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Academy FAQs

Heritage History Academy
Frequently Asked Questions

Heritage Academy Basics

Using the Heritage Academy

Ebooks and Copyright Status

Curriculum CDs vs. Academy Courses

Future Enhancements

Heritage Academy Basics

1. What do you mean by "Living Books?"

History textbooks tend to be dry and condense a great deal of information into a relatively small space. Most books selected by Heritage History are story-based; that is, they are narrative instead of analytical and present the most important stories from history rather than condensed facts. They include legends, biographies, folk tales, and adapted literature as well as comprehensive histories. By "living books", we mean books that were meant to be read for interest and pleasure, rather than analyzed and memorized. Learn more about the Heritage philosophy on our Living Books page.

2. Do the Heritage Academy Courses need to be studied in any particular order?

Each Course in the Heritage History Academy includes books for students of all ages so they can be studied at any time, and in any order. We do, however, believe that certain courses provide "Essential Foundations" for understanding Modern civilization. More information about our suggested course of study can be found on our Recommended Sequence page.

3. Do the Academy Courses go all the way through high school?

The books in the Heritage History library range from about fourth grade reading level to high school. The curriculum libraries were designed for life-long learning, so they have books in them of interest to all ages. Several of the courses we are planning for high school, however, are still under development. Learn more about our High School electives on our Recommended Sequence page.

4. Do I really need to buy an Academy Course? Why not just enroll in 'Independent Study'??

The Independent Study program is an excellent option for students who already have a good grounding in history and have a clear idea of what historical topics most interest them. The Heritage History library includes many books intended for advanced students who already know the basics of world history and the Independent Study program combined with a Library Pass is an excellent option for experienced, motivated, history lovers.

Students who are just getting introduced to world history, however, usually benefit from the recommendations and study aids provided by our civilization based Academy Courses. These in depth courses include guided reading lists, timelines, maps, and review questions that are intended to help students gain a thorough understanding of each historical period and lay a strong foundation for future learning.

5. Do Academy Courses ever expire?

Academy Courses do not expire, but Heritage History accounts that are determined to be "inactive" for a long period of time may be suspended. An account is determined to be inactive if there has been no activity for over one year and no purchase for over three years. Suspended accounts can be reactivated upon request and account status can be restored. Register users who have purchased an Academy course or library pass will be notified by email if their account is scheduled to be suspended, and active accounts will not be suspended unless the registered user violates the our Terms of Use agreement.

Using the Heritage Academy

1. What do you recommend for students younger than 4th grade?

All of our civilization based Academy courses were designed for students who are fluent readers and are able to remember important facts. For students who are not ready for comprehensive history we offer the Young Readers Classical Curriculum. It includes 85 easy-to-read history books that can be read in any order and introduce students to hundreds of important historical characters and incidents.

About a fourth of the books in the Young Readers collection cover American history, but they also include legends, folklore, Bible stories, short biographies, adapted classics and historical fiction. Most books are short enough to print if hard copies are needed, and there is enough material to keep students busy for several years. By the time students outgrow the Young Readers collection, they are ready for comprehensive history and already have an excellent foundation for future study.

2. How much time per week will an Academy Course require?

We recommend that students enrolled in an Academy course read history for about three hours per week. At this rate most students will be able to work through the recommended reading for each course in about six months, although a range of four to nine months is perfectly normal. Typically students read one or two "core" comprehensive histories and supplement with four to six additional biographies, episodic history, or adapted classics. More details advice and examples concerning reading schedules is available on our Scheduling and Review page.

3. Are the Curriculum CDs/Academy Courses intended for one year or just a semester?

The Academy Courses are intended to be flexible but most students take anywhere from four months to a year to complete one. In our experience, younger students, (5th to 7th grade) often take a year to complete a course, but avid readers and middle school students may very well complete one course per semester. The courses are structured so that they are easy to fit into a regular academic program, but some students continue to do history reading over summer and winter breaks. Example reading programs and advice for developing a regular weekly history schedule are available on our Scheduling and Review page.

4. There are dozens of books in each collection. How do I know which ones to read?

There are several common approaches to selecting books for your student, but if you are unsure where to get started, we have developed a default Core Reading assignment for all of our civilization based courses (Independent Study and Young Readers are special cases).

5. Can I use Heritage History books with Tapestry of Grace or Story of the World?

Books from the Heritage History library can be used to supplement many other traditional history curriculums, including Tapestry of Grace, Ambleside, and Story of the World. A general discussion of the possibilities for using Heritage resources with other curriculums is available here.

6. Can I use the Heritage Academy review questions with another another History curriculum?

The Heritage History Academy can be used by students who have studied other history programs. The Academy study questions were derived from core reading assignments and from the information links provided on the Study page. Many other traditional history programs cover similar information so it is likely that a student who has studied the period in question would be able to answer a high percentage of questions in the Level I database. It is less likely a student will be able to achieve high scores using the Advanced Level II question bank unless he or she commits to our specific reading program.

