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Open Source Textbooks For California

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the byzantine-doesn't-begin-to-describe dept.

Education 201

T-1000, appropriately enough, lets us know about a California initiative to compile open source science and math textbooks for the state, in the hopes of saving money. The effort is spearheaded by Gov. Schwarzenegger. "The effort seems very promising, but the state's complex standards and arduous textbook evaluation process will pose major challenges. ... The governator will surely be able to stop the digital textbooks from gaining sentience and subjugating humanity, but there are trickier challenges that will be even tougher to defeat than the impending Skynet apocalypse. Textbooks are a surprisingly controversial issue in California and there is a lot of political baggage and bureaucratic red tape that will make an open source textbook plan especially troublesome. ... [T]he traditional wiki approach is untenable for California teaching material. Individual changes to textbooks can become a source of fierce debate and there are a multitude of special interest groups battling over what the textbooks should say and how they should say it. It would take the concept of Wikipedia edit wars to a whole new level."

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I never knew... (3, Insightful)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 5 years ago | (#27898953)

I'm surprised that introductory algebra is such a politically polarized topic...
I can only imagine the debates in calculus, what with the ongoing Newton/Leibniz war..

Re:I never knew... (2, Funny)

skine (1524819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899063)

They can present anything they want as long as they teach the controversy.

Because mathematics runs on proof, not faith. (5, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899133)

Proof-based mathematics vs. faith-based mathematics gets ugly, real fast.

I guess that goes for any proof-based science vs. faith-based science. And their appropriate school books.

Although, I must admit, during my differential equations final exam, I think that some of my answers were definitely faith-based.

Good riddance to differential equations! Not that I want to ruffle any feathers, but I wouldn't recognize the "Differential Equation Rapture," if it popped up and slapped me in the face.

Let alone, being able to classify and solve it.

Re:Because mathematics runs on proof, not faith. (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899171)

Proof-based mathematics vs. faith-based mathematics gets ugly, real fast

Pi = 3 you insensitive clod!

Re:Because mathematics runs on proof, not faith. (2, Funny)

the_rtb (1157609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899419)

Ah yes, the pi rounding thing. An ongoing joke here is that biologists use pi = 3 and pi^2 = 10. I've been meaning to ask them, what is pi^3 then?

Re:Because mathematics runs on proof, not faith. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899491)

what is pi^3 then?

Delicious.

Re:Because mathematics runs on proof, not faith. (2, Funny)

captnbmoore (911895) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900357)

As all mathematical equations go it's 42

Re:Because mathematics runs on proof, not faith. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899945)

proof-based science vs. faith-based malarky

FTFY

--

There is no such thing as faith-based science

Please make shorter textbooks (4, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899485)

While I took a japanese course one semester, my teacher decided to forgo the required text, a classic 300 page textbook for the course, and gave us this short booklet - probably about 50-75 pages long (I forget). Being Japanese herself, she said that it was the atypical school book in Japan, being good for 6 weeks of study. We got a second one half-way through.

I really liked having a short workbook. It was disposable (paper covers) and much like the Schaum's outlines here (a bit shorter, those outlines cost about less than $15 a subject, don't see why textbooks cost like 8x that and up). It also helped studying because everything in the booklet was relevant to the course and you could keep up with ease.

Math books especially have that problem of being mini-tomes of info. My calculus book in highschool could also cover Calc II and Calc III courses. I don't see why I have to lug all that around at once.

Hopefully this initiative and wikibooks work together:
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Main_Page [wikibooks.org]

Shorter textbooks are bettre textbooks (2, Insightful)

golodh (893453) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900013)

I totally agree. Most "textbooks" on "Calculus" I've seen in the US seem to have been produced by people who are paid by the book's weight. They are full of are useless drivel that doesn't concern the actual mathematics, poor stabs at tutorial, and an extravagantly wasteful layout.

A book based on the "lecture notes" principle which also tries to use the available space can typically cover the same subject matter in a clear and concise manner in a quarter of the size and weight.

That would be something Open Source textbooks can address.

I have only one plea: don't make e-books. E-books on laptops aren't as easy on the eyes as even poorly typeset hardcopies.

Re:Shorter textbooks are bettre textbooks (2, Insightful)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900393)

I think the idea with open textbooks is that you can use it in whatever format you like.

For instance, while I definitely prefer a real copy for a textbook, having a digital version to keep on the computer or on my kindle would be really handy for traveling. I don't know how many times I've been somewhere and realized I really needed a book; being in grad school I'm running into topics which aren't covered well or at all online.

Thus, a good bet would be to make the digital copy available, in a reflowable format, as well as at set sizes (Letter/A4) with PDFs. For K-12, presumably the school district would be able to place an order for how many they need, simply at the cost of printing them. College distribution is less obvious, although I have a had a few professors who make a set of class notes available in an inexpensive bound format at different copy shops around town.

