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Safari for Schools: Free O’Reilly material for K-12

Safari is offering O’Reilly books and videos for free to every K-12 student and teacher in the U.S.

This past February, Tim O’Reilly brought me into an email thread with the White House with a straightforward but urgent request — could Safari provide the delivery mechanism to make all of O’Reilly Media’s titles available to every K–12 student in America? Commitments to the President’s “ConnectED” program were lined up from a number of software, hardware, and networking companies, but connected devices would be much more useful with content included. We’re proud that we were able to say yes to something so important — and on such short notice.

It made sense for Safari to deliver on O’Reilly’s commitment, as our business is providing online access to thousands of the best books and training courses to companies and organizations of all sizes. But as we started unpacking the particulars, we uncovered more complexity than we expected. For example, there are tens of thousands of school districts across the country, each with their own IT infrastructure. It simply wouldn’t scale if providing access to every student also meant working directly with every school or district. Compliance with a set of regulations designed to protect children’s privacy (known as COPPA) meant that we couldn’t simply open up our standard platform to students.

Constraints can be wonderful in focusing attention, and fortunately the outstanding team at Safari was up for the challenge. By September 1, we had quietly opened up a beta site where any high school student could apply for access to the full collection of O’Reilly books and videos.

In conjunction with today’s White House event promoting “Future Ready Schools,” I’m thrilled to say that we have delivered on the pledge to make the full catalog of O’Reilly books and videos available for free to any K–12 student in America, more than a month ahead of our original January 2015 promise.

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