In summer 2003, I put my MSc in computing into part-time mode to take up a part-time job in e-learning in maths at the University of Nottingham. Since then, I have done various combinations of paid work and education, until I handed in my PhD this summer. Viva notwithstanding, I am now only working on one activity: I am a lecturer of mathematics.
This week, I started a full-time contract in this role. This means I am full-time on one activity for the first time since summer 2003. In recognition of this, I hope you won’t mind a little self-indulgence on my part. I have quickly mocked up the following image showing my part-time working life over recent years. Here’s hoping for a period of greater stability in full-time working.
I asked in the previous post for suggestions of iPad apps that I could use to help with my job as a university lecturer in mathematics. I asked specifically about annotating PDF files I had made using LaTeX and recording such activity. More generally, I asked what other apps might be useful to my job and for other uses I should be thinking about. People made suggestions via comments on that post, Twitter and Google+. Thanks to all who responded. Here is a summary of the recommendations I received.
New game, everyone! Work have bought me an iPad. I have so far discovered this is basically a touch screen interface through which I can write email, read Twitter and play pinball, but I’ve heard a rumour that it can do even more than that. I’d like you to suggest what else I might do with it.
I have discovered, or perhaps learned how to articulate, something fundamental: I like explaining things. Allow me to explain.
Yesterday, with my tongue certainly in cheek, I tweeted to the BBC Breaking News Twitter account that I had handed in my thesis, with a promise of a press release to follow. Taking the lead from my over-inflated sense of self importance, Christian Perfect posted this news to The Aperiodical News feed as ‘Breaking: Peter Rowlett has submitted his doctoral thesis‘.
Recently, in order to complete the submission paperwork, I went through my PhD files and stumbled upon my original enrolment confirmation. Before the brave new world of online enrolment and online fee payment, I had to go to an office and give money to receive a stamp on a piece of paper. The enrolment slip asks me to keep it safe, which apparently I did.
#TweetMyThesis is the latest in a line of similar initiatives asking you to condense your thesis into 140 characters. This time it was proposed by Times Higher Education on Twitter. I’m also aware of #TweetYourThesis, #tweetyrPhD, #TweetYourPhD and numerous individual conference versions. I’m unsure whether 2010’s #BUthesis is the first, but it might be.
My title remains ‘A Partially-automated Approach to the Assessment of Mathematics in Higher Education’. My deadline is less than three weeks away.
Readers of The Aperiodical may recall three excellent posts on the Maths of Star Trek by Jim ‘But Not As We Know It’ Grime. At the same time, Jim discussed the topic in glorious audio with Andy Holding and Will Thompson, hosts of the Science of Fiction podcast (worth listening to, but at least visit the page to see a picture of Jim nursing a tribble). As part of this, the hosts asked Jim what uniform colour mathematicians on the Enterprise would wear.
JIM: Science and medics, those are the blue shirts.
HOST: Where do mathematicians go? Scientists?
JIM: That’s right, yes, science.
HOST: You’re safe?
JIM: Yes, I am, I’m in the blue shirt category.
Jim is pleased to say that mathematicians wear blue because, as he explains, gold and red uniformed crew were much more likely to be killed during the famous five-year mission than those in blue. I’ve written in the past about maths and mathematicians being everywhere, for example when asserting that most of the Nobel prizes are for mathematics. Was Jim right about those blue-shirted mathematicians?