For one weekend, some twenty teachers took on the challenge of writing a textbook for a high school math class. And it will be available under a free license CC-BY, therefore reusable, modifiable and translatable.
This idea was realized at the end of September, in Finland. The product is not completely finished since the work is currently in version 0.93, so very close to the goal! The team of Framblog, these free culture enthusiasts, translated an interview conducted by the organization CreativeCommons with a participant, Joonas Mäkinen, of which here is a preview.
First, Mäkinen explains that the textbook introduces arithmetic, rational numbers, real numbers in general, rules of precedence and roots which lead to the basics of equation solving and then to the concept of function, then proportions and calculating percentages. The contents were chosen according to the end-of-year exam, the only one that is standardized, which gives them freedom as to the order of the concepts.
The drafting was done through a spontaneous and dynamic process. Before the event, no author had a predefined assignment. In addition, their backgrounds were varied: secondary school teachers, university professor, mathematics and computer science students, language specialists, etc. Interestingly, only a few people had experience writing “classic” (“old-fashioned”, the interview says!) textbooks.
It seems that the participants loved the experience: "The general, unanimous and immediate feeling after finishing the marathon on Sunday was euphoria", recalls Joonas Mäkinen. Technical delays and the lack of graphic designers meant that the book did not reach the desired level of finish before sending it to print, so it is currently being fine-tuned. However, the creators have already heard that some teachers have offered exercises to their students, in addition to the authors themselves who use it.
To learn all about the history and find tips for organizing such an event, read the articles:
– Oppikirjamaraton or how to write a free textbook in a weekend!, on Framablog.
– Oppikirjamaraton: How to Write an Open Textbook in a Weekend, at CreativeCommons.org
This concept will surely go a long way. This is already the case for the organization Boundless, located in Boston, which specializes in free educational materials. In early November, more than 20 physics experts from Harvard, MIT, Boston University and elsewhere gathered at his invitation to create a manual introduction to physics in high school. After only 3 days, a third of the work was completed.
On the French-speaking side, let us recall the Sésamath project, which enabled the creation of free license textbooks in mathematics for levels 6e to 3e in France (equivalent of the 6e year to 3e secondary school in Quebec). They may not have been created that quickly, but they are definitely available!