Thursday, June 16, 2016

Interesting OER Article in the Washington Post.

Interesting and heartening that the nation's community colleges are really taking OERs to heart.  Good article here:  College courses without textbooks? These schools are giving it a shot.  By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel

Thursday, June 2, 2016

University of North Carolina Press OER Initiative

The effort by the University of North Carolina Press to provide formal support throughout the UNC system for open educational resources (OER) development described in this Chronicle article is really promising.  It's wonderful to see institutional support for these kinds of efforts.

I followed up with John McLeod, Director of the Office of Scholarly Publishing Services at UNC Press about whether there were any math related efforts within the office right now.  While there aren't any current projects, they have applied for NSF funding to support OER development in service level mathematics classes within the UNC system.  They are also in conversation with the NC School of Science and Math, a high school that is part of the UNC system, about OER for mathematics at the secondary level.








Tuesday, April 26, 2016

AIM Open Textbooks in Mathbook XML Workshop (almost live updates)

David Farmer, Rob Beezer and others are developing an open markup language, Mathbook XML, to typeset mathematical texts in a way that facilitates publication in a variety of formats (e.g. html, pdf, e-book).  As part of that development, they seek authors willing to engage the new platform and provide feedback for development.

The American Institute of Mathematics is hosting a workshop with the developers and open texbook authors this week that is focused around open textbooks and Mathbook XML.  Rob Beezer and Tom Judson are both posting daily reports on the workshop at their blogs:
The posts so far have been pretty informative.  I wish I was there.

Lakeland and Lorain Community Colleges Support Open-Source Textbook

Jeff Zeager recently shared the following news:
Carl Stitz and I have been granted sabbaticals from our respective institutions for Fall 2016 to edit and enhance the Stitz-Zeager Precalculus book.  It is our intention to have the 4th edition ready by January 2017. 
The .pdf version of the book along with all of the LaTeX code will be posted on our website www.stitz-zeager.com when we're done with the revisions.
Of course, this is good news for their project, but it also shows that their respective institutions, Lorain County Community College and Lakeland Community College, are willing to commit resources to support and advance an open-source textbook.  Both institutions should be applauded for their support.  If you find yourself in a similar position--trying to justify a sabbatical to work on an open-source project--perhaps point at these two colleges as precedent.

We look forward to the next edition of the text.  

Monday, January 25, 2016

Elementary Abstract Algebra: Examples and Applications

Elementary Abstract Algebra: Examples and Applications is a new open-source abstract algebra text by a number of contributors: Justin Hill, Chris Thron (eds), Thomas Judson, Dave Witte Morris, Joy Morris, A. J. Hildebrand, Holly Webb, Johnny Watts and David Weathers. 

According to editor Chris Thron:
"The treatment is far more elementary than any other book on abstract algebra that we've seen. The text is designed for students who are planning to become secondary-school teachers. We particularly emphasize material that has relevance to high-school math, as well as practical applications."
The link above will lead to both on-line (html) and pdf versions of the text.  Print-on-demand copies are available through Lulu.  There is also a series of supporting YouTube videos.

If you have used the text in its current form, please consider writing a review for the MAA Reviews website.  The previous blog posting describes best practices for doing so.

As a follow up to this blog posting, I hope to get some insight into how this large number of collaborators managed to work together.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

MAA Reviews of Open Source Texts

The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) maintains a book review site called MAA Reviews where volunteers review math-related texts.  The site hosts reviews of traditionally published texts, but also accepts reviews of open-source texts.  For example, Vic Reiner and I wrote a review of Guichard's Calculus text a while back.

The editor of MAA Reviews, Fernando GouvĂȘa, is quite supportive of including reviews of open-source texts on the site.  Though he lightly lamented in an email exchange with me:
We are definitely willing and interested. The difficulty is that
usually the only reward I can offer my reviewers is a free copy of the
book they are to review; as a result, it is always harder to find
reviewers for open-source texts.
For a while, I went on a one-man mission to recruit reviews of open-source texts for the site.  My self-imposed best practice was that the reviewer not be an author of the text and had to have taught at least one class using the text.  Here's a list of some of the MAA Reviews I "recruited" during this period:
I had a process where I'd identify a candidate text, usually through word of mouth.  Then I'd reach out to the author(s) and see if they knew of someone using the text that I could solicit a review from.  Then I'd reach out to the recommended reviewer and solicit the review for MAA Reviews.

After a while, other things made claims on my time, leaving me less active in this pursuit.  However, this is a good way to get open-source texts some exposure.  Further, a favorable review in MAA Reviews might help the author(s) get some credit for their work at their home institutions.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

NSF research study proposal, open textbooks and mathematics software

From the hopefully better late than never file:  Rob Beezer asked me to post this a couple of weeks ago (sorry Rob).  The deadline for applications was Dec 24, 2015, but contact Rob if you have something that might work for his proposal.

The UTMOST Project investigates the affordances and challenges of integrating powerful open source software for advanced mathematics (i.e. Sage) with textbooks and course materials provided with open licenses and available in a variety of formats. The project seeks to understand the ways in which these tools change instruction of undergraduate mathematics courses and the opportunities to learn that are created with these tools.

We are proposing a research project to the National Science Foundation's Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program and are soliciting the participation of undergraduate mathematics faculty to be part of this research study.  Please see the more detailed proposal description (pdf), or follow this link to learn about the activities, stipends and application procedure.