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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 there wasn’t an activity-driven text available; I also don’t think anyone should make millions by writing a calculus text.  Three years later (in 2015), in collaboration with my GVSU colleagues David Austin and Steve Schlicker, we released a third semester of content with the multivariable edition.

The single variable text (now in its 2016 edition), Active Calculus, is being used by a growing number of faculty, and has been formally adopted at Carroll College, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Nevada State College, Scottsdale Community College, and Green Mountain College, among others.  The good folks at Carroll have made some nice additions to the text and have some ancillaries to offer, including a Chapter 0 precalculus review, and clicker questions for the entire text, plus a couple of additional sections on modeling with difference equations.

The full text for single-variable calculus is not only available as a free .pdf, but also (from the same URL) can be obtained in bound version via print-on-demand service from Amazon (click the “Buy this Book” button from the download link).  A printed softcover version of the text costs about $20. 

The text for multivariable calculus was released in late July 2015 for a year of beta-testing.  You can download it as a free .pdf.

Some other important notes ...

Active Calculus is different from most existing texts in at least the following ways

  1. the text is free for download by students and instructors in .pdf format;

  2. due to the electronic format, graphics are in full color and there are live html links to java applets;

  3. the text is open source — interested instructors can gain access to the original source files upon request;

  4. 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;

  5. 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;

  6. the exercises are few in number and challenging in nature.

The interested user should know at least the following things before adopting the text for work with students:

  1. at this time, we have limited access to solutions to activities and exercises.  This continues to be a work in progress.  For now, formal typeset solutions are limited to the activities in chapters 1-4, with additional solutions to most remaining activities and many of hte exercises. Please inquire via email for more information.  The multivariable edition does not yet have full solutions available.

  2. we have an “activities workbook” that consists only of the text’s activities, with some space for students to work.  See these links:  chapters 1-4, chapters 5-8, multivariable.

  3. we have set up errata pages for each text:  single variable, multivariable.

  4. there is not (yet) a traditional set of exercises in the text (there are 3-4 exercises in each section that are intended to be challenging and not routine); it is essential to have access to WeBWorK or some other source of more routine problems.  We are hopeful that by summer 2016 there will be an appendix of routine exercises for the single-variable version.

  5. Active Calculus can be used as a supplemental text for students or can be used just for 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.

To learn more about this project, please visit my blog at http://opencalculus.wordpress.com or contact me directly at boelkinm at gvsu dot edu. 

Active Calculus - single variable

endorsed by the American Institute of Mathematics

ISBN 978-0-9898975-3-2; download at http://gvsu.edu/s/xr


(new) Active Calculus - multivariable

download from http://gvsu.edu/s/Wb