Electronic textbook projects

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The OLPC is an education project, not a laptop project.

Designing and building an innovative piece of open hard- and software like the OLPC and embedding it in an "OLPC-community" so the software and hardware continue to improve is achieved. Of course an innovative laptop needs a community collaborating together in making the best content, producing innovative educational content to be used with it. The objective is of course more than a scanned schoolbook. We want to see interactive books. All educators in a country on a specific topic to collaborate to make THE best book for their discipline instead of all making "something" in their little corner. Bring it in front of you Ministry of Education, we're sure you'll be able to unlock funds for such efforts as they are great money savers for the Ministry of Education's budget. Great projects are under development for many years, so we hope you join one or set one up for your region/country.

In order for the OLPC to succeed as an innovative educational tool we need the collective support of thousands of people working on many different electronic textbook projects. This page is intended to be a gateway to such projects.

Project Lists

Because there are different approaches that can be taken in order to create digital textbooks, we are breaking this listing into several categories.

These projects are primarily concerned with creating books that children will read in order to learn. It does not include educational applications or multimedia authored content like Hypercard.

Repurposing Paper Books

These are projects whose aim is to scan existing paper books into DJVU compressed format as supported by the Evince ebook reader. Because these projects are scanning books, they do not need any special font format. Some of the OLPC target regions use writing systems that have not yet been implemented for use on computers. By repurposing paper books, these regions do not have to wait until the font work is completed and therefore get content in children's hands sooner.

In addition, these projects can scan handwritten materials, whether ancient documents, or simply existing handwritten educational materials.

  • The International Children's Digital Library: a library that provides free access to children's books from around the world. By ensuring access to books from many cultures and in diverse languages, we foster a love of reading, a readiness to learn, and a response to the challenges of world illiteracy.
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Repurposing Digital Content

In some target languages there is already a large amount of digital content. However, it is not in a coherent form that is ready to use for elementary education. To some extent, this may be a simple format problem such as material in Postscript files that could be converted to PDF (supported by Evince) or HTML. In other cases, it is an editing problem such as how to create a subset of Wikipedia that is useful to elementary children. And in other cases it is a collection problem because the material is not currently freely available on the Internet or there are licensing issues to sort out.

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Free Digital Content

There are a number of textbooks available on the Internet in PDF format, and several projects aiming at producing more.

  • Librarian Chick catalog of free electronic textbooks.
  • Wikibooks free library of educational textbooks that anyone can edit.

Essentially all of the content of the Internet is useful for teaching languages. There are a number of Web sites that provide more specific help:

  • Collections of documents in a particular language, with dictionaries and other linguistic apparatus.
  • Dictionary sites
  • Translation sites
  • Transliteration sites for languages written in more than one writing system
  • Teaching and reference grammars
  • Typing tutors for various writing systems, notably Chinese
  • Children's literature 1 Wikipedia:List of digital library projects - visit online library links and look for a children's section.
  • Children's literature 2 Wikipedia:List of digital library projects - Children's Literature - Online library projects specifically for children.

Writing New Textbooks for the OLPC

Here is where people are writing textbooks that are intended primarily for use with the OLPC. In some cases, such as languages which don't have a lot of Wikipedia content, this could be coupled with other Internet ebook projects. In other cases, this will be local groups working as part of a country initiative.

  • http://wolnepodreczniki.pl/ (polish) (not open for general public yet)
  • Algebra 1 in Simple English is being worked on in two parts
  • Let's Learn Logo
    • I am working on a (possibly enhanced) ebook about programming and math using Logo, tentatively named "Let's Learn Logo". It is not being written in a wiki way, but OLPC participants and the public are encouraged to offer feedback and suggestions during the writing process. The first beta version is now online. I am grateful for all and any feedback you might have. Lethe

Enhanced/fast learning

  1. http://mnemosyne-proj.org/

The Mnemosyne Project has two aspects:

It's a free flash-card tool which optimizes your learning process. It's a research project into the nature of long-term memory. We strive to provide a clear, uncluttered piece of software, easy to use and to understand for newbies, but still infinitely customisable through plugins and scripts for power users.

See Mnemosyne for how to install on OLPC OS.

Efficient learning

Mnemosyne uses a sophisticated algorithm to schedule the best time for a card to come up for review. Difficult cards that you tend to forget quickly will be scheduled more often, while Mnemosyne won't waste your time on things you remember well.

See also OLPC Publications.