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Month: February 2020 Page 1 of 2

Community Memory

Group Working in Online Learning

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Group Work: Video Reflections

Students will find a way to do group work, even online across time zones. They will be designing their own digital creations, organising via email, Skype, and similar applications, screen sharing and sharing films.

Assessments should be designed as much as possible so that they can align with what all the students are doing in their different contexts.

Group work raises the fears of letting the group down, and taking a lot of time. It’s important to set expectations of what is due and when.

If new technology is required, it’s very important to provide good guidance and not assume that all the students will have the required technical skills.

Yerkes–Dodson curve for a difficult task

Google: What can you do when you’re dreading a big project at work?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Can’t bring yourself to tackle a big project?

That also looks simultaneously deadly boring and nightmarishly terrible?

(ahem, involves SharePoint, obvs)

The Stink Spirit or Polluted River God gets a bath in Spirited Away

If SharePoint was having a bath it would be like this

To recap my previous posts on this, I am starting work on a big project to tidy up the filing system on a big shared network drive that has been used by many different people in different ways over many years. As well as sorting out the files themselves, the filing procedures used by the office staff will also have to be rationalised, standardised and brought in line with data protection regulations, using metadata, SharePoint, possibly PowerApps, and Flows, which are the new version of SharePoint Workflows. And the office staff will hate that.

For those who have managed to avoid it, SharePoint is what happened when Microsoft sent their Trainspotting and Alphabetisation Club to learn bureaucracy from every big organisation in the world. I fully expect someone from Microsoft to land in my comments someday and say that’s true.

Community word cloud from the online education course

Community Word Cloud

Reading Time: < 1 minute

I’m quite enjoying these word cloud generators they use on the course.

Here’s the word cloud my cohort in ‘The Edinburgh Model for Online Education’ course came up with for Community:

Community word cloud from the online education course

Community, as seen by students of The Edinburgh Model for Online Education

Graphic: Social Media, Internet, Communication, Community

Creating Community Online: Group Project Review

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Well this is ironic. No one else from my group is anywhere to be seen, and the task is this:

In this activity you are going to be working in groups to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities around the size and scale of learning communities, particularly online. In your group discussion area, share a positive and/or a negative example of your experience of being part of an online community (informal or formal). What were the key things that made or make the experience positive or negative? Provide a short overview of your personal experience in your group discussion area. Once you have all posted your entries then, as a group create a list of your:

  • three essentials considerations for positive community building
  • three things to avoid or mitigate when trying to build and sustain a community
Radiohead: No surprises

Unix file counting challenge, Part 3: Counting with Shell Scripts

Reading Time: 7 minutes

This post follows on from Unix file counting challenge, Part 2, which in itself follows on from Part 1. No surprises there.

Post Summary

These are the steps I’ve been taking in developing a short Unix shell script to count a lot of files and directories by type.

Scarlett O'Hara: "After all, Tomorrow is another day!", Gone With the Wind, via

Unix file counting challenge, Part 2: Tracking down the errors

Reading Time: 9 minutes


I’ve got a project coming up that will involve some major tidying up of a big shared network drive that has been used in different ways by many different people over many years.

One of the first steps is to find out what kind of files are on the network drive, how many of them there are, whether they’re still being used, and where they are stored in the directory structure.

I use a Windows laptop at work, which has a VPN connection to the University’s network and a MacBook at home, which doesn’t (yet). I’ve also been attending a training course in Unix skills, which seem like they could usefully be applied to this problem, and I’ve been really enjoying finding out more about this.

So that’s the combination of things going on.

This post is continued from Part 1, which is:

Can I turn a massive bureaucratic, er, challenge into a fun Unix challenge?

Counts with text fragments

Can I turn a massive bureaucratic, er, challenge into a fun Unix challenge?

Reading Time: 12 minutes


I have been given an enormous number of files of different types, in many jumbled up directories and subdirectories on a network drive, to count. That ought to be a job for the Unix commands and shell scripting I’ve been learning at Software Carpentry over the last couple of weeks, right?

My initial thoughts were that this could be done with either the command line, probably involving ls, sort, regular expressions with uniq and counting options or a shell script looping through a file listing with some combination of those.

Time to fire up Git Bash, my trusty Unix terminal for Windows…

Professional Learning Communities in Second Life

Thoughts on Online Community

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Image: Professional Learning Communities in Second Life

Thoughts on Online Community – Reflections on the Video below

Which of these approaches are appropriate to my discipline?
Which would force a redesign of my current teaching practices?

Whatever my thoughts on this, we are all about to find out the answers!

Photo of my CodeClan cohort on graduation day

The 3 ‘C’s: Community, Campus and Cohort

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Good memories of my own learning community: Photo of my CodeClan cohort on graduation day!

Community is about human interaction and participation. The overall design of any module or programme should relate to the three key interlinking areas of community, campus and cohort.

There are lots of overlapping, interrelated issues in teaching and learning, as with most human interactions.


We are relating the three ‘C’s to Leve and Wegner’s (1991, 1998) notions of community of practice and learning as primarily being about social participation. They proposed that for any community of practice there needs to be:

  • a domain: a domain of knowledge creates common ground, inspires members to participate, guides their learning and gives meaning to their actions. I thought this meant their academic subject area but it’s not: it is the campus, ie the digital and physical spaces the university provides for staff and students which provide for a commonality of experience
  • a community: A strong community fosters interactions and encourages a willingness to share ideas. We should be creating a sense of belonging to the University of Edinburgh community with its values, structures, history and culture
  • practice: the practice is the specific focus around which the community develops, shares and maintains its core of knowledge. The students should be able to identify with the community around their particular cohort, through engaging in practice activities together. The students and teachers all need to be able to get to know each other to form this community

The interactive model can be accessed as a diagram with notes here:

Community, Campus and Cohort

Screenshot from Teams

Group Project: Identifying a Communication Channel

Reading Time: 2 minutes

You have been put into pre-determined groups. Throughout this module you will only interact with those group members in the discussion forums and to complete this task. You can use the discussion forum below to introduce yourself and begin the task. You are then encouraged to identify a communication channel that suits your group and will allow you all to contribute toward that task. This might mean setting up your own group Microsoft Teams, Slack, Skype or email. The choice is yours!

Sadly, my group never got off the ground, but I did do this activity of looking into communication channels, which meant that at least I got to find out more about Microsoft Teams. So this was my contribution:

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