With interest-based social networks gradually picking up momentum, there’s one for science lovers too. If you like e-learning science and want to connect with science lovers over the globe, then ‘Function Space’ is the social network for you. Launched nine months ago as an education portal focused on math, physics and computer science, ‘Function Space’ has now evolved to a complete social learning network for science.
With the intention to bridge the gap between academic curriculum and skill based requirements of workplace, the network provides articles, video lectures, problem solving, discussions, and networking for academic as well as corporate research. Now this did sound interesting to me as all things science always do; I signed up to reconnect with my student life and to also check out the network.
Getting started on Function space
The home page welcomes you with a short video and text about what you can do on the network. You can begin with a ‘guest’ login. The email sign-up is a quick process and your profile is created within seconds, taking a picture from your Gravatar account. Once you’re in, you can edit your profile to add your age, bio, interests and your favourite equation.
Interestingly, I noticed a two decimal number below my profile (0.00) and wondered what it was. A tour using the ‘Get me started’ button in the ‘Discussions’ section, explained that the number is known as ‘Function Space Index or FSI’, and it measures your contribution to the community.
What you can do on Function Space?
You can participate in discussions, share information in groups and learn new things from articles, to begin with.
After signing in, you land up into the first section called ‘Discussions’ listing all the discussions on the site. You can filter by subject or by properties such as advanced, intermediate and beginner topics. Each discussion has a title, info bar and details like the topic level, posted by and date posted on. In addition, there is k-index, an index that measures the quality of a discussion using parameters like number of opinions and insightfuls (like comments and likes on other networks).
You can join ‘Groups‘ if you are interested in a particular subject, currently the network has groups for Cosmology, Quantum Mechanics, Algorithms, Machine Learning, Clojure and Aenigma. One can send a request to create a new group. You can post links, facts, events under sub-topics for each of the groups.
Learn provides a rich resource of articles, lectures, book reviews and solved articles.
The network offers an interesting feature called ‘Challenges’, these are what stimulate the scientifically inclined brain. Every day, the Function Space team posts a challenge under ‘Question of the Day’ and shares the answer later. The users with the right answers feature in the ‘Hall of Fame’.
Connecting with users
There are multiple ways to find like-minded profiles on the network. Whenever a profile on a discussion or a group interests you, you can click on the profile, know more about them in terms of discussions participated in, bio, FSI, etc. Then you can either ‘Follow’ them or send a message to them.
Additionally, you can find the top contributors in the community based on their FSI using ‘Stats’ tab.
Under ‘Peer Feed’, you can see the network activity of the users you have followed.
A network with a scientific touch
Science students, enthusiasts and academicians will surely love to be on a dedicated network like Function Space. Compared to being fragmented with science buffs using online discussion forums, groups, and Google Plus communities to keep themselves updated and connected, Function Space provides a complete one-stop destination for them.
The interface is simple, neat and easy to navigate. It does have scope for simplification though in terms of design, navigation, and presentation. Also, I’d prefer ‘Get me started’ button in the Discussions section to be more prominent.
Parameters like ‘FSI’ and ‘k-index’ add to the objective of the network – to create and reward an involved community of science contributors. Given the need for a social learning network in Math and science, Function Space will surely rock! Hopefully we see a mobile app in the near future for the mobile first world.