Faculty & students at Norwich University write a C++ textbook over a weekend & release the results under a Creative Commons license.
Stretch goal: $5000!
Thanks for the help, everyone! We currently have more than enough to cover our expenses! At $5000, we end up with enough funds to donate about 80 softcover books to schools and libraries. If we go beyond that, we'll be able to give even more away!
My name is Jeremy Hansen, and I teach computer science courses at the oldest private military university in the United States - Norwich University. But enough about me!
Some students have a difficult time with programming courses, and some complaints surface semester after semester:
- Programming is hard!
- The textbooks are expensive!
- The textbooks are confusing!
While it's my job as a teacher to help make learning programming easier, I have a lot less control over the second two complaints. Partially inspired by the Finnish teachers who wrote a mathematics text over a weekend, I proposed to my students writing a replacement textbook over a weekend.
The students were incredibly positive about the idea, and I started going ahead with it. We're going to be doing the "sprint" over 36 hours on April 6th and 7th, and will be livestreaming the event. When we're done, we will publish the textbook in its entirety (and any later updates) on our web site. (I will update this project with a link once we have the web site set up.)
We're looking for funding to offset the cost of the domain, web hosting for the files, and food for the weekend. If we go beyond our $500 target, we will be getting the text professionally copy-edited and may hire a professional graphic designer.
Take a look at the video above to hear what some of the students think, and please feel free to contact us if you have any questions!
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Given that we're setting an ambitious timeline (36 hours), the book may not get finished by Sunday. This is especially problematic if the volunteers who have already expressed an interest in participating do not show up, or only show up for a short time. Should that happen, we intend to finish the book by the end of the semester, even if we don't finish it in the initial "sprint".
Will someone not in a programing class be able to use the textbook on his or her own or will the text book need to be coupled with a class to be effective?
That's a good question - I'm working closely with students who are both skilled and unskilled in programming so that it makes sense to me and to all of them. We're hoping to make the text as straightforward as possible and useful to folks outside of formal classes, but I hesitate to make any promises about what it will and won't deliver before we write the thing. If you have any suggestions, I'm definitely interested in hearing them!
I'm confident that the subsequent versions will get better and better, so if it turns out that there's one part of the book that's hard to understand, we will want to hear about it so that it can be clarified quickly.
We hope to provide a PDF (or similar) version of the textbook on our web site before the physical books ship probably near the end of April if all goes well. This will be freely available to anyone who wants to use it under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license, as described here: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/deed.en_US