional FlexBooks are acquired through university donations and licensing partnerships. CK-12’s current[when?] library of 88 downloadable Flexbooks can be accessed in PDF, ePub, and Amazon Kindle optimized format.[11]

The technologies used in creation of CK-12 FlexBooks are:[12]

  • Django- Django is a web framework designed to simplify the creation and coding of complex, data-driven websites.
  • MySQL- MySQL database is the world's most popular open source database.[citation needed] MySQL offers a wide range of database tools, training, support, and consulting services.
  • Google Web Toolkit (GWT) - Used by many Google products, including Google AdWords and Orkut, GWT is a development toolkit used for building and optimizing complex browser-based applications. GWT is completely free, open source, and is used by thousands of developers around the world.
  • Apache - Apache provides support for the open-source software projects.

Concept-based and multi-modal learning[edit]

CK-12 organizes its educational content into roughly 5000 concepts (e.g., "Two digit multiplication" or "Photosynthesis" or "Newton’s law"). CK-12 believes that these “Byte-Sized” units of content and modalities of learning (as well as varied styles of learning) are more important tools for facilitating learning than traditional educational materials like textbooks. These concepts are further organized into "Learning Paths."[13]

Ck-12 content is available in a number of formats, which the organization describes as multiple “modalities of the concept.” Each modality is defined as “a different way to learn or explore” a specific concept and its relationship to other concepts. Examples include, but are not limited to:[13]

  1. Textual descriptions
  2. Video lectures
  3. Supplementary videos
  4. Multimedia simulations
  5. Interactive exploration models
  6. Quizzes/exams and question banks
  7. Examples of the concept in real-life use
  8. Maps of related concepts
  9. Web resources related to the concept
  10. Galleries of photographs
  11. Peer learning
  12. Labs or other experiments
  13. Flash cards
  14. Lesson plans

Other products[edit]

In addition to its 88 FlexBooks, the CK-12 Foundation also offers the following resources to K-12 students:

  • CK-12 Braingenie.[14] Braingenie is the Web's largest[citation needed] and most comprehensive[citation needed] repository of math and science practice materials. Braingenie provides practice problems and video lessons relating to more than 4,000 skills. The system's adaptive learning system, which features games and awards, is intended to inspire students to achieve.
  • CK-12 FlexMath[15] - The FlexMath system provides an online, interactive, year-long Algebra 1 curriculum. In addition to its daily lessons, FlexMath offers a gamified system designed to help students practice core math skills at their own pace.
  • CK-12 I Need a Pencil[16] - is a free, online SAT preparation website. The site features over 800 practice questions and lessons in math, reading, and writing. was founded in 2007 by then high school student Jason Shah.[17] He wanted to provide access to SAT prep to thousands of low-income students who cannot afford traditional test preparation.

In the future, CK-12 intends to expand its offerings by continuing to produce its own content, but also by asking for contributions from its active, engaged community. CK-12 will continue to match its content to an expanding base of learning standards like McREL Compendium.[18]


  • CK-12 has been listed in the Top 25 Websites for Teaching by American Association of School Librarians[19]
  • The National Tech Plan - The Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education – has mentioned the CK-12 model as “Transforming American Education – Learning Powered by Technology”[20]
  • NASA has teamed up with CK-12 on the Physics FlexBook[21]
  • Tech Awards-2010 listed CK-12 in “15 innovations that could save the world”[22]
  • In introducing Washington state bill, HB 2337: “Regarding open educational resources in K-12 education,” Representative Reuven Carlyle testifies to the benefit CK-12 materials can have for school districts around the country.[23]
  • Fortune Magazine described CK-12 as a threat to the traditional textbook industry, and wrote about CK-12's push towards concept-based learning.[24]
  • National Public Radio writes about CK-12, including its use of "Real World Applications" as teaching devices.[25]
  • Neeru and CK-12 have been featured in the New York Times,[26] the Gates Notes,[27] Mercury News,[28] TechCrunch,[29] Education Week,[30] EduKindle,[31] The Patriot News,[32] Getting Smart,[33] and[34]


  1. ^ Headquarters address from organization website Archived 2009-02-28 at the Wayback Machine.; 3430 W. Bayshore Rd, Suite 101, Palo Alto, CA 94303, USA. 37°26′6.11″N 122°6′34.59″W / 37.4350306°N 122.1096083°W / 37.4350306; -122.1096083Coordinates: 37°26′6.11″N 122°6′34.59″W / 37.4350306°N 122.1096083°W / 37.4350306; -122.1096083
  2. ^ a b "The reinvention of Neeru Khosla". Silicon Valley Business Journal. 2014-03-28. Retrieved 2014-04-22.
  3. ^ Park, Jane (28 April 2009). "CK-12 Foundation's Neeru Khosla on Open Textbooks". Creative Commons. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
  4. ^ "All about FlexBooks". Archived from the original on 2012-06-09. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
  5. ^ "Murgan Pal- Kamla Bhatt show". Archived from the original on 2011-12-21. Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  6. ^ "About The Licenses".
  7. ^ "The "Living Book" Movement: Free Education For All". MindShift.
  8. ^ "What Does The "C" in CK-12 Stand For?". Help Center.
  9. ^ "Microsoft emphasizes Student Privacy, partners with Knewton, Pearson". EDUKWEST.
  10. ^ "FlexBooks challenge textbooks".
  11. ^ Electronic books[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Technology".
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^ "Braingenie".
  15. ^ Flexmath
  16. ^ I Need A Pencil
  17. ^ "America's Coolest College Start-ups 2010: Jason Shah - Harvard University -".
  18. ^ "McREL: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning, Content Knowledge Standards and Benchmark Database". Archived from the original on 2012-01-04. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
  19. ^ "Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2013". Archived from the original on 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2012-01-09.
  20. ^ "Search Results -".
  21. ^ NASA (21 September 2010). "NASA Teams With 'CK-12' Foundation on Physics FlexBook".
  22. ^ "Tech Awards 2010: 15 Innovations That Could Save The World (PHOTOS)". The Huffington Post.
  23. ^ "cable green".
  24. ^ "Startups are about to blow up the textbook". Fortune.
  25. ^ "Temple Run Meets Algebra: CK12's New Approach". MindShift.
  26. ^
  27. ^ Bill Gates. "Technology's Promise to Education: Reimagining Textbooks".
  28. ^ "Cassidy: Don't bet against Neeru Khosla's idea to save our schools".
  29. ^ "Will We Need Teachers Or Algorithms?". TechCrunch. AOL.
  30. ^ "Education Week: Common Core Drives Interest in Open Education Resources". Education Week Digital Directions.
  31. ^ "6 Reasons to Love the Textbooks from CK12". EduKindle.
  32. ^ "Capital Area Intermediate Unit wants to test digital textbooks in midstate schools".
  33. ^ "Q&A: CK-12 Says OER & Tech Can Unlock Cheaper, Better Learning". Getting Smart.
  34. ^ "Digital Textbooks: Has Their Time Come?".