Monday, October 24, 2016

Open Source Differential Equations and Calculus Textbooks

Here's a note from Charles Bergeron, a co-author of the open source text "Differential Equations" with Jiri Lebl:

After my first offering of Differential Equations using my book, there were of course plenty of corrections and additions I wanted to make. I thought I'd draw your attention to it.

. . . The biggest change is that the book integrates both Maxima and SageMath, and the reader can use either one.

In other news, Bergeron notes:

I've also created a Calc II book that is a mash of Guichard and Mooculus. . . . I'm just about ready to go public with it. By the time I teach Calc II next Spring, I'm hoping to augment this book to provide Maxima and SageMath integration in a manner similar to the DiffEq book.

According to Bergeron, of particular interest to potential adopters is the fact that "there is a tiny bit of Linear Algebra in my Calculus II course, because my college doesn't have a Linear Algebra course and I'm trying to make my Differential Equations course a little more interesting by splitting the prerequisite LinAlg content between Calc II and DiffEq."  That's certainly a departure from traditional second term calculus content.  I'd be interested in hearing from folks that have tried that.

Many of us are considering adoptions for spring classes right now.  Take a look at these.  I'm definitely going to take a close look at the differential equations text the next time I teach that class.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Lawsuit against FedEx, Fascinating Challenge to CC-NC clause.

According to an article at edweek, "Fedex Targeted in Open Educational Resources Lawsuit" by Sean Cavanagh, a lawsuit brought against FedEx photocopying service by OER creator Great Minds raises some interesting challenges to the "print on demand" model so often employed by many of us here.  Great Minds produces OER under a Creative Commons license with a non-commercial clause (CC-NC).  While it is perfectly legal for educators to download and reproduce the materials for their students on their own, Great Minds asserts that downloading OERs and taking them to FedEx (a for-profit commercial enterprise) for printing is prohibited by the CC-NC clause.

A few wrinkles to consider, also from the article: 
  • Great Minds offers print on demand services for their materials, but, presumably because they are a non-profit corporation, they may do so at slightly above cost and keep the revenue to support their own operations.
  • Officials at Creative Commons have taken FedEx's position and, according to this blog, are against the lawsuit.
As I mentioned earlier, many of the authors here offer their texts at print on demand sites like Lulu or Amazon.  These sites are also for-profit.  A win for Great Minds would force some alterations in the use of these services.  Does this lawsuit require a re-write of the NC clause?  Should we just not use the NC clause?