Below you will find a list of some of the best free online calculus resources I have found on the web. Please check out the previous post for free precalculus resources here and the forum for more free resources.
What are free online calculus resources?
Free online resources for calculus can be anything from open source textbooks, video lectures from amazing professors at highly regarded universities, or example problems with solutions. There are also interactive applets, games and activities to help engage students with the material. Knowing about these resources can give any educator a dynamic set of teaching tools to help all students understand the material no matter what their learning style may be.
Why do we need more?
Whether you are an educator or a student, there is always a need for more resources, especially free ones! Being able to bring in videos, interactive graphs, activities and more can create a more immersive experience for students to dig in to a traditionally dry subject. Help the topics of calculus come alive with different textbooks, videos and class activities. Because students have different learning styles, the more different ways the material can be explained, the better chance at helping students understand. Having more resources available online can also help the students who are at risk of falling behind.
How can these resources integrate into the classroom?
Each teacher understands the needs of their students the best. That is why some of these resources include open note textbooks that can be used as a basis for an entire curriculum, while others are easy to integrate with a curriculum that is already set up. The applets and graphic tools can be nice supplemental materials. One open source textbook even includes classroom activities that can be used no matter what textbook you require for your class. Similarly, the video lectures and online notes can help the students who may be struggling or looking for an alternate explanation to really understand a particularly tough concept.
Free online calculus resources and COVID-19:
With the current health crisis, more classrooms than ever are moving online. This change has come very abruptly for many of us, some of whom have never taught online before. The more online resources we have available for free, the easier this transition can become. Because we are not able to teach in our classrooms, a more dynamic approach including online activities can help students feel engaged, even while trying to learn at home.
How can self-learners benefit from free online resources?
Calculus has many applications to a vast amount of different fields. This is why many people decide to go back to school and learn this subject. However, the cost and time commitment of attending higher education can be prohibitive. With the vast amount of free online learning tools and resources available, those wanting to learn calculus should hopefully be able to understand some of the key concepts and perform some basic problem solving while learning at their own pace.
The top 10 best free online calculus resources:
This website has many interesting applets and graphics that can help students to comprehend the various difficult concepts introduced in calculus. There are derivative puzzles, as well as visual illustrations of different coordinate systems. This is a great resource to help complement otherwise traditional teaching methods.
This great video series on YouTube is a comprehensive Learning Playlist that covers all the basics for calculus. With 17 different easy to understand videos, it can be a great addition to help break down complex ideas. Because many students have different learning styles, these videos can help complement what students have read or practiced in the classroom already.
GeoGebra is a website with free interactive graphing tools. It also contains over 1 million free activities, simulations, games and lessons for mathematics, including calculus. The many interactive activities available, especially games, can help bring comprehensive understanding to those who wish to study calculus and want to expand beyond traditional textbooks alone.
4. Open Source Calculus Textbook
This open source textbook by Gilbert Strang from MIT has multiple 5 star reviews and contains material for both single variable and multivariable calculus. Written to be useful for both instructors and self-learners, there is also an instructor’s manual and a study guide for students. The reviews add that this text includes both big ideas as well as technical details in a very well organized manner.
One of the incredible things about calculus is how many ways the same concepts can be applied in different areas. However, it can be hard to motivate students when they do not realize how applicable the lessons are to their intended field of study. What’s great about this open source textbook, written by James L. Cornette and Ralph A. Ackerman from Iowa State University, is that it is geared toward calculus for the life sciences, and includes a modeling approach which is hugely important in both academia and the workplace.
This calculus textbook by Matt Boelkins, David Austin and Steve Schlicker from Grand Valley State University is freely available in both HTML (online) and PDF form. The many 5 star reviews say it is highly readable and contains the core ideas for a two semester calculus course. Each section includes 3-4 activities to help students develop their understandings of the key ideas. Feel free to try out the class activities no matter what textbook you are already using for your class!
The Calculus Lifesaver is a video series of lectures by a Princeton professor for the Princeton University Press. These videos are noted as helping students understand the key concepts and connect the main ideas. Since calculus can be a subject that many students struggle with, having several video lectures at hand can help explain things in a different way to help frustrating concepts click.
8. Free Lectures from MIT Calculus Course
This free lecture content from an introductory calculus course taught at MIT can similarly be useful. These lectures are available on both YouTube and iTunesU, as well as the entire course being made available at Open Culture’s “Free Online Courses from Great Universities.”
Paul’s Online Notes are a classic calculus resource written by Paul Dawkins from Lamar University. His website includes cheat sheets, example problems, and even a section on how to best study mathematics. The sections on calculus concepts include a comprehensive look at not only the definitions and formulas, but also how to solve many different types of problems.
10. CK-12 Calculus
At this website, CK-12 provides a free Single Variable Calculus FlexBook, which is a type of trademarked interactive textbook available online. It covers topics for Calculus AB courses, including limits, derivatives and integration. This resource provides a new, more immersive way to learn and teach calculus concepts.
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