Saturday, February 18, 2017

Use a Google form to encourage reading before class.

It's not exactly about open source texts, but yesterday I did an on-campus talk at our center for teaching and learning on the subject of "Getting Students to Do the Reading." I shared my solution that involves a relatively simple use of Google forms to get students to read and respond before coming to class. I think it's slightly relevant here because it's free, and the form I use can certainly be modified and redistributed.

If you're interested, I put together a brief video showing how to use a Google form for this purpose:

If any of you have any useful supplementary, open source techniques that you use in your classrooms and would like to share them here, please let me know and I'll post them here.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

DMCA Takedown Request of Open Source Calculus Book, ha!

Many of you may know that I work at Whitman College and David Guichard, author of the widely used open-source calculus textbook aptly named "Single Variable Calculus", is in my department (in the office right next door).

Not surprisingly, many of us in the dept here use this textbook. Hence, a pdf copy of the textbook sits on one of our dept webservers ( 

A couple of days ago Whitman's tech support folks received a DMCA takedown request from Cengage (a commercial textbook operation) for this pdf file. Lest there be any doubt, Cengage does not own the rights to this text. Indeed, on page 2 of the pdf one can view clearly the creative commons license governing the use of this text. Fortunately, our tech services folks have a good sense of humor and told Cengage to "eff off!"

I'd love to post the actual takedown notice, but (surprise!) the fine print at the bottom of the notice prohibits that. It's too bad that these copyright trolling outfits aren't liable for the time and energy consumed by false claims of infringement.

I'd be interested in knowing if other authors of open-source texts have run into this issue.