Innovative Learning Week : Day 1

Innovative Learning Week is the sixth week in the term, with no regular classes and over 180 events. It’s a chance to meet new people within the academic community and refresh the mind. It’s also a chance to get ahead on many assignments due in the following weeks as deadlines approach!  I didn’t want to fill up my schedule too much, even though there are fun courses like ‘build a bamboo house’ and ‘badger surveying’ so I’ve had to prioritise and coordinate.

I decided to schedule a very full Monday and hit up three different sessions. Early this morning, I was reconsidering my planning, but in hindsight Monday was great! It was very busy and I caught myself thinking, “Wouldn’t it be nice to always be in workshops – always getting small tastes of new ideas.” However, I know that this would be unsustainable for deeper learning and probably not very meaningful over the long run, so I must enjoy this one week of many hors d’oeuvres before I head back to my main entrée: the dissertation. But more on the dissertation later – for now, let’s start at the beginning.

My first session was an Introduction to Python hosted by a Specialist Computing Officer from the School of GeoSciences in the Drummond Street first floor lab. Python is a general purpose programming language that is useful in scientific computation and data visualization. To me this means pretty graphs and a forgiving language that won’t crash when I forget a comma. I had tried c++, matlab and html, so this language felt a bit familiar but even the first-timers seemed to be catching on quickly. By the end of the morning I had a beautiful sinusoidal graph and a library of code to make many more visual representations with future data. My take away : don’t build it if it’s already made!

I had thirty minutes before my next session so I enjoyed a potato & leek soup from the ECCI café and then walked down Holyrood Road to St Leonard’s Land. It was my first time visiting the Holyrood campus. Which is pretty odd considering it’s a two minute walk from the High School Yards campus but it does highlight how easily we work within our bubble and need opportunities like this week to break loose. I was there for the Mindfulness Taster Session which opened with the idea of, “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994). We learned a bit about focusing on body movements, seated meditation and mindful breathing/focusing while laying down. It was nice to have experts explaining these easy strategies that can be incorporated into our daily life. For me, this was another example of something I probably already knew was beneficial, but just never quite put aside the time to use! A good reminder and my main take away was that while relaxing, be mindful and not mindless. 

Found some peace and then booted it back up the hill (not as easy as the walk down) to Drummond Street for some speed dating. No, I wasn’t looking for a new fling, but for academic feedback on dissertation topics. This event was organized by fellow blogger and classmate Sara. She did a terrific job! There were sticky notes for sharing feedback, pencils, guiding questions and cheese. A lot of cheese. It was one of the few events I have attended where participants didn’t simply stick to their core classmates but instead branched out chatting to all sorts of people from different academic backgrounds – so refreshing! My take away: It’s good to share ideas because you never know who will point you towards an interesting article, a neat project or good cheese.

From Drummond Street I walked three minutes up to Potterrow to catch the Kings Building shuttle bus which is free for staff and students. It’s a 15 minute bus ride and quite convenient. I treated myself to a latte from the Noreen and Kenneth Murray Library café (which I got for free by using my cashless catering card!) and then met up with my marine policy group to work on an estuaries presentation. We had booked a study space using MyEd which is great because it has a large monitor and computer to share ideas easily, lots of sockets to charge laptops and comfy chairs. We made good progress compiling articles in Google Drive, recording ideas in a Facebook group and then set up a plan for the next meeting using Doodle.

Made it home in time to have supper and watch Jeopardy! A very full day, but a very innovative day with lots of learning 😉

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