Last time that I posted about MathBootCamps, I mentioned my linear algebra study guide about span and linear combinations and the concept of releasing a book a chapter at a time. This has evolved into releasing three different types of downloads on the site:
- Study Guides – the first example of this is the linear algebra guide. Eventually there will be enough released for each topic to constitute a full review of a course.
- Calculator Guides – these are focused on tasks associated with the TI83/84 calculator, which is still used quite a bit in high school and college settings. This would probably cover a few books worth of material since there could be full guides for different courses.
- Problem Packs – the idea here is that for any given post on MathBootCamps, there can be an associated problem pack. These are basically workbooks focusing on a very specific idea.
Finally, I have the first calculator guide finished! The focus of this particular guide is statistical plots such as histograms, boxplots, etc. This seemed like the best place to start for what can eventually be a complete guide to statistics on the TI83/84. It took a bit to get the instructions so that they are easy to follow and to get the screenshots so that they look good and consistent. I also made sure to have another person run through, edit the writing, and try out the steps themselves to catch anything confusing. The audience is students taking stats or first-time stats teachers who are approaching the course using the TI83/84.
The biggest thing I tried to do with this guide was make it so that someone reading it could jump into any section they want without needing to read through all of the previous sections. This inspiration was taken from the “cookbook” style books that are out there for programming.
You can download at the guide here: https://gum.co/nPkOS
This week marks the beginning of an interesting experiment. For a long time, one of the goals for MathBootCamps has been to offer review books (think: Schaum’s outline and similar) to students for a wide variety of topics. This is a huge undertaking; so big in fact, that it is hard to know where to even start. This has resulted in a lot of partially finished writing laying around in different folders.
Visitors to mathbootcamps.com, however, are probably not looking for an entire review book just yet. The majority of my traffic is from students who are trying to understand a specific topic and have found me through a google search.
With this in mind, I realized that I could release chapters, or even sections, of review books as they are finished. Each one would essentially be a study guide for that particular topic. These could then be made available to students visiting any related page on mathbootcamps.com. As a writer, this means I could jump from topic to topic (write one chapter for stats, write another for linear algebra – it’s more fun that way!) and adjust as I go based on feedback. Eventually, a group of study guides could then be offered together as a book, once a particular topic has been covered completely.
Yesterday, I made my first study guide available!
Click to check it out (overlay – you won’t be taken to a new page)
A few things to note:
- I went with “pay what you want” pricing. I want people to be able to access the information freely, but also be able to support MathBootCamps if they choose.
- This would probably be chapter 3 or 4 of a linear algebra review book. But, with releasing chapters like this, there is no need to go in order. This would certainly be different were someone to try releasing a chapter at a time of a fiction text.
- I’m using gumroad. There were several other options I reviewed and this looked the best for now. This choice and my experience will be part of a future post.
- It was a ton of work to put this together. Even though the study guide is only 40 pages, I edited it at least three times and rewrote sections more than once. I had to come up with a style that would be used throughout and get around the tech stuff as well. This will go much faster with the next study guide.
There is still a lot to figure out. Gumroad gives me a sort of storefront I can send people to, and I need to work on making that look halfway decent. I will also likely make a special study guide page on MathBootCamps once more than one guide is available. Currently, I am working on the next study guide – statistical graphs/plots with the TI83/84 calculator, so that shouldn’t be too long from now!