So what to use? For the plotting, I saw there had been students who had made the ternary graph in Sigmaplot or MATLAB. That gave me an idea! I had used Sigmaplot at some previous employer; I hadn't noticed we had it here too. So I decided to write a how-to guide for doing the plot in that program. It was a bit of a wrestle as there is more to it than you may expect, but I got there. That would do as far as I was concerned; one method will do and I don't speak MATLAB.
But the Fisher's Alpha? That's a tricky one. Some students had found an online calculator. Works for me; it was put up by trustworthy-looking people, and it generated fine results. It was a bit opaque, though. I'd rather find some other way.
Then I gave a presentation about my PGCertHE experiences.I did mention my intention to change the Laugharne foraminifera assignment to something more modern. One of my colleagues, Yueng, was in the audience; she's very tech-savvy, and she suggested she could do all of that in Matlab. She said I should pop by one day and discuss.
It turned out that several other assignments of the same module already use MATLAB; by introducing it to this assignment we are elegantly aligning the lot! And it's a very useful language to speak; not only for the students, but also for me. It sounded good! And the module leader, Suzie, had a ready-made assignment for introduction to MATLAB. I started there; she was very clear in her instructions so before long I had some nice example graphs on my screen. A good start!
Me taking my first MATLAB steps, thanks to my colleague Suzie
Regarding the Ternary plot: there is a script for that. I just have to understand it. And then to adapt it to my own needs; I need several groups of data points in each their own colour, and then I need different symbols for average values. I'll be needing Yueng for that!
For the diversity index there was no ready-made script. We'd have to start from scratch! So we first had to break up the calculation in manageable bits and then code them. Easier said than done. I decided to see if I could do the calculation in excel. And after some puzzling I did it. And it's a tedious process; we wouldn't want to do this for many samples, but it proved I had nailed the process. Now we only have to explain this to a computer!
I have struggled with command-based software before, and I don't find it easy, but I know that when it starts yielding results it's very satisfying! I don't know what the students will think of it; just that the previous cohort requested it doesn't mean the next cohort will appreciate it. But at least I will have learned a very useful skill!