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A summary of 2013

January 4, 2014 — Leave a comment

DanaHere’s a quick run down on the annual stats for my blog according to Jetpack. For the complete report, go here.

This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2013. My teaching page is a subdomain of my main site, so I’m guessing that a good chunk of that 16,000 is a result of my students clicking around (but I’m not sure about that). In 2013, there were 29 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 63 posts.

The busiest day of the year was September 18th with 340 views. The most popular post that day was Free and Open-Source Textbooks.

The top five most viewed posts in 2013 were:

  1. LaTeX Homework Template, Aug 2012
  2. Mathematics Education on the arXiv?, Jul 2013
  3. Montessori Observations, Apr 2013
  4. An infinite non-cyclic group whose proper subgroups are cyclic, Dec 2013
  5. Euler’s Research Rules, Oct 2013

The top referring sites in 2013 were:

  1. Twitter
  2. Google+
  3. Facebook
  4. My Teaching Page
  5. Booles’ Rings

I would have expected Google+ to be the top referrer and I’m a bit surprised that Facebook made the list at all. I’m happy to see that being a part of Booles’ Rings (a network of academic home pages/blogs) is bringing some traffic this way and I hope that I’m reciprocating at least a little.

Visitors came from 114 different countries! Most visitors came from the United States, but Canada and the United Kingdom were not far behind.

The most commented on post in 2013 was Mathematics Education on the arXiv? with 26 comments. These were the 5 most active commenters on this blog:

  1. Dana Ernst, 26 Comments
  2. François G. Dorais, 7 Comments
  3. Bret Benesh, 4 Comments
  4. Simon H., 3 Comments
  5. Peter Krautzberger, 2 Comments

I guess it’s no surprise that I was the top commenter. It is worth pointing out that François and Peter are also members of Booles’ Rings.

Thanks for a fun year!

A couple of days ago, Peter Krautzberger sent me an email asking if I was interested in becoming an editor for Mathblogging.org. According to Mathblogging.org’s about page:

From research to recreational, from teaching to technology, from visual to virtual, hundreds of blogs and sites regularly write about mathematics in all its facets. For the longest time, there was no good way for readers to find the authors they enjoy and for authors to be found. We want to change that. We have collected over 700 blogs and other news sources in one place, and invite you to submit even more! Our goal is to be the best place to discover mathematical writing on the web.

Mathblogging.org is run by Samuel Coskey, Frederik von Heymann, and Peter. Felix Breuer also had a hand in the site’s creation. The current editors are Peter Honner, Fawn Nguyen, and Shecky Riemann.

Lately, I’ve been feeling stretched a bit thin, so I told Peter that I needed to think about it before deciding. I’ve been trying to be careful about the new projects I take on so that I don’t get in over my head. But…then I remembered the talk that Joe Gallian gave at the conclusion of my first Project NExT workshop in 2008. The theme of Joe’s talk (which he gives every year for Project NExT) is “just say yes.” His thesis is that by saying “yes” we open doors to new opportunities and by saying “no” we close ourselves off to what might have been. Okay, I’m sure Joe would admit that we shouldn’t say “yes” to everything, but I believe he would say that most of us say “no” too often.

I took Joe’s talk pretty seriously my first few years post PhD and I think it has worked out pretty darn well for me. There have been numerous times I thought that I should say “no” but followed Joe’s advice instead. Most of the time it has worked out for the best. A good example is when Ivars Peterson asked Angie Hodge and I to start blogging for the MAA. Actually, let me back up a notch. First, Nathan Carter suggested that I apply for the editor position at Math Horizons. I implemented Joe’s philosophy and talked Angie into applying with me as co-editors. Alas, we were not chosen and instead the committee selected the most awesome Dave Richeson. However, as a result of our application, Ivars approached Angie and I about starting up Math Ed Matters. Around this time, I was beginning a new position at Northern Arizona University and I was concerned that my tenure committee wouldn’t value this sort of work. I dragged my feet for a couple months, but eventually Joe’s voice in my head won out. Angie and I have only been blogging for a few months, but we certainly made the right decision. Lots of new opportunities have presented themselves as a result of the blog. I could go on and on about similar choices.

