Beth Hundey

Musings and professional dossier of an educator, geographer, and educational developer

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Western Senior Alumni Series Lecture


On Nov 2, 2018, I presented “Environmental Change in Distant Mountain Lakes” in front of an audience of 600 members of the Western University Senior Alumni Association.

Make a quicker, cheaper Ghostbusters proton pack

These proton packs cost $45 each, a little more if you don’t have many craft supplies. Some of the items below I didn’t need to buy twice (in case you are double checking my math).

Other than shopping, these took me one day to make (all day).

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How I used simple and deep course site design to improve my face-to-face course

I’m an eLearning specialist, so part of my job is to provide advice and workshops on improving online learning.  We often refer to “How Course Web Design Impacts Student Engagement” by Dian Schaufhausser and the infographic that inspired the article during these consults and workshops.  The article is a summary of a study of hundreds of courses using a particular Learning Management System (Canvas).  Although I often use this as reference material for online course design consults, it should also apply for course sites supporting face-to-face classes.  So, when teaching a medium sized first year course this year, I decided to apply my own medicine and try to create a simple and deep design to my course site.  From the article:

A simple, deep design might lay out the course directly on the home page with a lot of different activities organized to give the student a clear indication about how to move through them. A given week’s lessons page might include hyperlinks to each activity the student is supposed to do, and there’s no question about what comes next.

So, I divided my course up by themes (usually one per week), and set out with a template for each unit tab seen below in cartoon fashion:

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Rethinking Access: Issues, Challenges, & Creative Approaches

A stonemason, a student, a superintendent, a dean, a pre-school director, a faculty member, a not-for-profit executive director, and a data scientist walk into a hotel.  They’ve come together to  share their ideas about access to education at “Rethinking Access: When Non-Traditional is the New Normal” a conference put on by HEQCO (Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario).  Most sessions were set up as panels surrounding a given topic about access – each panel was ripe with ideas and well-articulated challenges. Given the breadth and depth of issues around access, each panel could really only scratch the surface of the research and on-the-ground work being done.  Even so, I gained an appreciation for the systemic issues around access to education and some of the creative solutions for improving access from a variety of perspectives.

My big questions

I took the early train from London and arrived at the Delta Chelsea with my shirt on inside out and a lot of big questions: Who is accessing post-secondary education, and who is not? What are the barriers to accessing post-secondary education? What can and is being done about differences in educational access?

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A week as the host of the rocur account @iamscicomm

For a week in late March, I guest-hosted the rocur (rotation curation) account @iamscicomm.  My initial motivation for hosting the account was to disseminate recent research on science communication and graduate training. Hosting this account would allow me to have a greater reach than the reach of my and my colleagues twitter followers. My hope was that by engaging with a community that’s already excited about #scicomm, I could move past sharing our work into engaging in a dialogue.  I’m so pleased that our work was discussed with such excitement and that it was shared over 75 times during the week.

Amanda Freise started the week by introducing me to @iamscicomm followers.

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For real though, develop a science communication strategy

My colleagues and I recently argued that scientists-in-training would benefit from developing an individual science communication strategy.   We’re not the first to suggest this, and we recommend reading Practical science communication strategies for graduate students (Kuehne & colleagues, 2014) and Considerations for effective science communication (Cooke & colleagues, 2017) to help early-career and in-training scientists start to
create such a strategy.  But I’m feeling like it needs to be said again: scientists would benefit from developing an individual science communication strategy.

I’m a little troubled by workshops and resources that teach scientists how to do #scicomm (that is, web 2.0, social media heavy science communication) without any consideration or even a brief mention as to whether this is a fitting strategy. By jumping immediately to how to build a personal brand, choose a hashtag, and decide how often to post on 7 different social media platforms,  the assumption is made that developing your own social media brand is the best strategy.

Building a lively and energized following on multiple platforms is an effective strategy for many scientists, and it may also be a valuable strategy for you.  But, have you given enough attention to other possible modes of science communication that may be a better fit with your goals, available energy, and personal strengths?

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My biggest little science writing tip: Customize your autocorrect

If you do any kind of science writing and you use Microsoft Word, you likely find yourself repeatedly formatting for subscripts, greek characters, and math symbols.

Until Microsoft Word has AI learning capabilities, autocorrect can take you one step closer to uninterrupted writing flow. It takes a few minutes to set up, but then you can forget about formatting, special character maps, alt codes, subscript and superscript shortcuts.  If you’re anything like me and you can’t move on with CO2 looking like that, this tip is for you.

I can’t overstate how much time this saved me. In addition to reducing time formatting, it reduces the need to stop mid-sentence and break precious writing flow.

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Reflections on an in-class research conference

Learning outcomes are aligned with assessments which in turn are aligned with Teaching and Learning Activities

By the end of my 3rd year environmental change course, students are expected to demonstrate that they can orally communicate environmental change research to specialist and non-specialist audiences. To assess this learning outcome, students deliver research presentations at a mini-conference that they organize themselves. I have been so pleased with the presentations themselves and at the opportunity for community building that I thought it was worth sharing the experience.

My assessment planning (simplified below) is guided by principles of constructive alignment to ensure that students learn the skills they need to succeed at demonstrating their achievement of the outcome.

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Remote alpine lakes affected by nitrogen from agriculture transported across vast distances in the atmosphere

A succinct summary of the recent interdisciplinary efforts of the LARS Research Facility and Laboratory for Stable Isotope Science at Western University.

Social media solutions

On July 6, 2015, attendees at the Future Professor Series session (Western University) brainstormed responses to potential social media scenarios. Read on for summaries of the ideas that participants brainstormed in response to the scenarios.

Scenario 1: The revamped lab
The instructor for the first year course you TA has noticed that her students seem to be bored and creatively unchallenged with her standard (and slightly repetitive) weekly laboratory assignments. Design a new, creative assessment, incorporating social media, to replace the lab surrounding next week’s topic, the skeletal muscle system.

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