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open-source labs and homework

How often do you feel like you're reinventing the wheel in your
teaching? Wouldn't it be cool if physics teachers could share
their course materials with each other, but be free to modify them
for their own purposes?

Jim Bregquist, Bill Waggoner, and I have been corresponding via
e-mail about the idea of creating an open-source set of labs
and homework problems for introductory physics. What we mean
by "open-source" may be familiar to those of you who know
about the Linux operating system or the free information
movement. It's sort of like putting your information in the
public domain, but what you actually do is to copyright it and
then give a licensing agreement that makes it, in some
sense, more "free" than something that's in the public domain.
For a typical license that could be
applied to books, see

Legalities aside, the concept is to make some materials that
anyone can use and modify, as they see fit. For instance, a lot
of the UW materials are truly wonderful, but they might use
terminology that's different from what I use in my course,
or I might not want to make my students pay for the whole
Tutorials in Physics workbook if I'm only going to use
a little bit of it. The same goes for some of the MBL
curricula like Real Time Physics.

For starters, I have an open-source lab manual that people
can download from ,
and an open-source textbook, including homework problems, at .
Jim has some labs that he is working on getting ready
for posting on the web as well. The whole project could
easily become very complex and tightly integrated, but for
now we're just envisioning it as a set of individual
teachers' web pages which would be linked to each other.

I'd be very glad to hear from you either on- or off-list
if you're interested in the project, have materials you
could contribute, or know of anything similar that already
exists. If you don't want to maintain your own web page, I
can host your materials for you at

You might also be interested in some links concerning
open-source books that I've collected at