Okay, by now you’ve already guessed that I agreed to Peter’s offer. So, what does being an editor entail? I already keep up with quite a few math-related blogs, but now I just need to “star” the ones on mathblogging.org that I find the most interesting/enjoyable/useful/compelling and leave a brief comment about them. Doesn’t sound too bad. Of course, to be fair I should start reading a few more of the blogs that pass through.

Yesterday was my first day on the job and I already selected two recent blog posts for Editors’ Picks:

  1. Name 5 top journals you read… by Peter Krautzberger
  2. A Problem with Assessment by TJ Hitchman

I’m looking forward to reading more excellent blog posts and seeing if Joe is right again.

Dear College Instructors,

Matthew Leingang (NYU), Ron Taylor (Berry College), and I are interested in how college instructors utilize social media. In particular, we are curious how teachers interact with their current and past students on social networks like Facebook and Google+. How do you interact with your current and former students on social media? Do you have policies about this interaction? We have put together a short survey to gather some data regarding this often sensitive issue. The intent is to summarize the results in a short article that will likely be submitted to MAA FOCUS. We would be thrilled if you would take a few minutes to complete our short survey.

Thanks!

Dana, Matthew, & Ron

Stepping away from Twitter

December 20, 2012 — 2 Comments

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, yada, yada, yada. Each of these social networking sites has something to offer and I have accounts on most of them. However, I think it may be time to streamline. Increasingly, I feel pressed for time to do all the things that I need and want to do. There’s an endless amount of work-related stuff to do, but I also want to be a good father and husband. Moreover, if I don’t squeeze in time for exercise, I’m not very good at anything. I’m like a dog. If I don’t get in a walk, I might chew the furniture.

I currently have two accounts on Twitter: @danaernst and @IBLMath. Why two accounts? Most of my tweets are math-related, but not all of them. I created @IBLMath for two main reasons. First, I wanted to increase awareness of inquiry-based learning in mathematics. Second, I thought it was a good idea to have an account that was solely devoted to tweeting about math and teaching-related content. At the time of writing this post, I’ve tweeted 4,445 times from @danaernst, and according to How long have you been tweeting?, I made my first tweet on March 4, 2009. Twitter has been an amazing resource for me.

Then along came Google+, which launched in June of 2011. I don’t know the exact date that I joined, but it was within the first few weeks. I connected with quite a few academics early on and now I have a substantial network of people interested in mathematics, teaching, and technology. In fact, nearly all the people that I enjoy most on Twitter are also on G+. Since my network on G+ is so much larger than on Twitter, I often encounter content on G+ that I don’t see on Twitter, but I rarely see content on Twitter that doesn’t pop up on G+. Moreover, the interaction that happens on G+ is often much more substantial than what I’ve experienced on Twitter. I regularly cross-post content on Twitter and G+ and it’s not uncommon for one of my “popular” posts on G+ to see zero attention on Twitter.

I’ve been wondering for a while now whether maintaining my Twitter presence is worth my time. One of my weaknesses is that I’m not very good at doing things part-way. I’m an all or nothing kind of guy. As a result of this, I find myself feeling anxious when I’m not caught up on surfing Twitter, G+, Facebook, etc. posts. The reality is that I don’t have time to even come close to keeping up. The rate of new content is overwhelming. My first semester at NAU has been successful, but I need to find ways to be even more efficient and effective at work, family, and play. In this vein, I’m looking for ways to trim unnecessary things from my life. I don’t plan to give up social media, but I think that I can save myself actual time and certainly some mental and emotional bandwidth by walking away from Twitter.

I’ll treat this as an experiment and see how it goes after a few months. I don’t think that I’ll miss it. I will likely continue to advertise my blog posts (from this blog and my Elevation Gain blog) on Twitter and respond to @mentions.