Active Calculus
endorsed by the American Institute of Mathematics

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.  A full text for the first two semesters is now available and being beta tested.  You can find links to various .pdf files at the download page.  Some other important notes ...

The book that has resulted, “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. this project is still in beta; the first four chapters (differential calculus through the First FTC) were piloted by a small number of instructors in Fall 2012, Winter 2013, and Spring 2013, and the next four chapters (integral calculus, including chapters on differential equations and infinite series) were used by a very small number of people in Winter 2013.  In Fall 2013 usage grew, with at least 12 different sections of calculus I & II at GVSU being taught from the materials, with users at approximately another 10 schools.  As more and more people use the text, we expect its quality to improve further.

  2. there is not a traditional set of exercises included; it is essential to have access to WeBWorK or some other source of routine problems.

  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.

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.  You can find links to various .pdf files at the download page.