Re:I never knew... (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899497)

There are huge conflicts in pedagogy and topics. Do we introduce topics on the board or with a hands on activity. Do we develop a topic following a precise sequence that builds process, or examples that help the student build his or her own process, or activities that convey the general idea of problem solving. Do we assess using multiple guess choices to known problems, the solution to an adapted real world problem, or with the ability to create a defensible solution to previously unseen problems. Some teachers are fundamentally opposed to all but one of these options. The problem with most textbooks and most district and state curriculum is that they tend to impose a pedagogy. Most reasonable people know that while the topics can be generally defined, the teacher should have the option to choose from a variety of methods.

Textbooks would have trouble supplying these various activities. This should be the strength of a digital state curriculum. A suggested lesson can be supplied. Alternative lessons and activities can be supplied on top of that. Adaptations can be chained, etc. This is the reasonable persons approach. I have seen very unreasonable people complain to top level administration when they disagree with a process.

Re:I never knew... (3, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899857)

How math is taught IS important. I've been doing research into how to teach math and I've learned over the years that the math most schools teach is ONE GROUP OF MEN's way of how to frame mathematics and numbers.

When it comes down to it math is a language to systematize form and structure.

There are numerous angles to teach concepts that are much better then traditional methods. One of the reasons kids find math hard is that they are not taught to DERIVE concepts from things everyone understands: Size, difference, distinction, ratio, motion. i.e. before you even open a textbook and start crunching numbers, you need to be taught how to observe and think conceptually, otherwise the symbols will just seem like jargon disconnected from why mathematical systems were 'invented' in the first place.

What math heads who are good with symbolic computation and manipulation don't understand is that mathematics for most people is difficult without a conceptual framework that they can relate to. Just seeing a bunch of symbols and equations doesn't tell you HOW to think about a general framework and interpretation of concepts that come before "math".

There's also a real cult around mathematics that turns a lot of people off math, since many people around mathematics tend to be rigid. One only has to look at how contemporaries of George Cantor in mathematics treated him when he came up with different ways of viewing numbers and mathematical concepts.

Re:I never knew... (5, Interesting)

TheSync (5291) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899949)

How math is taught IS important.

One of the best educational experiences of my life was when my (public) high school calculus and physics teachers coordinated together so that you would learn calculus we needed as we were learning physics (surely Newton would approve). That way you could learn integration one hour, and find out how to use integration to solve kinetics with velocity and acceleration in the next hour.

Re:I never knew... (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900317)

That way you could learn integration one hour, and find out how to use integration to solve kinetics with velocity and acceleration in the next hour.

I read that as "how to use integration to solve kinetics with Veloceraptors in the next hour." I think most classes would have been more awesome with dinosaurs.

Couldn't be any worse than what we had... (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27898999)

...the printed books we had when I was in school were full of lies. Who cares if these are full of bullshit? So were the old ones. Let's get these kids using some free bullshit and save some money. Of course, instructors who knew the material could teach from Wikipedia, using versions of articles vetted for correctness — a process in which they could participate.

Re:Couldn't be any worse than what we had... (1)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899059)

a process in which they could participate

Education is not a democracy.

Re:Couldn't be any worse than what we had... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899089)

Education is not a democracy.

That's right, the state and federal government decide what thou shalt learn. It most certainly is not a democracy.

Re:Couldn't be any worse than what we had... (1)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900143)

Education is not a democracy.

Thanks Mr. Sanders, my 8th grade history teacher. Now we know we can't vote about being able to go to recess early. I'm glad you cleared that up.

Seriously, Searphim, where does knowledge come from? How does it get disseminated? Please use complete sentences and good grammar while you think about it. "The Bible" is not a correct answer, so I'll save you some embarrassment there.

Re:Couldn't be any worse than what we had... (5, Funny)

skine (1524819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899117)

Of course Wikipedia is a reliable source. According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , Wikipedia is just as accurate and contains has similar rate of errors as that of Encyclopedia Britannica.

Re:Couldn't be any worse than what we had... (4, Informative)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899131)

More seriously, for a checked version of Wikipedia that's been compiled specially for use in schools:

http://schools-wikipedia.org/ [schools-wikipedia.org]

Re:Couldn't be any worse than what we had... (5, Insightful)

inviolet (797804) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899411)

I'm with ya. I endured public education through high school, and it taught me that education = boredom. And who knows how many false but socially useful ideas they installed in me. (e.g. grading on a curve = you lose if people are better than you = life is a zero sum game = nasty false idea)

I sent my sons to private school until they were 8 and 10. I tried montessori and also an elite Lutheran school (despite its religiousness). This past year I switched my job to telecommuting and now I home-school them. They absorb the information like sponges, because kids these days have highly active minds due to the ocean of data that we all live in.

This month is the end of our first year doing this. I didn't think I could do it, but I did, and it's not hard any more. We've covered sociology/history from the African jungle through the Macedonian empire, physics (all the basics), and information theory (including basic algol programming in C++/C#). I picked those topics because they actually dovetail at many interesting points... and I enjoy them enough to teach them passionately.

My ex, who is of a different mind, teaches math, reading comprehension, writing, and biology. It's an excellent division of labor. And now my kids routinely ask me if we can learn about a certain topic in school tomorrow (last request was to learn how escalators work).

