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Edward Cherlin: open source textbooks

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  • Andrius Kulikauskas
    Edward, Yes! Please add my interest, and that of our Minciu Sodas laboratory http://www.ms.lt, to participate in your textbook project. I would gladly work
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 16, 2008
      Edward,

      Yes! Please add my interest, and that of our Minciu Sodas laboratory
      http://www.ms.lt, to participate in your textbook project. I would gladly
      work for you or others to write open source textbooks in math, philosophy,
      fighting peacefully or other subjects. I alert others at our lab who
      might like to write textbooks.

      This semester I've been teaching algebra from my own notes:
      http://www.worknets.org/upload/AndriusKulikauskas/precalculus.pdf
      which are for teaching math based on the deep ideas behind it. I would
      like to write a short book based on that approach. I am thinking to call
      it "Classic Math Problems". Each problem would illustrate a particular
      idea. I would supplement the text with video and additional materials,
      exercises.

      So, for example, I tell my students that algebra is the study of "thinking
      in steps". And here is a problem that teaches that. Suppose you usually
      buy pants in the marketplace because the department store charges
      one-third more. But the store is now having a sale, and everything is
      one-third off. Where should you buy the pants?

      Quite a few people - and sophisticated people - might say that the price
      is now the same, for it is one-third off of one-third more. But if you
      think through it step by step, then you will see given x, that one-third
      more is 4/3 x, and 2/3 of 4/3 x is 8/9 x. So it will be cheaper at the
      store with the sale. For the question is "one-third of what?" This one
      problem is a good, self-contained point to communicate this idea. It is a
      sophisticated problem, but one that you can master. There are many
      variants, such as a stock price that goes up 1/3 and down 1/4, or a tax
      and a rebate. And if you learn 20 or 30 or 50 problems like that, then
      you know all of algebra, or certainly the fundamentals.

      Working together I'm sure we'd discover ways to support all manner of
      self-teaching approaches and preferences. Myself, I'd like to focus on
      self-learning adults (like at our lab) and I'm curious how that compares
      with children learning.

      I'm also interested in related resources. I've organized my students into
      20 teams of 4 or 5 students each. We're collecting quantities (amounts
      and units) for a Math Encyclopedia. Each team is working on a dimension
      like price, speed, distance, mass.
      http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?MathEncyclopedia
      My hope is that we'll have 1,000 or 2,000 facts in a few weeks and then
      can build from there.

      My work and Minciu Sodas's work is in the Public Domain and it would be
      great if that might always be an option, if not the default, in your
      mission. I wish for a culture centered on ethics rather than law.

      Please also know that you can participate at the COMMUNIA meetings in
      Europe through our lab. We're a member and we have travel money for our
      participants, including from the US. The next meetings are Jan 23 in
      Zurich, March in London and June in Turin, Italy. COMMUNIA is, I think,
      in need of such projects.

      I should learn this week if I'm teaching here next semester.

      Edward, Congratulations on your progress! Please keep us posted!

      Andrius

      Andrius Kulikauskas
      Minciu Sodas
      http://www.ms.lt
      ms@...

      ----------------------------------------------

      Edward Cherlin:
      We have agreement in principle from Creative Commons and Open Learning
      Exchange to join our textbook project today. This is in addition to
      previous agreements in principle with Alan Kay of Viewpoints Research,
      Doug Engelbart and his Institute at SRI, FLOSS Manuals, Sugar Labs,
      and various teachers, researchers, subject-matter experts, and
      volunteer groups.

      That means we will have a period of planning and organizing to get
      through, in which each group considers which parts of the mission to
      take on, and how we will support projects and coordinate the work. It
      also means that once we have this more detailed agreement, we will
      have the high-level contacts we need with Ministries of Education
      around the world to talk about contracts. Much of what we do will come
      from volunteers, just as in Free Software, but we have a clear
      opportunity to become self-sustaining for the long term. That means
      not just Earth Treasury, but any of our partners who know something
      that we should convey to our students.

      So I expect to announce a few more things shortly. In the mean time,
      what textbooks would you like to see us tackle? How should we build
      them? How should they teach, or perhaps I should say assist in
      learning? We have to cover every conventional school subject for every
      age, and we need to introduce a few subjects that our children
      desperately need, whether they are in the standard curricula or not.
      And we have to do it in a manner that brings out the powerful ideas at
      the base of each topic, not just the cookbook recipes for getting
      Right Answers that far too many schools focus their attention on. We
      have to teach children how to decide for themselves what is important,
      what is true, and what is real in a world still full of delusion and
      error.

