This site contains an electronic version of a calculus textbook linked to a collection of interactive Java applets. The book covers most of the topics of a standard calculus text. Additionally, there are chapters on difference equations and complex functions that are not usually found in standard texts.
Type of Material:
A Java-enabled browser.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
To serve as a supplement for a standard course in calculus.
Target Student Population:
Students in calculus
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
The greatest strength of this online text is the effort the author takes to motivate each new calculus concept as it arises. For example, the definition of the derivative is arrived at after a detailed examination of what constitutes the best affine approximation to a point on the square root function. As another example, the definition of the limit of a sequence follows from representing several sequences graphically and discussing the geometric consequences. The exercises seem well chosen and often tend to support the organic development in the text by focusing on basic concepts. The several Java applets are also well-designed, and, while their purpose is to reinforce the text, they also would serve well as stand-alone demonstrations for classroom use. As a bonus, this author has included an introduction to difference equations and functions in the complex plane, topics not usually associated with standard calculus textbooks.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
With quality content and easy accessibility, this online textbook should prove an effective resource for serious students looking for additional insight into calculus concepts. Some interactive linked Java applets make great one-time in-class demonstrations on several topics, as well as effectively reinforcing the concepts for self-study. The site can also help as a part of self-guided study, group or individual test preparation activity, in which due advantage may be taken of the exercises at the end of each section.
This text would probably be more effective as the primary text in a course rather than as a supplement. This is not necessarily a criticism and is certainly not the authors fault. But if we look at this online material as reference,
and that is its most likely use, then we have to consider that many students will lack the determination and mathematical know-how to work their way through the verbose but well-reasoned development presented here. That there are no answers to the exercises is another deterrent to the use of this text as a reference.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The site navigation is very simple and all interactive applets are fairly intuitive.
A unified hyperlinked structure (not individual section PDF or PS files) could help in using this resource.
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