I used to think homeschoolers were all religious nutjobs. In fact most of them are (the curricula sold at homeschool bookstores can only be described as 'wacky'), but homeschool can be as rational as the parents are. If I can do it, so can you. You'll have to study to do it, but that's not a bad thing.

Now I look back on public school and it just seems like an impossible job: mass education that must proceed at the pace of the slowest child in the room, run by unionized teachers who reject performance criteria and do not care about your kids anyway, teaching a publicly approved curriculum where 'public' = a bunch of envirous religious dolts. Completely impossible. But we can opt out.

Elements (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899015)

Get it from the source.

Open source ? (5, Insightful)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899021)

How is this open source ? You can already read what goes into a book, so the source isn't hidden. Maybe they meant community contributed and owned ? Copyright is the issue, not authorship.

Re:Open source ? (2, Insightful)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899123)

Becuase "Open source" has become a buzzword, used to describe something even vaugely similar to the concept.

That's not to say that this textbook initiative is a bad idea, but the terminology is flat out wrong.

Re:Open source ? (5, Informative)

BrokenSegue (895288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899391)

No, you're mistaken. Here's what happened. We used to call projects like this "free" (as in speech) or libre. The problem was that (lay)people confused that concept with gratis (as in beer).

The phrase "open source" was created to solve that problem. Since libre software usually implies that the source is public. The concept was then extended to everything. Now open source really just means available under an open source license, which is defined by the OSI.

You're making the same point RMS made when the phrase "open source" was coined (iirc) in 1998 Netscape went open source. He claims, rightly, that being free is more than having open source.

Not wrong terminology, changing terminology.

Re:Open source ? (0)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899567)

I know where the term came from, but it quite clearly does not fit here. What is the "source code" for a book?

Free, libre, free as in speech. All of those are better descriptions in this scenario than "open source."

Re:Open source ? (1)

ParanoidJanitor (959839) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899761)

Well, if they're planning on writing the textbooks with LaTeX (I'm told that this is common in publishing), then the open source label would most definitely apply.

Re:Open source ? (1)

msuarezalvarez (667058) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899889)

You say that:

  • it is common in the textbook publishing industry (at least the math textbook publishing industry, really...) to use LaTeX, and
  • since the textbook will be written using LaTeX then the open source label most definitely applies.

According to you, then, we can conclude that the open source label most definitely applies to most textbooks out there...

Since you will most certainly not agree with this consequence of your claim, you'll agree that your claim is patently false.

Re:Open source ? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900029)

Are you joking? He is talking explicitly about the books California is publishing and directly answering the question "Where is the source?". He isn't talking about all text books at all. If you aren't joking, perhaps you are intentionally being dishonest or you have a reading deficit.

Of course, I don't think that it is particularly likely that a state of California funded project will end up using Latex.

Re:Open source ? (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900079)

No.

A document written using LaTeX has source code, like a web page has HTML source code. The LaTeX 'compiler' converts the source code to the typeset document. It's easy to reproduce (and modify) the document if you have the LaTeX source code.

Re:Open source ? (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899825)

I don't think you understood the parent post. These texts would most certainly would not be free (as in without cost.) using any of the terms you describe would likely be confused as "without cost" to the lay person (and thus wrong.) Open source license is more precise, and not as open to mis-interpretation. Sounds like you know what it means, and thus your only objection is "but I thought that should only applied to a computer program." It doesn't so get over it.

Re:Open source ? (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900043)

"Open source" doesn't clarify much either, even in the context of software. All it says by itself is that the source is not secret. Nothing else is guaranteed. And at any rate, you would still have to explain what it means to others.

Now, both "Free" and Open source" have official definitions to try and clarify the matter, but I still have yet to see a truly unambiguous term for this, at least for English-speaking countries.

Re:Open source ? (1)

hazem (472289) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900137)

I know where the term came from, but it quite clearly does not fit here. What is the "source code" for a book?

Free, libre, free as in speech. All of those are better descriptions in this scenario than "open source."

Well, really, the text, graphics, and figures in the book ARE the "source". Think of it is uncompiled.

What makes it correct to call it "open source" is that you and I can take those source text, figures, and graphics, modify them, and re-release them as long as we keep it licensed the same way.

The idea of "open source[code]" has evolved to a more expansive idea of "open source [model]". This is perfectly in line with the philosophy that began as "open source[code]" - that others are free to take what's already been done and extend it to make it more than it was originally (or could have been conceived of by the original authors).

If you think of "source" as the "something from which something comes", then it makes it very natural to use "open source". Under traditional IP models, the source is not free/libre. Under this new model of textbook publishing, the "source" is open, as in free/libre.

Both language and ideas evolve and once you spread it to others, it's inevitable that they will change. A purist may stubbornly say, "Open Source can only be for software", but in the mean time, the rest of us are using the term in a more expansive way.

Re:Open source ? (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900175)

As someone who dated a copy editor at a textbook company there is usually 1.5x the material than what actually makes it in the book. This is true across all disciplines. Having access to said material allows anyone to make their own version of the book. That is what the text being treated as source code is good for, having access to alternative explanations, tangential material and to have the ability to fork at will. Try doing that with a normal textbook.

