More from AIM: developments in free & open math texts

So much to share, so just going to go with a bulleted list for now.  Hope to flesh out more over the coming months.

  • The American Institute of Mathematics is a cool place and they have an excellent organizational scheme.  About 30 of us with shared interests are fully funded to be here for the week.  Official day starts at 9 am and ends at 4:30.  A nice mix of presentations and small group work (the latter of our own choosing) and time to collaborate and think.  Every day I have learned a lot and made new friends and professional connections.
  • The technological advances that have been made by a small number of people in a few short years are utterly amazing.  As Rob noted on his blog, yesterday “there were several impromptu rounds of applause for some of the technical achievements.”  Following are a few of those achievements.
  • Alex Jordan – in concert with Rob – has figured out how to make live WeBWorK exercises in an HTML version of a text. (!!!)
  • Alex has also managed to embed live Geogebra “applets” in the HTML text.  (There are some oddities here with Java and HTML 5 that I don’t fully understand, but that Alex does.  If the GGB doesn’t render in your browser, it may be that you have to adjust your Java preferences or that I’ve not pointed you to the right version that is running HTML 5.)
  • David Farmer has developed a script that will take an existing LaTeX book, convert (most of) it to Rob’s new publishing language (Mathbook XML), and thus within a very short time frame a person can go from having just PDF output to having a book also in HTML (that will need some editing, but the heavy lifting has been done).  Just while we’ve been here this week, David has done this for a half-dozen people.  You send him your files, he works for an hour or so, then sends them back, and bingo!  You have a rough HTML version of your work that looks a lot like the professional examples below.  As an aside, David also has converted some 12,000 (that is not a typo) mathematics research articles from LaTeX to HTML.
  • And, of course, there’s Rob Beezer’s utterly amazing Mathbook XML.  It is not hard to learn to use, and the output is game-changing.  On Monday, I  wrote one of my GVSU colleagues with the subject line “I have seen the future of e-textbooks.”  Check out Rob’s sample article that demonstrates multiple features and the overall interface, or the sample book, which is based on Tom Judson’s actual book.  Rob has a great gallery of the books that are already being produced in XML at the main mathbook site: http://mathbook.pugetsound.edu/index.html.
  • Rob has many other great resources, including his “Book on Mathbook,” and his very helpful just-created “Git for Authors,” which I am starting to work hard to make sense of.  Both of these books are gifts to the rest of us and will let many more people use these fantastic tools.  Yesterday afternoon we had a great 90-minute small group session that Rob led which walked 7 of us through some key stuff with Git and building a collaborative text.  He describes the details more fully over on his blog.

Overall, I’m learning in a week what it would take me months to accomplish on my own.  Very grateful to AIM, Rob, David, Kent, Tom, and Alex for making this possible.  So excited for the work that’s going to follow this and all the ways that Active Calculus will get better.

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One comment

  1. […] is a WeBWorK developer and, as mentioned in my previous post, is the primary person who’s figured out how to put live WeBWorK exercise in HTML via MBX. […]

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