Active Calculus news and updates for Fall 2023

The summer of 2023 has been an exciting time of new developments and opportunities related to Active Calculus. In this post I’ll offer a short overview of the biggest items, and then offer more details in subsequent posts. View this post as a preview of more information to come throughout the month of August.

New website, new blog location: like a fish in water, you’re swimming in it! Thanks for finding the new blog site here on I’m excited to have all of the information about the books and this blog in a single location. Also, some pretty amazing technological developments with PreTeXt have made it possible to build the HTML version of each text right on the hosting server where the books live, so that will make minor updates (for fixing small errors, say) much easier than it was before.

Runestone: a LEAP into the future: “LEAP” stands for “Learning Engineering Analytics Platform”. Imagine having students log in to their book and be able to complete exercises such as Preview Activities and WeBWorK sets right in their HTML with their results saved for them and shared with their instructor. Runestone (which is free and open source) makes this all possible, and we are piloting a Runestone version of Active Calculus (Single Variable) this fall. As noted in a recent post, more info on this to follow after the Mathfest minicourse.

Chapter 8 alternate: Using feedback from instructors who piloted the new version of Chapter 8 last academic year, we now have an alternate version of the text posted here on the website that offers this possibility. More information to come for folks interested in using that version, especially regarding a custom workbook for students for chapters 5-8. Also, I’ll try to make it extremely clear the differences between the two versions and have things organized in a way that makes it easy for people to know which they’re using and where to go for resources.

DoenetML: DoenetML is a new markup language for creating interactive activities for students that is exactly what I’ve been waiting for. I spent a week at the University of Minnesota with about 40 others learning more about the language and its spectacular possibilities. Imagine being able to easily write activities for students that involve moveable graphs and interactive response cells that provide students with immediate feedback … it’s awesome, and you can see some of what a group of folks accomplished at the workshop for preview activities in Active Calculus. Here’s one of my favorites. Like Runestone, DoenetML is free and open source.

Two grant proposals: I’m excited to be part of two large grant proposals — one to extend the types of questions textbooks ask and study how students and instructors use them, and another to establish and grow an open-source ecosystem to support students, teachers, and more. Hopefully there will be good news to share in the future about the being funded and the resulting work and progress they will drive.

Active Prelude in Braille: One of the amazing outcomes of PreTeXt is that the same source that generates the HTML and PDF versions of the text can be used to create a Braille version. Rob Beezer has produced a Braille version of APC that one of my GVSU colleagues will use to work with a blind student this semester. At least as exciting is the work David Austin is doing to generate tactile Braille figures for the Braille version of the text. I look forward to sharing more details soon.

Active Multi – soon with the vector calculus chapter included: Mitch Keller and Nick Long have been hard at work on their additional chapter on vector calculus, and we will soon release that as part of the standard HTML for Active Multi. Watch for a post here on the blog from Mitch and Nick that shares more detail.

Updated ancillaries: by August 21, I expect to post on the Google group for instructors an updated collection of ancillary materials for each of APC, ACS, and ACM. Instructors on the list can see the post from September 6, 2022, for what was available last year; some of that will persist, but I will also be able to add and update.

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