Re:Open source ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899135)

New slashdot, no more fucking first post [goatse.fr] trolls.

Fucking sucks. Worse than niggers.

Re:Open source ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899153)

California initiative to compile open source science and math textbooks for the state

Funny choice of words.

Re:Open source ? (4, Funny)

Drinking Bleach (975757) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899261)

When the legislators ask why it isn't working, it's because they forgot the optional, but highly recommended, libfactualcorrectness package.

Re:Open source ? (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899855)

So you've not read a mainstream textbook lately then?

Open Access, not Open Source (2, Informative)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899297)

Yeah, I think the more descriptive term would be "open access." [wikipedia.org] The article does talk about "digital" textbooks, whatever that means... in which case "open source" should mean not using a DRMed digital format.

Re:Open source ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899355)

How is this open source?

Textbooks these days come with all kinds of electronic media; powerpoints, lecture outlines, videos. If an instructor wants to run a well organized course where the textbook matches the lectures then the electronic media is a good place to start. The problem is that if the textbook changes then the instructor's materials, which count as a derived work, are technically no longer usable.

Not only is open source teaching materials a huge issue for teachers, it's also a huge issue for students. I teach at a community college and one of the biggest problems for my students is being able to afford the textbooks and lab manuals (granted this particular initiative is for K-12).

I don't know if this can be made to work but, if it could, it would be huge - both for instructors and for students.

Re:Open source ? (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899649)

How is this open source ? You can already read what goes into a book

You obviously haven't tried to read a textbook lately, have you? ;-) It's all nonsense to me.

Re:Open source ? (1)

fph il quozientatore (971015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899903)

How is this open source ? You can already read what goes into a book, so the source isn't hidden. Maybe they meant community contributed and owned ? Copyright is the issue, not authorship.

In this contest, open source could mean that you get access to the original (editable and copyable) text and to the original vector versions of all the included images. A pdf of a book is not any more "open source" than an executable file: with both you have what you need in order to use the material, not modify it. If you are familiar with LaTeX, you will understand immediately. Otherwise, think imagine that HTML were compiled instead of interpreted.

Re:Open source ? (1)

Ninja Programmer (145252) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900379)

The letters and words are open, but the source behind them is not. The process of reviewing the work of an average text book is not open.

Ugh (5, Interesting)

agrippa_cash (590103) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899035)

It is a huge industry that I understand deals in a widely dispursed form of petty graft. I'd much rather we use our public university system (which is well regarded) to compile text books and withhold state funds from districts that insist on going elsewhere. Of course, we would have to pay the UCs something, but we wouldn't have to pay them enough to bribe local school districts. I think textbooks are a racket all up and down the line, but up through the HS level I have a hard time believing that you need or can even attract top level scholars to explain Algebra II (as someone else mentioned) or the Whiskey Rebelion or TekWar.

Wont help computer science much I fear. (1, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899047)

Ok, I didn't do the whole degree thing. Part of the reason was that I felt what was being taught in the computer science classes was out of date and often flat out wrong.

Whats more, the teachers over-priced book as required reading and I was given failing grades for correcting the errors in them.

So long as teachers choose the subject mater, they can choose books that make them money.

Re:Wont help computer science much I fear. (2)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899107)

These are K-12 textbooks, not college textbooks.

I don't know how your government organized their public schools, but I know mine ordinarily assigned all teachers the same books.

Re:Wont help computer science much I fear. (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899293)

In most states the state has some standards and even recommendations but the local school districts actually choose the textbooks to be used. Some districts are very large and receive quite a bit of attention where others are very small and will often just pick what some larger district did.

There is no federal level control of any sort.

Re:Wont help computer science much I fear. (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899573)

In Texas, books are purchased for districts at the state level to save money. Texas being the 9th largest economy in the world (after California, the 8th) we have our own editions written and printed for the state, which is why there was such a huge controversy (here in Texas at least) over whether or not we would "teach" creationism. We came this close >. to electing a creationist majority to the Texas school board who would have done just that.

Re:Wont help computer science much I fear. (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899743)

Ok, I didn't do the whole degree thing. Part of the reason was that I felt what was being taught in the computer science classes was out of date and often flat out wrong.

You should write about your discoveries. Is the big-O notation for quicksort memory usage flat out wrong? Did you find a new mistake in Knuth, or just rediscover one of the handful of known ones? Did you conclusively prove/disprove P=NP? Did you dislike your CA textbook being Wolfram's ANKOS? (that last question will get some folks wound up, for and against...)

Or when you say CS, do you mean vocational code monkey classes? (COBOL? eek) Those vocational training classes are legendarily bad across the entire educational system, but my real Computer Science classes were pretty good, and useful on the job. Just hold your nose in COBOL class and you'll be OK once you get to Discrete Math, CA, AI, all the higher level stuff. I even enjoyed systems analysis which could be pretty much be described as an interesting way to solve problems despite never being used in the real world.

My database theory class was interesting and thought provoking. Vocational DB2 training would not have been quite as interesting.