E-Books and Copyright Status

1. Will the books work on my Nook, Kindle, iPad?

The electronic-reader format in which the Heritage books are presented is compatible with all currently available electronic readers. The entire library can be downloaded to any e-Reader without having to make any additional purchases. Instructions for uploading Heritage libraries to various e-Readers is found in the Electronic Text User Guide.

2. My e-Reader reads PDF files. Why do I also need EPUB and MOBI versions?

It is true that most e-Readers can read the text of PDF files. Depending on the particular book however, the PDF conversion sometimes does a poor job with images, captions, verse, and other unusual formatting options. The EPUB and MOBI versions of the books, on the other hand, have been optimized to deal effectively with many formatting irregularities. Since a great many of the books in the Heritage library include interesting illustrations, tables, poems, quoted letters, itemized lists, and a variety of other features, we thought e-Reader users would prefer to use versions that preserved as much of the original formatting as possible.

Unfortunately, the e-Reader market has not yet converged on one, single e-Reader format. The MOBI and EPUB formats are very similar, but not identical. We want to provide users of any e-Reader with a compatible, ready-to-use format. At this time the easiest way to do this is to simply provide both e-Reader formats to all customers, even though most will likely use one or the other. On the other hand, by providing both e-Reader formats, Heritage customers can be assured that if they do switch e-Reader technology in the future, they will still have access to their entire Heritage library.

3. Why aren't the books in Academy Courses protected by copyright?

As laws currently stand, any book published in the United States before 1923 is considered to be in the "public domain" and can be reproduced without paying a royalty to the copyright holder. Until 1998, American copyright law provided that 75 years after a book was published its contents became the property of the "public domain". In 1998, however, all U.S. Copyrights were extended for another 20 years, meaning that no more books can enter the public domain until 2018. At the time the new law was passed, however, everything published before 1923 was already deemed to be public domain.

Books published after 1923 can also be public domain if the copyright holder failed to renew their copyright, or if the copyright holder explicitly renounced their copyright claim. Heritage History currently concerns itself only with pre-1923 texts. We have pre-1923 copies of each of the books in our collection physically in our possession to avert any potential conflict.

Curriculum CDs vs. Academy Courses

1. Do I need to buy a Curriculum CD to get ebooks if I enroll in an Academy Course?

All of the material on the Curriculum CDs is included in the corresponding Academy Course so it is not necessary to purchase both. Academy students can download PDFs, EPUBS or MOBI ebooks at any time, and also have access to study questions which are not included on the Curriculum CD.

In general, we believe that Academy courses are preferable for families who enjoy using the internet and are familiar with online classes. They may also be preferable for international customers who would like to avoid postal fees and delays. Curriculum CDs are a useful option for families who want to do most of their reading off-line, and would like to minimize internet usage.

2. I already bought an Ancient Rome CD, but now that an Academy Course is available I would like to enroll. Could I have a discount?

Contact Heritage History customer support at customerservice @ and let us know the name and email you used to make your purchase, and the approximate date of purchase. If we have records of your purchase we may be able to provide a coupon allowing free access.

3. Is the material in the Academy Courses identical to that of the curriculum CD?

The main difference between Academy Courses and Curriculum CDs, in terms of content, is that the Academy Courses include study questions. The Academy course also includes online tools to track reading progress and print status reports. In terms of books and study materials, the two are very similar. The Curriculum CDs were the "starting point" for developing the Academy Courses, so no information has been lost, but parts of it have been reorganized and updated for online access.

Future Enhancements

1. Is there any way to add some of my own books to my student's reading list?

We understand that it would be useful for students to be able to include books that they have read, that are not in the Heritage library, to their reading list. We do not support this ability at this time, but we are considering it as a future enhancement, possibly by fall 2015.

2. When will all ten Academy Courses be available?

As of September, 2014 we have released seven Academy courses. Five of these are civilization based courses: Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, British Middle Ages, Early America, and Modern Europe. The other two, Young Readers and Independent Study, are general survey courses.

There are five additional courses under development. British Empire and Spanish Empire are well under way and should be released by Summer 2015. Biblical Kingdoms, Eastern Empires, and Christian Europe will be available by 2016.

3. What other new projects is Heritage History working on?

We would love to be able to talk about some of the long term projects we are working on, but right now getting Heritage History Academy to the point where is a well documented, stable, and easy-to-use resource for all homeschoolers and history lovers is our top priority. We expect development on the Academy to continue for about two more years. Eventually we would like to provide Academy courses as "applications" for tablets, smart phones, and other portable electronic devices, but we are not focusing on those efforts until our internet-based application is fully developed.

We also have a back log of dozens of "new" historical classics that we would like to release, but we will probably be focusing our efforts on pending Academy courses (British Empire, Spanish Empire, Biblical Kingdoms, etc. ) for the time being. The Mission of Heritage History has always been to make traditional history books, written for the enjoyment of young people, easily available. This is still our objective, and every project we undertake is intended to further this purpose.