JD structure in a teaching scenario


Hoping for some advice on whether my JD structure so far makes sense.

I have create three areas so far; 100–200 Personal, 200–209 Area1Projects, 210–219 Area2Projects and 300–310 Teaching.

And then I have 211 Area2Project1 within which I have:

  • 10 Administration
  • 11 Interviews

Within 201 Area1Project1, I have:

  • 10 Administration
  • 11 Minutes

I specifically have two quesions:

  • Would you say this is a reasonable starting structure?
  • How do you deal with versioning? Like for my teaching I will teach the same course in different years. How do you organise that?

Many thanks.

Hi! Good to have you with us.

It looks like you’ve missed a level, did you mean to do that? From what I can tell you’ve got 3-digit projects at the top then you jump straight down to categories.

100-200 Personal // I’d make this 100-199

200-209 Area1 Projects
 201 Area1 Project 1
  ?? // You’re missing an area here (10-19...)
     10 Administration
     11 Minutes

210-219 Area2 Projects
 211 Area2 Project 1 // This is a project
  ?? // You’re missing an area here (10-19...)
     10 Administration
     11 Interviews

300-310 Teaching

I’d maybe need to see a bit more detail to flesh this one out? But you’re on the right track.

Versioning’s an interesting question. It will depend on what you’re keeping. You say you’re teaching a different course — so are you just keeping the course notes there, or are you also storing student details, schedules, scores, etc.? How much you’re storing will affect how we structure it and that will affect how I think about versioning.

I’m watching this with interest, because I will have a similar issue when I get to my teaching projects. I’ve never known how to handle this, particularly for my tutorial groups. On the one hand, there’s a set of documents which is more or less relevant every year to do with general admin of the tutorial system. On the other hand, every year I have a new cohort of tutees who each submit essays, have marks, references I write for them, etc…

Each year I teach them, the material associated with them differs (i.e. when they are in their first, then second, then third year of study), but some core documents stay the same and remain relevant. After 3 or 4 years, they flow out of the system when they graduate, and every year I get a new group in the system. I keep the graduated students’ information around for a bit as I often continue writing references for them for a few years.

Any ideas about how best to handle this would be very welcome! I’m using the PRO.AC.ID structure too, with each ‘hundred’ covering one broad area of responsibility (e.g. 300s for research, 400s for PhD students, 500s for Teaching, 600s for citizenship etc…)

1 Like

This is exactly why I wanted this forum to exist. :slight_smile:

Let’s figure this one out properly and then I’ll write it up. I have to go to work now but fill this thread with information, more requirements, what you need, different scenarios, as much as you can think of. Then we’ll work it out together.

I do have another level I haven’t shown here. For example, under 201.10 I’ve got 201.10.01 Interviews . Is that what you meant?

My teaching situation is very similar to, though not exactly the same as @bsag’s. Within each course I have teaching materials such as slides, practical specifications etc. These do not change significantly year on year unless I do a significant overhaul of the course. These do not normally need to be versioned but I guess it would be good to have the option if required.

I do, however, have student submissions, mark etc for each year that need to be versioned.

Any other questions?

Great! I’ll see if I can define more clearly what I want to be able to do.

I’ve thought about what I would ideally like to achieve in terms of organisation of teaching materials.

  • Be able to keep a student or intake-cohort centred structure, but be able to understand what other materials are relevant to them at any one point in the context of their year of study.
  • Keep material which is is more broadly relevant from year to year separately (e.g. general admin info, plans for sessions, resources they can access, etc.). This material may apply to all students, or be specific to students currently in a particular year of study. It also may change from year to year (e.g. the dates/times of tutorial for 1st years change each year). In some cases, it is useful to keep a record for previous years in case students need to resit years/exams and we need to know what training/lecture material they received.

Currently, (i.e. pre-JD), my structure for tutorials looks something like this:

Tutorials /
	Admin / # general stuff relevant across years
	Year 1 resources / # student resources, tutorial plans specific to students in Y1 of study
	Year 2 resources / # ditto for Y2
	Year 3 resources /
	Year 4 resources /
	2019 intake / # student-centred: all students entering in Oct 2019
		Student A / # assessments to comment on, correspondence, reference letters etc.
		Student B / # ditto

The problem is trying to link the YearN resources to the student centred resources. Plus, (small problem, I know but my mental arithmetic is terrible!), if I’m looking for Student A’s folder, I know they are currently in Year 3 but I have to mentally calculate which ‘intake’ year they are in by counting back. It’s just a bit of extra mental friction.