My Open Math Textbook (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899053)

I'm writing an open math textbook. You can find it here. Feedback is appreciated.

Backfeed (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899085)

Re:Backfeed (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899119)

Ooops! I can't believe I did that. You can bind my textbook here [wordpress.com] .

Re:Backfeed (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899141)

Good one! I see it's freely licensed - you considered putting this up on Wikibooks [wikibooks.org] ?

Re:Backfeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899367)

I've though about it a little, my two main reservations are:

(1) What is the advantage? The only one I see is that it is more accessible and that can be achieved in other ways

(2) It's in LaTeX, and porting it to wikimedia would be a big project... and all future updates would have to be done in both LaTeX and wikimedia...

Re:Backfeed (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899635)

(1) it's preserved and others can hack on it. (2) is probably an issue, though. At least MediaWiki does some TeX ...

Re:Backfeed (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899145)

Can we get an editable format as well? PDFs are quite hard to modify.

Re:Backfeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899239)

It's LaTeX. I can't really post the latex files on my blog, but once I have more free time (in ~2 months) I'm moving to a proper website using izfree. In the mean time you can get the TeX version from here [wordpress.com] . Be warned that it is embed in a wordpress yntax highlighting environment, resulting in a script of death... You may prefer to email me at christopherolah.co@gmail.com and I'll be happy to send you a tarball with all the goodies. I'm also working on a question generator.

Re:Backfeed (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899505)

I would think you could upload the tarball the same way you uploaded the pdf (But who knows).

Also, noticed a couple of errors/issues in the preface: starring should be staring and defense is probably preferred over defence (you aren't calling it a maths book, so presumably you are writing to a US audience).

Re:Backfeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27900347)

Unfortunately, that is not possible: wordpress only allows files of certain types. It makes me want to pull my hair out! (well, maybe not quite that bad.)

Re:Backfeed (1)

Gible (526142) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899829)

As an ex-high school maths teacher I can say that your book is (probably - I only read pars of it) almost entirely useless because the level of the language used is well above than of the intended recipient - assuming you intend for the students to read this book and not just their teacher(who generally already knows what they're teaching). Sentences like "Multiplecation can also be done by modular arithmetic"... WTF?

OTOH assuming your language level is correct and these students are not the intended recipient, then your level of detail and reasoning is off. eg, negative numbers are not just the answer to "what's smaller than zero?" (zero itself is at least a book's worth of problems), but like many of math's number types, originated in previously insoluble equations - in this case equations of the form x-y=? when y>x.

Re:Backfeed (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27900127)

The amusing thing is that I (the author) am a high school student...

Re:Backfeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899891)

3.14: ``We will call a degree of a polynomial the number the factor that causes the root is to the power of.''

Re:Backfeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899977)

2.8.3: ``A converging sequence is one where the sum of its terms to innity is a nite number.''

Re:My Open Math Textbook (1)

spanky the monk (1499161) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900101)

you forgot the sourceforge link to your book.

Not GOVERnator. GUBERnator. (0, Offtopic)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899073)

As in gubernatorial.

(Yes I know it's quoting TFA which is punctuated to indicate that it's quoting some third source. But it should at least have rated a [sic] if not an outright edit-in-square-brackets.)

Whoosh (1)

Belaj (1073748) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899147)

I believe governator was always a play on governor + terminator. And from a quick search, "gubernator" is not even a real word.

Re:Whoosh (1)

djconrad (1413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899663)

"governator" isn't a real word either, and "gubernator" also makes the same word play. The adjective "gubernatorial" retains the original Latin spelling [etymonline.com] .

Re:Whoosh (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899691)

Whoosh right back at you.

Gubernator is the same play on "gubernatorial" (having to do with a governor) and "terminator".

It works better because the whole string is the leading part of "gubernatorial" but by chopping off the tail and shifting the stress pattern to match "terminator" you also end up with the two trailing sylables identical to those of the latter. (And it comes out sounding somewhat like his accent as well.)

For "governator", on the other hand, you arbitrarily splice parts of the two words, losing the marvelous coincidence in the existing words.

Stop the digital textbooks from gaining sentience (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899101)

But not from forming a union.

No kidding on the "baggage". (5, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899125)

Textbooks are a surprisingly controversial issue in California and there is a lot of political baggage and bureaucratic red tape that will make an open source textbook plan especially troublesome.

No kidding. It's called "bribery", "corruption", and "bureaucratic naivete".

See the seventh chapter of part 5 of Richard P. Feynman's book _"Surely you're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"_, which is titled "Judging Books by Their Covers" for a descripton of the process as of the year he let himself be dragged into it.

(The title comes from an incident where some members of the board submitted ratings for volumes of a textbook set which hadn't yet been completed and so were supplied with the full cover but blank pages.)

Re:No kidding on the "baggage". (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899245)

See the seventh chapter of part 5 of Richard P. Feynman's book _"Surely you're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"_, which is titled "Judging Books by Their Covers" for a descripton of the process as of the year he let himself be dragged into it.

If you're not able to get a copy easily, it is online here [textbookleague.org]

Footnote... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899523)

Your comment needs a link to Feyman's own words [textbookleague.org] .