      Andrius, in particular: Can I interest you in getting paid to write
      the best math textbooks ever? Where we tell children the truth about
      the Foundations of Mathematics, and don't pretend that math is utterly
      perfect? Example: In math we can define "proof", leading to Gödel's
      Theorem that there are statements of arithmetic that cannot be proven
      or disproven. But we cannot define "truth". If we could, we could
      construct a statement that was neither true nor false.
    • Edward Cherlin
      ... Please add Minciu Sodas to the partner list at http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/User:Mokurai/Creating_textbooks, and make a page for MS. Also a User: page for
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 16, 2008
        On Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 7:37 AM, Andrius Kulikauskas <ms@...> wrote:
        > Edward,
        >
        > Yes! Please add my interest, and that of our Minciu Sodas laboratory
        > http://www.ms.lt, to participate in your textbook project.

        Please add Minciu Sodas to the partner list at
        http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/User:Mokurai/Creating_textbooks, and make
        a page for MS. Also a User: page for yourself. Since this is a Wiki,
        you are free to make pages for any ideas or projects that you think
        would be appropriate for global education, communications, economic
        development, and attacking the real problems we all face. I recommend,
        if you haven't done it, that you read Doug Engelbart's papers on the
        theme of augmenting collective IQ in order to tackle the world's
        biggest problems, and let us know how your ideas and his fit together.
        I also invite you to write on these subjects in your blog, or for OLPC
        News, Wiser Earth, and the Obama Transition. All three are currently
        seeking bloggers and editors.

        > I would gladly
        > work for you or others to write open source textbooks in math, philosophy,

        As I read Jean Piaget's constructivist theory, the child must
        construct a model of the world out of sense data, using a powerful set
        of built-in tools that are, however, subject to various kinds of
        error. Among the issues for every child are

        o What is real? (Ontology) Ghosts? Nations? Money? Gods?

        o What is true? (Epistemology) How do I tell? What do I believe, and
        why? What counts as evidence? Where do I suspend judgment?

        o What is important? In particular, what should I do even if I don't
        want to? (Ethics) Who says? What are the standards? Why?

        All of these questions are deeply intertwined, and you will notice
        that they inherently do not have Right Answers. Thus the epistemology
        of science carries with it ethical imperatives such as truthfulness,
        and suspending judgment until there is sufficient evidence to proceed.

        > fighting peacefully or other subjects. I alert others at our lab who
        > might like to write textbooks.
        >
        > This semester I've been teaching algebra from my own notes:
        > http://www.worknets.org/upload/AndriusKulikauskas/precalculus.pdf
        > which are for teaching math based on the deep ideas behind it.

        Exactly. You and I will have long discussions on these ideas.

        > I would
        > like to write a short book based on that approach. I am thinking to call
        > it "Classic Math Problems". Each problem would illustrate a particular
        > idea. I would supplement the text with video and additional materials,
        > exercises.

        Please consider where we might use this approach, suggested to me by a
        physics teacher: Every day, start by writing a problem on the
        blackboard, and setting the students to find out as much as they can
        about it. It is not necessary that every such problem have a clear
        solution, as long as it embodies some clear idea to those who
        understand it. Then discuss all of the attempted solutions, and point
        out further paths to explore.

        > So, for example, I tell my students that algebra is the study of "thinking
        > in steps". And here is a problem that teaches that. Suppose you usually
        > buy pants in the marketplace because the department store charges
        > one-third more. But the store is now having a sale, and everything is
        > one-third off. Where should you buy the pants?
        >
        > Quite a few people - and sophisticated people - might say that the price
        > is now the same, for it is one-third off of one-third more. But if you
        > think through it step by step, then you will see given x, that one-third
        > more is 4/3 x, and 2/3 of 4/3 x is 8/9 x. So it will be cheaper at the
        > store with the sale. For the question is "one-third of what?" This one
        > problem is a good, self-contained point to communicate this idea. It is a
        > sophisticated problem, but one that you can master. There are many
        > variants, such as a stock price that goes up 1/3 and down 1/4, or a tax
        > and a rebate. And if you learn 20 or 30 or 50 problems like that, then
        > you know all of algebra, or certainly the fundamentals.

        +1

        This is an essential instance of the larger idea of context, reduced
        to its bare essentials. Similarly, a measurement is not a number, but
        a number on a scale, defined by a unit and a zero point. Thus, for
        example, Kelvin and Celsius use the same degree, but 100K is -173C.
        Voltage is not an absolute, but only relative to ground or some other
        level appropriate to the purpose. Also, numbers in physics are usually
        not points on the real number line. They must come with estimates of
        precision.

        Getting at purpose is one of the harder ideas to work with in a
        context where by tradition only the Right Answer counts.

        > Working together I'm sure we'd discover ways to support all manner of
        > self-teaching approaches and preferences. Myself, I'd like to focus on
        > self-learning adults (like at our lab) and I'm curious how that compares
        > with children learning.

        The psychology is significantly different, because the adult has a
        developed brain, while the child is learning as brain structures
        continue to grow.

