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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. 

The text, Active Calculus, is now 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.  The good folks at Carroll have made some nice additions to the text and have some ancillaries to offer.

The full text for the first two semesters is available as a free .pdf; from the same site there is a link to print-on-demand service via Lightning Source.  A printed softcover version of the text may be purchased for about $20.  A slightly updated version of the text (mainly with some typos being corrected) is expected to be available by the end of July 2015.

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.  Several different people are working on this, and by December 2015 I expect that we’ll have solutions available for all of them.  For now, formal typeset solutions are limited to the activities in chapters 1-4.

  2. 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.  I am hopeful that by summer 2016 there will be an appendix of routine exercises.

  3. the book 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.

Steve Schlicker, David Austin, and I are also working on a multivariable addition to the text.  We expect a public version to be available in early August 2015.

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.  Again, you can find links to various .pdf files at the download page.



Active Calculus

endorsed by the American Institute of Mathematics

ISBN 978-0-9898975-3-2