Calculus Tweetwars: The End

The Calculus Tweetwars: Act 3

We hope you’ve enjoyed the production of “The Calculus Tweetwars” and thanks to all that participated by interacting with the characters.
Also, check out our mention in the Chronicle of Higher Education Newton and Leibniz Duke it out on Twitter

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The Calculus Tweetwars

I wanted to wait until I was SURE that this was going to happen before I mentioned it here.  My Honors Calculus II students have decided to “tweet” The Calculus Wars for modern times.

Their assignment was to read “The Calculus Wars” by Jason Socrates Bardi, and then come up with a project (individually or collectively) that requires them to further explore something from the book.  A few years ago, I had one student in this course and he build the Leibniz Calculating Machine the animation software Blender (you can see it here).

Anyways, this year, there are three students.  During our discussion of the book, we observed that the scientists involved were like the bloggers and tweeters of their time, sending and publishing an incredible amount of correspondence (some anonymous) via really old-fashioned mail (i.e. SLOW).  Then we wandered into what it would look like if the Calculus Wars happened today and all the characters were in Facebook (friending, unfriending, fan pages, wall posting, etc.).  Ultimately, the students decided to work together to create a modern-day recreation of The Calculus Wars.  Facebook turned out to be too difficult (each follower would have to “friend” each character in order to see the storyline play out).

The students have written a rather lengthy script that includes a rather large cast of characters.  In order to get the twitter accounts, they had to first get email addresses for each character.  Let’s just say we now know how many email or twitter accounts you can set up on one IP address before you get blocked for the day.

We originally tried to use Google Wave to build the script (since it allows for simultaneous collaboration), but it proved to be too glitchy and clunky to get the job done.  About two weeks ago we began transferring the entire script to a Google Doc instead (which, surprise! Also allows simultaneous multi-user collaboration now).  The script is now built as a table so that we could map out the years (1661-1726) against the dates of tweeting, tweets, and who is responsible for putting up the tweets.  There are just a few tweets per year in these early years, but when the Calculus Wars heat up, it will be a lot of work to get all the tweets up properly.

The Calculus Tweetwars started yesterday, and you don’t need a twitter account to follow it.  Just visit the CalcWars Twitter List several times a day to see what’s happened in the lives of Newton, Leibniz, and others.  If you DO have a twitter list, you can just follow the list, and you’ll see all the characters show up in your tweetstream.  Please feel free to interact with the characters as if they were members of your own PLN (personal learning network).

This might seem like a strange academic project to you, but the purpose was to increase awareness of what the Calculus Wars were, and help students see math as something that has not always been so static.  Given that they already have 67 followers after 24 hours, I’d say that the students will be successful with their mission to educate others.

Again, you can follow the project (for the next two weeks) here: http://twitter.com/#list/busynessgirl/calcwars

Enjoy!

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Social Networking for Academics

Lately I’ve been getting some emails expressing bafflement at understanding the plethora of social networks and why on earth they are being used (many of these questions come from academics).  So, here’s a short introduction to social networking for academics (specifically geared towards the mathematics variety).  Watch the 8-minute video here or below.

In the meantime, I can assure you that the only way to “get” social networking is to dive in and try something.  There’s a reason our students enjoy it so!  I resisted for years (and only dove into Facebook in December).  I have made the choice not to “friend” students until they graduate, but that is a personal decision and can be made only by you.

If you are just getting started, I’d recommend FB.  I have not regretted the decision to join at all. If you let FB look at your email addresses (not stored, no worries) you will be able to see who you already know that is on FB (if a picture shows up for them, they are on FB already).

Very important if you decide on FB to try: Go immediately to Settings and turn off all email notifications (or it will swamp your email inbox).

If you decide to try twitter, look me up @busynessgirl.

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