Organising material relating to modules of teaching is usually a bit simpler, and something like this:

Teaching /
	Module XXX /
		General resources / # stuff that applies every year
		Course creation documents / # official forms and docs relating to module set up
		2019-2020 / # material taught last academic year
			Module admin / # study guides, course descriptions, timetables etc.
			Lecture 1 / # finished presentation file, notes, reading lists, assets etc. 
						# also notes on improvements for next year.
			Lecture 2 / ...
			Practical 1 / ... etc...
			Assessments / # material relating to assessments across module
			Annual review / # module assessment forms, feedback, annual 
							# review forms, changes to be made for next academic year.
		2020-2021 / # same structure

This looks like (and is!) a lot of repetition, but every year at exam time we get requests from the teaching admin team to know if a particular set of exam questions is suitable for a repeating student who took the module in 2017 (or whatever). So I need to be able to go back in and see exactly what they were taught and assessed on in that academic year. I do now tend to write my presentations in org-mode and Beamer and version control the source files in git, tagging with the year, so I can easily check out what was taught in a particular year, use diff to find out what I changed, but not all material can be treated like this.

I hope that clarifies what kind of material I’m dealing with and what I need to be able to do with it. Thanks for any advice you can provide!

Hi @bsag,

With your emphasis on cross-linking, I would be very interested to see if JD can come up with a suitable system, since IMHO JD isn’t exactly designed to allow arbitrary cross-linking.

Have you looked into something like Obsidian? I’ve seen people combine it’s strong cross-linking capabilities with JD to achieve powerful results.

Amazing, thanks. This one will need to wait for the weekend, sorry.

@ks84 That’s a good idea. I have looked at Obsidian (to create a knowledgebase of papers I’ve read, concepts etc.), and while I liked it, I ended up using org-roam in Emacs instead - it’s a very similar concept.

So I could potentially use links within that as a kind of network link map for these areas. I’ll have a think - thanks for the idea!

I think the teaching areas are the only ones which are tricky to fit into a JD-like system. My other work stuff will fit in fine.

No hurry! Thanks for thinking about it.

I’d like to add a requirement here. One of the reasons I decided to opt for the PRO.AC.ID format is that I have a reasonably high turnover with my projects, which can last anywhere from 6 months to a few years. Meaning that I will have far more than 10 projects pretty quickly.

So my question is what are your thoughts on “recycling” numbers?

Don’t. This is precisely the reason why I came up with the PRO.AC.ID format.

You might find that many of your projects don’t have many areas & categories. That’s fine.

Alternatively, if you do have lots of small projects that would fit in an area, you could do something like:

100 Projects for 2021
    10-19 Project ABC
    20-29 Project Sentinel
    30-39 ... and so on
101 Projects for 2022
    10-19 ... you get the idea

But I don’t think I like this, now you have to remember which year a thing happened in. With the thousand projects afforded you by PRO.AC.ID you’d have to create a new project every week for 20 years to run out of numbers.

Edit: …and even after 20 years there’d be nothing stopping you using a 4-digit PRO number.

1 Like

As a teacher, this doesn’t seem like a big drawback to me, as I tend to mentally categorize courses and projects based on the specific semester/term in which they occurred. I often currently waffle between organizing teaching folders (course)/(semesters it was taught) vs (semester)/(courses taught that term).

So in this organisation are you suggesting that within each project I just have categories and not separate areas as the projects themselves are areas?

No, just go with the standard PRO.AC.ID structure.

@ks84 @johnnydecimal — If comfortable using years in the file and, perhaps for this special use case, an exception can be made that instead of the top level being project numbers ranging from 100-999, instead it can be year number (if this is how you prefer to remember it, ks84). For example,


What do y’all think?

Yeah this would work.

To keep my inner neat-freak happy I might combine the year number with my standard PRO.AC.ID structure. So I’d choose 300-399 or whatever as the range of projects, then go:

// just ignore 300-320
321 2021
    321.AC.ID // full structure here
322 2022
    // and so on

That feels nice to me.

1 Like