In this post, Rory Shaw a fourth-year Mathematics student at the University of Edinburgh describes his experience of an internship with the Learn Foundations Project during lockdown and the community-building activities he took part in…
I’ll start off with a brief summary of what the internship entailed. During our first two weeks, we had our time split between a variety of induction events, training and departmental talks. This served as a wonderful introduction to the internship, and gave us a great sense of how our work fitted into the university as a whole. During this time, we were told the overall goals of the Learn Foundations Project – to improve the Learn experience for staff and student alike – as well as what we would be doing on a daily basis and how we would interact with the rest of the team.
The next 6 weeks or so we mainly spent working on migration. This was the process of transferring data from DRPS (Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study) to the 2020/21 courses that are using the new template. Although quite repetitive at times, this work was vital for the courses being ready in time for the next semester, and as such we were always motivated to perform this task efficiently and to a high standard.
The final few weeks were a lot more varied, with our workflow adapting to what the schools required from us. We performed some mapping tasks, where we transferred the structure of old courses to an Excel spreadsheet to help examine how their layout could be improved, and more recently fixed bugs in some tests on Learn within the school of Divinity. This was a nice change of pace and meant we never got tired of one particular thing.
Overall, I have had a great time working as an intern for the Learn Foundations team. I enjoyed the work itself, even if it was a bit repetitive at times, and loved getting to know the rest of the team better. I think we worked together really well, it was always going to be harder working remotely but I would say we more than rose to the challenge. The twice-weekly social hours were always great fun and offered a nice way to break up the day. Towards the end we maybe began to run out of ideas slightly and had played the same games a lot, we really needed to have a hunt in our own time for some new entertainment that would work well online. Admittedly it would have been a lot easier socialising in person, but again I think we did a good job at being creative and making everyone feel included.
Another highlight for me was being included in the occasional departmental meetings. Not only was it very interesting to hear about the decisions being made as they would directly affect us as students, but it also meant I felt very much a part of the team and really valued as a member of the department. One thing that perhaps I enjoyed less was the time spent on LinkedIn Learning. Although this was a great and valuable resource, it was hard to focus on courses for longer periods of time. However, I know that it was a great way to fill the gaps between work being assigned and I am grateful for the skills I have gotten out of it!
I will be sad to leave, I have had a thoroughly enjoyable time and I am really glad I was lucky enough to be picked! I was very impressed with the University’s commitment to our own personal development as well as just getting the work done and I am very grateful for the opportunities offered to me. I hope to stay in touch with as many people I worked with as possible!
Rory Shaw is a 21 year old student from Scotland. He is about to enter his fourth and penultimate year of a Mathematics degree.