Super STEM, social studies resource with highly customizable content

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Based on 17 reviews

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Subjects & Skills

Critical Thinking, Math, Science

Price: Free
Platforms: Web

Pros: Well-organized design; outstanding wealth of content; compatible with all devices.

Cons: The interactives often lack rigor, and most primary students would find CK-12 too complicated to access on their own.

Bottom Line: Making content accessible to kids with different learning styles, CK-12 could be the key to mastery for some students.

The CK-12 site has a wealth of great content that teachers can use in the classroom. CK-12 is essentially a digital textbook. However, in addition to text, teachers and students will find multimedia such as videos and interactive simulations. You're likely to find material that directly corresponds to what you're teaching, and the diagrams and videos are very accessible. Teachers can assign content to students from the teacher dashboard, sent as a link, or through Google Classroom. As students dig into the material, teachers and students can monitor progress on quizzes and through the dashboard. Teachers can also assign adaptive practice activities, which increase in difficulty and complexity as students answer correctly. Teachers in the primary grades will probably find CK-12's resources better used in a group or whole-class format, as navigating and understanding many of the directions or problems would be very challenging for younger kids. And it's important to know that much of what CK-12 offers is reference material, and won't take the place of meaningful hands-on learning activities. 

The real power of CK-12 comes from the teacher's ability to customize content for individuals or small groups. Teachers can set up "classes" that are actually groups of students or individuals and assign content that's more tailored to specific learning profiles. For example, the teacher can edit the text in a Flexbook 2.0 chapter, removing everything except for the essential information (and even add or rephrase text). This rewriting process is not as time-consuming as it may sound, as each chapter has a summary of the main points that the teacher can use. Likewise, teachers can modify or create custom quizzes for the content they've created. Next, the teacher can assign videos and interactives to these students that drive those concepts home. If what teachers want isn't available within CK-12's resources, they are free to upload their own for students to access. Overall, CK-12 enables teachers to create a far more individualized experience than an ordinary textbook or website.

With CK-12, teachers can invite students by email with a code, add students without email, or upload a roster. It's also possible to import from Google Classroom. Teachers can then explore subject area content of interest in mathematics, science, and social studies. The breadth of subtopics available in each of these areas is what educators might expect to find in a typical set of K-12 textbooks. Topics like astronomy, technology, photography, and health are also available.

Within each subject, you can click on a circle, each of which contains several Concepts (short, chapter-like lessons). For example, if you click on Matter and Change, you will be given a list of topics that includes homogeneous mixtures, chemical symbols, and reactants and products. Within these topics, you can choose from a series of modalities: Read, Practice, Video, Real World, and more. Content is available in nearly 100 languages. The text on CK-12 should work with most screen-reading software and web extensions. As students read, they can highlight text and make notes. Some problems have a virtual scratchpad available for students to solve problems on.

Teachers have access to reports, including what practice items students answered incorrectly on the first and second try, as well as what they answered. Teachers can use this assessment information to target just-right instruction to the class, groups, or individuals. Additional content includes PLIX interactives, which allow students to view or manipulate models to answer challenge questions. The engaging physics simulations are recommended for middle and high school students. CK-12 also has dedicated iOS, Android, and Chrome apps for practice.

Students can learn a variety of STEM and social studies subjects through CK-12, as well as study skills and SAT prep. Some subjects, such as anatomy, require straightforward memorization, while others, like life science, will encourage students to reflect on the world and how its pieces fit together. Material on the site is well organized and very accessible. Without teacher modifications, CK-12 will likely appeal most to students who are already fairly studious; it doesn't oversimplify ideas. Thankfully, for many subjects and chapters, CK-12 provides "other ways to learn," which can point teachers and their students to content that may be more accessible for individuals. While it does cover simpler subjects such as arithmetic, its presentation might be too advanced for students of the appropriate age and level to understand on their own. 

CK-12 is committed to reaching students with all types of learning needs, and the inclusion of video, audio, quizzes, and other tools may open doors for those who are having trouble in the classroom. The site is essentially transforming a textbook into a multimedia experience. Information is broken down into very specific segments, with great attention to detail. For example, students can choose between lessons on jawless fish, cartilaginous fish, or bony fish; beneath each of these topics are at least four modalities. Some of the PLIX interactives, however, lack rigor and are best suited for practice once students have learned the concept. Because it covers so much ground and allows for lots of customization, it's a great resource for teachers and students alike.

Learning Rating

Overall Rating

The beautiful diagrams and a tidy interface make it easy to find the content you're looking for. Students will be engaged just browsing the topics that interest them. 


Teachers can customize content to meet the needs of different learning profiles, and breaking away from text-only books supports a variety of students.


The site's efforts to make its content accessible to all students is evident; content includes video and other multimedia. Help abounds in webinars, a FAQ list, and other guiding documents.

Common Sense reviewer
Shaun Langevin
Shaun Langevin Technology coordinator

Community Rating


The CK-12 platform offers a clean and intuitive user interface, making it easy to navigate and explore the vast amount of information provided. The platform can teach both introductory and advanced topics and can be picked up in less than 10 minutes. While the platform may have some limitations, such as clunky layout and cumbersome class setup, it can be a valuable tool for engaging students based on their interests. One teacher reported struggling to generate interest in science until they combined CK-12 with Newsella and NPR, which led to increased engagement and independent exploration by students. Despite some navigation challenges, the CK-12 platform can be an effective tool for promoting student engagement and interest in various subjects.

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