Regulation kills open source (2, Insightful)

Glass Goldfish (1492293) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899129)

Open source is about the ability of the community to freely access and manipulate, as long as the changes are documented. Regulation is about the control of access and manipulation. Which special interest groups are allowed to look at it before the public? What idea offends which group? Does the example use gender neutral language? Restrictions, restrictions, restrictions...

If it was creationists who were the special interests groups, it would be in the article. If creationists go anywhere near science there are people screaming about it. Which special interest groups do you think are involved? Maybe the Scientologists will be able to write the text book on psychology?

Re:Regulation kills open source (1)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899723)

Open source is about the ability of the community to freely access and manipulate, as long as the changes are documented. Regulation is about the control of access and manipulation.

Those don't seem mutually exclusive to me at all. Most successful open projects don't just let anybody come in and touch their source--they're free to make a branch, but the "official" source tree is guarded by people that care about its quality and reputation.

Maybe the Scientologists will be able to write the text book on psychology?

Hey, why not...after all, that "you have to teach both sides of the story" fallacy seems to be working out pretty well for the creationists in a few places.

Hrm... so instead of getting involved in an edit w (2, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899149)

Use Wikipedia for what it does best.

Why not use Wikipedia/Wikibooks content as a text book?

Each teacher compiles the list of articles for the class to read, prints them out, and distributes the printouts periodically during the semester (along with a copy of the GFDL license), and that forms the text...

Re:Hrm... so instead of getting involved in an edi (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899335)

Mod +5 Funny

Seriously? Use /Wikipedia/ in a classroom?

I'm... staggered that anyone would suggest that seriously. I hope you're joking.

Re:Hrm... so instead of getting involved in an edi (1)

Red Alastor (742410) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899643)

It wouldn't work, teachers hate Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is more than reliable enough for homework needs but it makes the information way to easy to reach for the teachers to be comfortable. They don't really care about what you learn or produce, they care about how much you worked for it. Wikipedia means you don't have to jump through as many hoops and they really hate that.

Return on investment (5, Insightful)

FilterMapReduce (1296509) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899265)

I've been saying for years that it would be a great idea for public schools to invest in the production of open-source-style licensed textbooks. As long as textbooks are being sold by traditional publishers, they get to charge a per-unit price for them. If you want ten million students to read some publishing house's version of Our Glossy History of America or what have you, then you have to pay ten million times n dollars. If you instead invest in having a new textbook written from scratch and placed under a Creative Commons license, then you pay an up-front cost (expensive, no doubt, but probably pretty cheap as line items on the state budget go) and then it can be issued to any arbitrary number of students for no more than the cost of having copies printed up by the lowest bidder. The publisher's markup, marketing costs, and distribution costs vanish from the price.

There are external benefits, too. Some day it might be plausible for schools to save even more money by going all-digital; they wouldn't even have to pay to print the books. If the books are formatted in such a way that they can be printed paper-bound at your local Kinko's (the way most college readers are), students could cheaply have one or two extra copies as their private property—one to highlight and take notes in, or one copy for the locker and one for home. And free online textbooks would be a resource to autodidacts and other schools, not just in the state, but anywhere on the Internet.

The analogy to open-source software is apt. These days, reproducing information costs next to nothing, as long as it was produced by someone who chooses not to charge a per-unit price. Public schools essentially pay rent on individual textbooks issued to students, not unlike the so-called Microsoft tax when you buy a PC. I have nothing against the textbook publishers' profit-seeking activities—they're free to try whatever business model they like—but philanthropists and volunteers really ought to be able to beat their prices.

Re:Return on investment (3, Informative)

HashDefine (590370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899381)

I've been saying for years that it would be a great idea for public schools to invest in the production of open-source-style licensed textbooks.

This is very similar to how it is done in India. The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is charged with the task of creating texts for grades 1 to 12. I remember the books as being fairly high quality in terms of content but a bit dry as compared to the "imported" text books. You can download pdf's of the most of the books from NCERT's web site [ncert.nic.in] .

Re:Return on investment (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899699)

Are the books themselves available? I looked at several and all there was was the table of contents.

Re:Return on investment (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899549)

For millions of (paper) books, reproduction costs will dwarf the actual production costs.

Well, unless you get Zach Snyder to do it.

Re:Return on investment (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899973)

Since you're talking about the costs... printed matter for a book on, say, Algebra, that hasn't changed in 100 years is going to be cheaper to print once and be done with, than to buy the cheapest available text over and over every year or two. Heck, print it in indelible ink on Tyvek while you're at it and bind it with a lexan and carbon fiber composite.. That way it will last longer.

The ultimate geek/literary conflict (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899395)

Big-endian versus little-endian!

Terminate them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899431)

The special interest groups, that is. Or, at least, simply ignore them -- these texts are for science and math, and no amount of special interest should matter. The only thing going into these books should be facts, presented as facts, and viable theories, presented as theories. Nothing else should go into these books, including philosophy or politics.

