Greetings!  My highschool math team is ready to ditch their textbooks and are looking at organizing and building opensource content to support their classrooms.  While this task seems daunting, we know there are resources like Curriki and Hippocampus that have some great math content. I would really like to reach out to anyone who has been through this to discuss how they implemented such feat!

Thanks Much!
Jen

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I teach Chemistry, Physics, and Advanced Math (among other subjects). I teach online so I use digital tools for both the live, online class delivery as well as a course management system. I do use standard texts still though and have toyed with the idea of going straight digital. By the time I put all the work in to convert a text-based book to a form convenient to the online world of internet instruction, it would have only been a small investment more to have begun from scratch. I love the digital realm to teach in and the students seem to love it too.

Some of the thoughts that I have is to go with a video (easy to produce) or Flash-based (more technical skill needed) instructional end to your 'mathbook'. You will hit more learning styles that way and the interest is so much higher than a text only method. If you go with a playback system that easily lets them fast forward, rewind, and jump to content then all the better. I have used VoiceThread extensively and it is a very nice platform. I am learning Flash and I am excited about the possibilities for animations and interactivity there. Many schools have nice production tools for making rich content.

The harder task is getting digital support for writing the math notations. I use Moodle and Elluminate. Moodle is actually the harder of the two formats to use math with because math notation support is not native to the current and past releases. There are some add-ons using LaTex that improve the situation, but the kids and I both desire the ease to just write the math and not have to learn a whole new format such as Latex. Moodle version 2.0 is supposed to be released this year. There is rumor of a few new tools that perhaps will remedy this. There is to be a drawing pad support. That would be ideal if the students could simply write out their math for a quiz and I can see an image of it to do the grading.

Elluminate is designed for live, synchronous use. It has a whiteboard with some integrated support for math such as a simple graphing tool and some math notation within the built in clip art gallery. The whiteboard has drawing tools and, with a pen tablet especially, you can write anything with ease that you could write on paper or a chalkboard. If you have Elluminate within your district, live presentations with students can be recorded for later use giving it value as an asynchronous tool as well.

With caveats and a few tools being mentioned, I want to give the upside to digital as a means of course delivery. The kids love it is the biggest pro. I find that my time is saved on the grading side of things because once a quiz is set up (in Moodle), it does the majority of the grading automatically and reports to the grade book all on its own. You can also set up so that parents have 24/7 access to their children's grade book and activity report (also automatically generated by Moodle). I also love that so much can be reused from year to year once the course is built. The structure and learning tools that you collected last year is all there for you in the current year and when you come across new tools and resources it is so easy to integrate them right in to the flow of the course.

To me, if there could just be a significant advancement in the area of making math notation easy to work with in a digital realm, digital would have it all. I foresee that in 5 to 10 years I will have my courses purely digital and not have a textbook 'front-end' to my courses.
Tammy,
This is a wealth of GREAT information! Thanks so much!
Hi Jen,
One thing to consider is why are you ready to ditch textbooks? Is it because you don't like the content? Too much, too little, too static, too hard, too easy, too spoon fed, too tied to tests? Whatever your reason, looking for new content (digital or non-digital) should be informed by those thoughts. Otherwise you'll end up with a new "bucket of stuff" that won't solve your problems.

If it's simply the feeling that textbooks are old and digital content would be better - you should tread carefully there too. Format won't help solve problems of pedagogy. You might be able to find some more interactive tools, but if kids are having basic numeracy problems, Flash won't help.

No textbook is an option as well. If you feel that textbooks are simply checklists of skills designed by committees of people who don't know your children and are just test prep manuals, then perhaps you should design your own textbooks. One of the best things about tools like Curricki is not that it comes with built in content, but that it allows you to build your own, It supports collaboration and lesson planning for a team. And in fact, perhaps students should be building their own curriculum as well. There are enough primary sources, both in great books and on the web, that would allow students to tackle "big issue" problems that use math in authentic ways, and build resources that support the process.
Check out http://www.collegeopentextbooks.org/ to get some helpful information on open textbooks. The Community College Open Textbook Collaborative (CCOTC) provides training for instructors who are adopting open resources as well as support for authors who are opening their resources. Having just graduated from college and working with the CCOTC, I might be able to provide you some interesting insight. Happy to help you if I can.
I am going to pass this on to my math Department and will keep you in mind as questions come up! Thanks!
Check out what Eric Marcos is doing Kids Teach Kids with Mathcasting . In this class kids create the content. Amazing stuff!
WOW - That is an excellent resource! Thanks for sharing....

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