Free/open math textbook written in three days

Here is a free/open upper secondary mathematics textbook written in a single daythree days by a group of Finnish math teachers, working together in a "booksprint." Related news: California's passed a bill establishing 50 "open source" (CC-BY) textbooks for core lower-division college courses (though, as a poster on Slashdot notes, this still has to be funded in the California budget, which is a place where many good ideas go to die). (via Hacker News)



  1. Yeah… cool idea but very far from completed. Most chapters are 100 lines (2 pages) max, many even almost empty. They _started_ writing it on a weekend which is cool in and of itself.

  2. A Finnish math teacher can write 2 textbooks in 120 days. If 1 group of Finnish teachers working together can produce 1 textbook in 3 days, how many Finnish math teachers are in a group?

  3. Without being able to read Finnish, it looks like what they wrote might be equivalent to source code for slides to use in lecture, or bare bones Wikipedia entries on high school math topics.  Obviously not a complete text book, and I’m pretty sure it’s the easiest part.  Example problems work through in detail, practice problems throughout the chapter, and a collection of practice problems with answers available and others with a teacher’s key… these are most of what most students will use in a math text.  And they have to be chosen carefully to be representative and of appropriate difficulty, carefully laid out, and painstakingly proof read or they’ll be worse than useless.

    That said, hopefully they’ll keep pushing and get to a useful point.

    1.  Having worked for a small educational publisher I agree — a textbook is more than a couple lines explaining a concept.  It takes thousands of hours per grade to create complete worked examples (having full step by step solutions that explain the problem solving process), mathML equations, graphics including charts/graphs/diagrams and practice questions — lots and lots of practice questions will full solutions so students can practice what they are learning.

      Then it takes a tremendous amount of time, particularly in mathematics, to edit the whole book.  Every mathML equation and every question needs to be examined and the questions solved independently of the solution to ensure they are accurate.

      Then, finally if you are publishing in XML you need to have a technical person go through the document to ensure that it is valid, well-formed and will render properly.

      One math concept would take, on average 0.5 days of effort for a team of 5 people (2 writers, 1 graphic artist, 1 editor and 1 technical XML person).  An average math course in the US is 1/5th of 180 days of instruction which equals about 216 instructional hours. A math textbook will have about 100 concepts to present in those 216 hours which means it will take 5 people 50 days (almost 3 months) to write a single text book.

      A handful of teachers cannot possibly write a high quality, curriculum aligned and comprehensive resource in a weekend.  It just is not possible.

  4. When I was in college, it was widely told that our calculus professor had written the textbook in two weeks, on a bet. And it might as well have been in finnish. So this one will be better if only on price.

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