I’m Matt Boelkins, lead author of Active Single, sole author of Active Prelude, and contributor to Active Multi. I’m Professor of Mathematics at Grand Valley State University; you can learn more about me at my GVSU faculty page.
Two main forces led me to start Active Calculus: the absurd costs of for-profit texts, and the lack of teaching materials to support active learning, given that research shows students learn better through interactive engagement. In the decade+ since I started in 2010, this project has become a central focus of my professional work.
Thanks to support from two different sabbaticals from GVSU, I was able to make substantial progress on two texts: the first 4 chapters of Active Calculus Single (spring 2012), and the first draft of Active Prelude (fall 2018). A brief timeline of some major events can be found at the bottom of this page.
There are many individuals and groups to thank for their support of Active Calculus. The HTML version of the text is only possible because of PreTeXt and the amazing dream and work of Rob Beezer. I’ve gotten to be a consultant on several grants held by Vilma Mesa and her collaborators; these projects have studied how free, online texts are used by students and faculty, and have promoted their use. Active Calculus was even the subject of a research commentary on how its use shaped an instructors teaching practice. David Austin, Steven Schlicker, Mitch Keller, Nick Long, and Chrissy Safranski have been active collaborators who have all made ongoing and substantial contributions that have created new content and/or improved existing content. And Mitch continues to play a central role in making all of the technical aspects of textbook production work. Finally, David Farmer has long been a source of support and counsel. All of these individuals have contributed to making the texts better and more widely known.
But the text would be useless if people didn’t actually teach from it. While precise numbers are hard to track, Active Single has been formally adopted at more than 50 different institutions, and is being used by faculty in at least their own classes at many more than 50 additional institutions. I’m deeply grateful to every instructor who chooses to use one of the texts, and especially to those and their students who send feedback in order to make them better. Thank you!
I look forward to seeing what the next decade brings.
A timeline of some key events in the history of Active Calculus:
- August 2012, chapters 1-4 of Active Calculus Single are made public (PDF)
- January 2013, chapters 5-8 of Active Calculus Single are made public (PDF)
- August 2014, first print version of Active Calculus Single is made available via print-on-demand services
- August 2015, Active Calculus Multivariable is first made public (PDF)
- April 2016, I attended the first PreTeXt workshop (then called Mathbook XML) at the American Institute of Mathematics
- August 2017, Active Calculus Single is made available in HTML format; source files post on GitHub
- August 2018, Active Calculus Multi is made available in HTML format
- January 2018, a new online home for the books: activecalculus.org
- January 2019, Active Prelude is made public (HTML and PDF)
- January 2020, the Google group “active-calculus-users” is launched
- January 2023, a first Runestone version of Active Single is pilot-tested with students
- June 2023, the PROSE Consortium is formed
- July 2023, an updated online home here at activecalculus.org is launched
- August 2023, Mathfest Minicourse: Teaching Active Calculus with Runestone, with Chrissy Safranski