Of course there should be oversight, but the panel should only consider matters of scientific accuracy (1+1=2) and not agendas. If the issue raised by a SIG is "we do not agree with calling the numbers 1 and 2", then an endnote in the text may say "some people do not agree with calling the numbers 1 and 2". The SIGs should be given no further consideration than that for deviating from the established science.

As for Wikipedia, I've always assumed that the slogan is a sentence fragment. The complete version is this:

Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit, but not everyone should.

Sums it up rather succinctly.

Another challenge (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899489)

Printing copies of the books. You can pay someone to write them but you still need to get copies into the students' hands.

Electronic distribution - aside from the initial cost; replacing lost / damages readers would be an ongoing cost and nightmare.

the textbook scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899607)

My favorite was going to the university bookstore and being forced to buy the "Nth edition" of some textbook.

It was brand new, with no changes from the previous editions, other than the ISBN description.

Being new, it was not available used. Hence $120 or so rather than $25 or so.

never happen (1)

paranoic (126081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899613)

This will never happen as school administrators are extremely risk adverse. They will never be able to accept the risk that the reason their students didn't do well is that the open source textbook they used didn't meet the state/federal curriculum standards. The state/federal education agencies will also never certify that any text book meets their curriculum standards.

Singularity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899783)

It won't be a problem after the Singularity. There will not be school administrators around.

Wikischools is total crap (2, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899757)

I just reviewed the section on World War II.

on World War II [schools-wikipedia.org]

1) These retards have the Battle of the Somme taking place during World War II, when it was rather an affair of World War I.

2) The battle of Smolensk has an article, but the battle of Kursk does not? Kursk was only one of the largest tank battles of all time and the last great offensive in the east... but I guess that's not important.

3) Richard OConnor gets a write up, but not Alan Brooke, Ike, or, Zhukov?

4) The economic underpinnings of the war are not touched on at all. Indeed, the whole history of World War II takes place against a backdrop of the economics of the powers involved, and provides the basic narrative of the struggle. For Americans, where's the talk about how 100 years of protectionism left the USA standing with enough industrial capacity to build 25 aircraft carriers, a bunch of battleships, cruisers, countless destroyers, tens of thousands of aircraft, tanks, guns, and still have enough capacity left over for a speculative bet on the atomic bomb. The great American lesson of WWII is that self reliant industrial capacity wins wars and if any lesson about the war is relevant to the USA today, it is that one.

5) The article about Nazism is, well completely wrong. Given that the head of the SA was a homosexual, and that was known to Hitler and co for some time, its hard to make the argument that the Nazis were more anti-gay than anti-jewish, although granted, Hitler did use Rohm's gayness as one of many charges against him.

All in all, if this is what open source history is, I'd say its crap.

Re:Wikischools is total crap (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 5 years ago | (#27899799)

I bet it isn't as bad as Conservapedia [conservapedia.com] , which is just chock full of nonsense.

Re:Wikischools is total crap (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900081)

I bet it isn't as bad as Conservapedia, which is just chock full of nonsense.

What does that have to do with anything?

Re:Wikischools is total crap (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900159)

Conservapedia is touted as a resource for schools and schoolchildren by its promoters, that's why.

Re:Wikischools is total crap (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900321)

Just because conservapedia is retarded doesn't make the "Somme took place in World War II" source any more correct.

Re:Wikischools is total crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27900051)

5) The article about Nazism is, well completely wrong. Given that the head of the SA was a homosexual, and that was known to Hitler and co for some time, its hard to make the argument that the Nazis were more anti-gay than anti-jewish, although granted, Hitler did use Rohm's gayness as one of many charges against him.

The section on Nazism that I found had this to say about homosexuality:

An estimated 100,000 homosexuals were arrested after Hitlerâ(TM)s rise to power in the 1930s. Of those, 50,000 were suspected to be incarcerated in concentration camps, making for 5,000 to 15,000 deaths. According to Harry Oosterhuis, the Nazisâ(TM) original view toward homosexuality was at least ambiguous if not openly tolerant or even approving, with homosexuality common in the Sturmabteilung(SA) which was critical to Hitler as the paramilitary arm of the NSDAP. Thus, the eventual arrests of homosexuals should not be viewed in the context of âoerace hygieneâ or eugenics. VÃlkisch-nationalist youth movements attracted homosexuals because of the preaching of MÃnnerbund (male bonding); in practice, Oosterhuis says, this meant that the persecution of homosexuals was more politically motivated or opportunistic than anything else. For example, the homosexuality of Ernst RÃhm and other leaders of the Sturmabteilung was well known for years and became the basis for satire and jokes, including in the Army, which was highly suspicious and resentful of the SAâ(TM)s power and size. RÃhm was killed chiefly because he was perceived as a political threat, not for his homosexuality. Indeed, it was only after the murder of Roehm that the Nazis publicly expressed concern about the depraved morals of Roehm and the other S.A. leaders who were shot. â¦Hitler in addressing the surviving storm troop leaders in Munich at noon on June 30, just after the first executions, declared that for their corrupt morals alone these men deserved to die.

