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Month: February 2020

Group Project: Developing engagement with community, campus, and cohorts

Reading Time: 3 minutes

(notes – I wish something had come of this, but no one else in my group joined in! I have kept the notes in case I get a chance to give it some more thought later – erhaps when my boss gets to this point in the course).

The Brief:


Encouraging the development of community online generally involves some group dynamic. These could be groups that temporarily assemble around a particular learning activity and then disassemble, peer support networks, study groups, larger class and course networks, social networks, and more. How you foster this group dynamic in your course is up to you, but it is important to see it from the student perspective.

It wasn't the lack of information...

Video Discussion: Thoughts on Campus and Community

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Consider how ideas of community, particularly in higher education, are fueled by a shared set of values. Do these particular values of empathy, wonder, and openness resonate with your communities? With your discipline? With your teaching practices?

Thinking through the communities I identified in my previous post, I think I share the most values with my GITS (GeoSciences IT Services) teammates, and that is probably not that surprising and a good thing for the team, in that we get along together. I like my GITS teammates and consider myself very lucky to share a daily coffee break with them, where they often demonstrate their values of empathy, wonder and openness in generally putting the world to rights.

With the other groups I am part of at work (thinking especially of my office mates, cake club and jogging group (I know, I’m going to have to quit one of those!), I think there is also a shared empathy and general interest in things going well at work.

In the School of GeoSciences, I think the people I have met show a lot of scientific curiosity and inventiveness, openness, and a much higher than average interest in environmental issues, as you would expect.

The later parts of the video, where people are talking about the importance of teaching curiosity and empathy, also reminded me of this meme that I have seen on social media a few times lately:

Photo: School Boards need to do better with their learning communities

Beginning Module 3: Engaged Learning Communities

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Better work on that then…

This module will be about the roles of community in learning. The successful development of learning communities plays a significant role in student engagement and overall success. We need to consider how to develop and foster that sense of community as a key part of the educational design process. Given the distributed nature of online education, we will need to adapt to providing new opportunities for interaction and development of online learning communities.

The Community of Inquiry

The Community of Inquiry framework describes a learning process in which individuals collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding of a subject.

The learning experience is created through the development of three interdependent elements, which are social, cognitive and teaching presence.

Most relevant to the current topic of learning communities is social presence, which is “the ability of participants to identify with the community (e.g., course of study), communicate purposefully in a trusting environment, and develop inter-personal relationships by way of projecting their individual personalities.” (Garrison, 2009)

The Community of Inquiry. Image Credit: Rawia Inaim. Adapted from:, via KPU: Learning to Learn Online. Licence: CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike)

Here are some of the communities I am part of at the University:

  • School of GeoSciences (especially today as I notice I have just been assigned to a group activity with the Head of School…)
  • Professional Services within GeoSciences (also more aware of that today as we had our Professional Services Away Day yesterday)
  • GeoSciences IT Services (the GITS) – my team, who I share a coffee break with most days, and really enjoy their conversation and general putting of the world to rights
  • Student Services. I have e-Learning meetings with some of this team, and also share an office with some of them
  • Marketing – I’m not in their team but I share an office with some of them too and enjoy their company
  • The people in my office (though I think I’ve mentioned them all already
  • College of Science and Engineering, which includes GeoSciences. I share a building, bathroom and kitchen with the people that work for the College as a whole but I don’t really know them.
  • King’s Buildings campus. I’ve enjoyed going to the occasional event here and try to make the most I can out of my gym membership here, though it’s not usually as often as I should go!
  • The University as a whole – by far the biggest organisation I’ve ever worked for.
  • My Software Carpentry class – a mixed group of staff and students who attend a computer programming course on Tuesday mornings at the moment
  • And as of recently, my online classmates in this course, who I haven’t met at all, apart from the head of GeoSciences, apparently, who occasionally borrows the desk next to me!


The Schlumberger configuration

Geophysics blogging means Equations!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Following on from my previous post, ‘Geophysics blogging means new HTML entities!’, I discovered the maths was getting yet more complicated, with the need to represent equations like this:

Really complicated equation

Really complicated equation 😬

Ideally, I didn’t want to use images, for accessibility reasons, unless I could provide a meaningful alt tag, which takes me back to the original problem of representing the equation in text, but with less useful characters. Here’s a page with a lot of equations as an example: I’ve made a lot of progress using HTML entities, but they can only get me so far.

Maxwell's Equations, which show how electricity and magnetism are related, on a T-shirt.

Geophysics blogging means new HTML entities!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I’ve been working on moving a couple of Geophysics courses over to WordPress blogs recently, and the latest one includes a lot of mathematical equations.

The previous version of the course was displaying these as images without any titles or alt tags, so I thought I would improve on their accessibility by using HTML entities, several of which were new to me, and it has been an interesting journey!

Cat sitting in front of a fan heater

Central Heating and Cat Videos

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Our boiler broke down last week. Thinking about it, it’s probably winter when most people’s boilers break down, because that’s when they’d be getting more use. But my goodness, it’s also when you appreciate it being fixed the most!

In the meantime, I’ve been very lucky to be lent a heater by one of my GITS teammates, which has been greatly enjoyed by all the family, and especially our cat Spot*:

Spot enjoying the heater. Thanks Shane!

A Slightly Unnerving Javascript Video

Reading Time: < 1 minute

I’ve enjoyed using FreeCodeCamp’s training resources before, so I was enthusiastic about giving this JavaScript tutorial a go. After about a minute, I was starting to wonder, “Is he really going to stand there talking about JavaScript for 3 hours, standing next to an RV in the snow?” But no, he gets in and leaves the little boy out there…

Learn JavaScript – Full Course for Beginners –

I’m going to have to watch this later…

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