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Popular YouTuber's Math Videos Added to Digital Textbooks

Nonprofit OpenStax, which makes free online learning materials, has partnered with tutoring firm Scalar Learning. Enhanced algebra and trigonometry books featuring YouTuber Huzefa Kapadia will be out soon.

Advanced Math
Advanced Math
At his full-time job, Huzefa Kapadia spends about 60 hours a week helping Southern California high school students understand polynomials, radicals and quadratic functions. But globally, he’s more known for producing videos that simplify difficult math concepts, amassing more than 7.5 million views and 68,000 subscribers on his Scalar Learning YouTube channel.

Those online videos will be incorporated into an existing OpenStax digital textbook collection, which spans from basic algebra to calculus. The first batch, algebra and trigonometry textbooks, are slated for updates by the end of this summer, according to a May 4 news release.

OpenStax, a nonprofit institution based at Rice University in Texas, has more than 60 free and open resources, including digital textbooks for both college and K-12 learners, according to the news release. Kapadia, founder and president of Scalar Learning, will produce hundreds of new videos for OpenStax in addition to sharing the 1,000-plus YouTube episodes he’s already posted. He calls this partnership “a massive leveling of the playing field.”

“Yes, this helps children who would not have the money for tutoring after school, but it also serves kids in poorer school districts that maybe just aren’t connecting with their teachers and feel defeated when it comes to math,” Kapadia said during an interview with Government Technology Wednesday. “I think it will have a very large mass appeal.”

In high school, the Michigan native said he scored a 770 out of 800 on the math section of the SAT, and has since taken the test six more times, scoring 800 for all but one of them. He originally majored in computer science and worked as a software developer until jury duty inspired him to attend law school. He worked as a patent attorney for international law firms before growing tired of office solitude. After soliciting advice on self-employment, Kapadia was torn between opening a doggy day care center or tutoring math. He chose the latter. By then he was based in the Los Angeles area and didn’t have any connections in education. He started a new career in the gig economy via and, offering his services for $20 an hour. Over time, with a long list of positive reviews and satisfied customers, Kapadia was able to formalize his trade into a business and make a good living at it.

YouTube was, and still is, a hobby for Kapadia. His initial inspiration was to perform. He made music videos where he explained advanced equation concepts for SAT preparation by singing three verses and a chorus. With plenty of positive feedback from viewers, Kapadia was motivated to produce longer videos where he could cover math in greater detail while also showcasing his personality in a more serious manner.

“This is what I’ve always loved to do,” he said. “That connection is super special.”

Kapadia is a fan of other online learning modules, including Khan Academy. He said he’s trying to carve out a niche in his “walk-through” approach to explaining math.

The digital textbooks are available to anyone online, and users in other countries can access subtitle functions. For teacher use, they are formatted so every odd question/problem is hyperlinked to a corresponding video from Kapadia. The even questions, which are not hyperlinked, allow classroom teachers to assign an additional problem on the same concept and provide their own instruction.

"The combination of our textbooks with Scalar Learning's video explanations creates an exciting and effective learning experience for students,” Anthony Palmiotto, OpenStax director of higher education, said in the news release. “This comprehensive approach helps students of all backgrounds and levels expand their understanding of math, and hopefully instills an enthusiasm for the subject, while also providing instructors with resources to complement their teaching."
Aaron Gifford has several years of professional writing experience, primarily with daily newspapers and specialty publications in upstate New York. He attended the University at Buffalo and is based in Cazenovia, NY.