Eventually, Nazism declared itself incompatible with homosexuality, because gays did not reproduce and perpetuate the master race. In 1936, Heinrich Himmler, Chief of the SS, created the "Reich Central Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion." Homosexuality was declared contrary to "wholesome popular sentiment," and gay men were regarded as "defilers of German blood." Homosexuals were persecuted for their sexuality. When they were prisoners in a concentration camp, they were forced to wear a pink triangle.

Nothing in there looks obviously wrong to me. Were you just trolling, or were you looking at a different section than I was?

Re:Wikischools is total crap (4, Informative)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900263)

1. http://schools-wikipedia.org/wp/b/Battle_of_the_Somme.htm [schools-wikipedia.org] clearly states it was in WW1. I'm not sure why that shows up in their WW2 list, but that looks to be some kind of index, possibly based on the fact that WW2 is mentioned as a "related" subject. Even if it is a blooper, it's an indexing mistake, and it's incorrect to claim they "have the Battle of the Somme taking place during World War II" when the article explicitly does not state that.

2,3. Not covering everything you consider important makes it total crap? (Wikipedia does have an article on it - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kursk [wikipedia.org] - FWIW, not sure why they didn't select it too.)

4. Again, that it doesn't cover everything doesn't equate to "total crap" to me. And issues such as relative importance of what should be covered, and factors in WW2, sound very much to be something that there will be differing opinions. Why should I take the opinion of an anonymous poster on Slashdot as authoritative? I mean:

The great American lesson of WWII is that self reliant industrial capacity wins wars and if any lesson about the war is relevant to the USA today, it is that one.

Is it? Says who? (Also remember that Wikipedia is an international project, so it is not solely concerned with looking at things from an American viewpoint - though I admit that may be something that is disliked, because people tend to prefer teaching versions focused on their own country. Similarly here in the UK, where the history that is taught is almost entirely focused on British history.)

5. Whatever the sexuality of certain Nazis (sources?), there is plenty of evidence regarding their treatment of homosexuals, e.g., in concentration camps (which bit are you referring to when you say "the argument that the Nazis were more anti-gay than anti-jewish").

Possibly you mean "Wikischools is total crap, because of one indexing blooper, and the rest of it doesn't fit into my personal viewpoint of what I think is important".

Re:Wikischools is total crap (1)

bwalling (195998) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900291)

If I read a textbook with your thoughts on #4, I'd toss it in the trash. The benefits of trade have been clearly evidenced through numerous academic studies. To suggest that self reliant industrial capacity was responsible for the end of the war ignores several facts. First, Germany was able to start the war due to the same thing. Second, most of the industrialized countries were on our side, meaning that even if production were distributed, it would have still occurred. Third, specialization leads to greater efficiency, so we would have had not only more weapons, but better weapons. Fourth, since Germany and friends turned on the larger portion of the world, they would have been cut off from the majority of the factors of production and therefore unable to produce enough weapons to sustain. Fifth, with free trade, Germany would have been too dependent on other countries for other necessities to even think about waging war on them.

Everyone in protective isolation is a more likely brewing ground for hostility and war than everyone in cooperative interdependency.

Re:Wikischools is total crap (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900401)

If I read a textbook with your thoughts on #4, I'd toss it in the trash. The benefits of trade have been clearly evidenced through numerous academic studies

That's not true at all. If free trade were so good, economists would be forcasting a date when the trade deficit will be balanced. But you can't and they can't and no one can.

The fact of the matter is, the USA got where it got because of protectionism. Just look at the tariff history from 1830-1940, and the increase in national wealth, versus the gradual decrease in national wealth, that has taken place, and accelerated with, the increasing openness of trade.

Everyone in protective isolation is a more likely brewing ground for hostility and war than everyone in cooperative interdependency.

Dude, I could grab a dozen programmers that would hope that Pakistan nukes India, a dozen guys from the UAW that hope that Japan has a giant Tsunami, textile workers that hope for a plague on China, and so on. Free trade leads to wage competition, destabilizes societies, and really pisses people off.

In any case, let me know when the trade deficit will be 0. It won't, as long as we have free trade. The only people that benefit from free trade are a slovenly, lazy investment class, and those people are more deserving of a gunshot to the back of the head than they are of continued federal subsidies.

I found a bug in a piece of Open Source software! (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900331)

Therefor all Open Source software is crap.

Portability is the danger (2, Interesting)

XB-70 (812342) | more than 5 years ago | (#27900319)

If so-called open source (i.e. copyleft) textbooks are created it will suddenly be possible to legally digitally or physically copy and print any number of pages any number of times. Further to that, a digital version of the ENTIRE CURRICULUM could be distributed extremely inexpensively to every student in the system.

By taking this step, great harm would come to education and educators. Students would no longer have an excuse: "I left my book at ....". This would mean that educators would be required to spend more time teaching rather than dealing with various accountability issues. As a result, debates would rage about shortening numbers of class-time hours required to complete a given course.

I think we should drop the whole concept and drop it quickly before it starts to gain momentum.

Worse yet, this idea might spread to other jurisdictions.

Please join and log in to: http://www.keep_repressing_education.org/ [keeprepres...cation.org] and help us stop the madness.

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