Hello World

It’s alive! ALIIIVEE!!!! [Cackles manically as thunderclaps in the background] The Noteable service is alive, up and running, ready for action. Okay so actually it was technically alive last year as people just couldn’t wait that long but now it’s official. In brief, the Noteable service is a cloud-based service providing Jupyter notebooks. If you haven’t come across computational notebooks before then I’ve written a brief explainer Here. We are now into the pilot phase of this project, looking into the benefits (and cost) of providing a centrally supported cloud-based notebook service. Whilst Notebooks have implications for many different areas, we are specifically interested in the benefits within learning and teaching. I’ve copied in the scope section of the project draft so that you can get more of an idea of the main aims of this pilot.

  • To assess the pedagogic impact of using notebooks to introduce programming concepts.
  • To assess the desire and need for a centrally support notebooks service within the University of Edinburgh
  • To assess the use of Jupyter notebooks for creating OER materials
  • To assess the running cost of supplying this service within the University of Edinburgh
  • Work with EDiNA to develop a development plan for the Noteable service to incorporate service improvements and feature requests

Sounds easy enough right? Generally, as a learning technologist, you have your hand snapped off when you offer up a new service that people are interested in but the important work will be quantifying the impact offering this has and comparing it with what it costs the University to provide. There’s a small bonus part in here that I am particularly interested in, OERs, I think that notebooks make a great basis for OERs. They can be easily shared via Binder or nbviewer and they can be easily aligned with the 5 Rs. I’ll be trying to blog about this rather regularly, either working with Edinburgh academics to publish OERs or pointing out interesting existing resources.

Computational notebooks have been growing in use for a variety of uses in recent years, especially within HE institutions but this has created something of a quandary (or at least an opportunity). A lot of Jupyter notebooks use currently seems to be based around individual academics or small teams working to deliver their own material in their own way, there is little in the way of central support. This bit is where Noteable comes in, developed by EDINA, this is a centrally support service at the University of Edinburgh to provide notebooks. The idea is first to provide the service so that users have access to notebooks online, my part is to then make sure that users have the support they need to integrate these into their teaching. Alongside this, we want to create and promote a community of notebook users and publicise their uses to get more people involved. Some people will have come across notebooks before and are already using them in interesting ways but there are a lot more people who could start to use them if supported in the right way and that’s what I’m here for.

If you are a member of staff and are interested in using the service then get in touch. If you have stumbled in here from the wilds of the general internet then watch this space, I’ll keep you posted.