        > I'm also interested in related resources. I've organized my students into
        > 20 teams of 4 or 5 students each. We're collecting quantities (amounts
        > and units) for a Math Encyclopedia. Each team is working on a dimension
        > like price, speed, distance, mass.
        > http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?MathEncyclopedia
        > My hope is that we'll have 1,000 or 2,000 facts in a few weeks and then
        > can build from there.

        I can point you to software that is capable of representing the speed
        of light in furlongs per fortnight, with error estimates.

        > My work and Minciu Sodas's work is in the Public Domain and it would be
        > great if that might always be an option, if not the default, in your
        > mission. I wish for a culture centered on ethics rather than law.

        The standard for OLPC and Sugar is GPL for software, Creative Commons
        for content. Our textbooks will contain a great deal of software, and
        will be GPLed so that nobody can use them in proprietary products. You
        should be aware that there is no legal standing for the idea of
        placing materials in the Public Domain. You always own the copyright
        on your creations, unless you give or sell that copyright to another.
        The best you can do is to grant licenses allowing others to use them
        freely. My notion of free use is that you use them for any private
        purpose of your own, but you may not deny others the freedom to do the
        same in any public use.

        > Please also know that you can participate at the COMMUNIA meetings in
        > Europe through our lab. We're a member and we have travel money for our
        > participants, including from the US. The next meetings are Jan 23 in
        > Zurich, March in London and June in Turin, Italy. COMMUNIA is, I think,
        > in need of such projects.

        I don't think I can make that one, but I will add them to my public
        Google calendar, OLPC Event Suggestions. I and others in this movement
        have a number of calendars that we need to harmonize somehow. I have
        also created one for education grant opportunities, giving application
        deadlines and links. Anyone here is welcome to subscribe and
        contribute. The name is Education Grants.

        You are invited to XOCamp2 in Cambridge MA, Jan 12-17. I will be
        leading a session on textbook design, and I am inviting our other new
        partners. Alan Kay will certainly be there, and we can draw in
        education researchers teachers, and students.
        http://wiki.laptop.org/go/XOCamp_2 There is a possibility of funding
        for travel.

        Do you know about http://networkcultures.org/wpmu/wintercamp/ in
        Amsterdam in March? I will be there with a group from FLOSS Manuals.

        > I should learn this week if I'm teaching here next semester.
        >
        > Edward, Congratulations on your progress! Please keep us posted!
        >
        > Andrius
        >
        > Andrius Kulikauskas
        > Minciu Sodas
        > http://www.ms.lt
        > ms@...
        >
        > ----------------------------------------------
        >
        > Edward Cherlin:
        > We have agreement in principle from Creative Commons and Open Learning
        > Exchange to join our textbook project today. This is in addition to
        > previous agreements in principle with Alan Kay of Viewpoints Research,
        > Doug Engelbart and his Institute at SRI, FLOSS Manuals, Sugar Labs,
        > and various teachers, researchers, subject-matter experts, and
        > volunteer groups.
        >
        > That means we will have a period of planning and organizing to get
        > through, in which each group considers which parts of the mission to
        > take on, and how we will support projects and coordinate the work. It
        > also means that once we have this more detailed agreement, we will
        > have the high-level contacts we need with Ministries of Education
        > around the world to talk about contracts. Much of what we do will come
        > from volunteers, just as in Free Software, but we have a clear
        > opportunity to become self-sustaining for the long term. That means
        > not just Earth Treasury, but any of our partners who know something
        > that we should convey to our students.
        >
        > So I expect to announce a few more things shortly. In the mean time,
        > what textbooks would you like to see us tackle? How should we build
        > them? How should they teach, or perhaps I should say assist in
        > learning? We have to cover every conventional school subject for every
        > age, and we need to introduce a few subjects that our children
        > desperately need, whether they are in the standard curricula or not.
        > And we have to do it in a manner that brings out the powerful ideas at
        > the base of each topic, not just the cookbook recipes for getting
        > Right Answers that far too many schools focus their attention on. We
        > have to teach children how to decide for themselves what is important,
        > what is true, and what is real in a world still full of delusion and
        > error.
        >
        > Andrius, in particular: Can I interest you in getting paid to write
        > the best math textbooks ever? Where we tell children the truth about
        > the Foundations of Mathematics, and don't pretend that math is utterly
        > perfect? Example: In math we can define "proof", leading to Gödel's
        > Theorem that there are statements of arithmetic that cannot be proven
        > or disproven. But we cannot define "truth". If we could, we could
        > construct a statement that was neither true nor false.
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        > Each letter sent to Learning From Each Other enters the PUBLIC DOMAIN unless it explicitly states otherwise http://www.ethicalpublicdomain.org Please be kind to our authors!Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >



        --
        Silent Thunder (默雷/धर्ममेघशब्दगर्ज/دھرممیگھشبدگر ج) is my name
        And Children are my nation.
        The Cosmos is my dwelling place, The Truth my destination.
        http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/User:Mokurai
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