While on sabbatical during the winter semester of 2012, I began drafting a free, open-source calculus text. I undertook the project in part because I felt like there wasn’t an activity-driven text available, as well as because I don’t think anyone should make millions by selling a calculus text.
The book that is underway is different from most existing texts in at least the following ways:
– the text will be free for download by students and instructors in .pdf format;
– due to the electronic format, graphics are in full color and there are live html links to java applets;
– the text will (eventually) be open source — interested instructors can gain access to the original source files upon request;
– the style of the text requires students to be active learners … there are very few worked examples in the text, with there instead being 3-4 activities per section that engage students in connecting ideas, solving problems, and developing understanding of key calculus ideas;
– each section begins with motivating questions, a brief introduction, and a preview activity, all of which are designed to be read and completed prior to class;
– the exercises are few in number and challenging in nature.
The interested user should know at least the following things before adopting the text:
– this is very much a work in progress; the materials have not yet been piloted or reviewed. I began the project essentially in January 2012. I am learning about a variety of key issues as the work progresses.
– there is not a traditional set of exercises included; for now, it is essential to have access to WeBWorK or some other source of routine problems.
– I have not yet completed materials for integral calculus; these are currently in progress (in collaboration with two of my colleagues), with the goal of having a usable draft of the material for integral calculus in time for Winter 2012.
While I think the text could be used in place of a traditional differential calculus text for the coming semester, a more realistic alternative might be to use it as a supplemental text for students, or to just use the activities workbook: the text is arranged so that all of the activities are embedded in the text, but can also be compiled in a separate document that provides students room to work. An instructor could use as many or few of the activities as she found useful.
I will be using the blog as a place to post user feedback and gain further ideas/suggestions/edits through the comments that readers and users of the text provide, and hopefully this site will become home for a community of users who decide to use the text in some way. I’ll also, of course, post updates regarding how the project is progressing.