Thursday, March 19, 2020

Teaching From Home–Day 4

I have no idea how long or how consistently I will be writing these posts. I guess when I have something to say. In some ways I think of this as a sort of record of what I am doing for myself and maybe for people who will be going through this themselves.

My students are already wondering how long we will be continuing online. They miss their friends and the face to face contact. I don’t blame them. I doubt we’ll be back before May and even that seems iffy at best. So we continue on.

Today went as smoothly as I could have hoped for. My Programming Honors students have been great. The virtual machine they connect to has handled 21 Visual Studio uses at once brilliantly.  I was worried about that but our IT person has done an outstanding job of support us in this area. I don’t know what I would do without these virtual machines.

I used Zoom for the first time with my APCS Principles class. It worked pretty well. I was using technology to try to solve a people problem and that always has its challenges. Being able to mute students and not let them unmute themselves or mute me has, I’m sorry to say, been a necessary feature..

 Mike Zamansky has a great review of Zoom in his first day of teaching online blog post. It has a lot of good features that Google Meet does not. I feel like after a few more sessions I will have a wish list of what I want in an online classroom. Some of it Google Meet and Zoom already have. Some they don’t. Or I haven’t discovered. I’m doing a lot of just in time learning.

Basically for me Google Meet feels more light weight and easier to use than Zoom. Zoom has more features but is a little more complicated to use. I’ll probably spend some more time experimenting with both. Some schools are using Microsoft Teams and I really should try that out just to see if it has some features or ease of use that I don’t know I need.

This while experience has me thinking about teaching paradigms. I prefer desktop apps to cloud apps for the most part. Maybe because I am set in my ways. I think though that teachers have to give a lot more thought to teaching CS using cloud based development tools. Not strictly web based but hosted in the cloud.

Microsoft and Amazon have options. that look good to me. They are still mostly set up for professional developer organizations and, for education, university CS departments with good professional support. The first one to create an inexpensive (ideally free) cookbook solution that secondary school teachers or part-time IT support in schools can use is going to be a hero.

A cloud hosted solution will solve the problems of student having different kinds of computers at home, installation of software (license issues made easy), and open up learning and projects to expand beyond the computer lab. In my opinion as lot of the web based development/teaching tools are good but that we need to go to a next level of power and flexibility.


Garth said...

Do not quit these posts. We are on spring break right now so I am a week behind you. You are doing all the troubleshooting for me. A lot of the schools that are not on spring break here in Montana are learning the difference between Meet and Zoom. Meet is a pretty lightweight app while Zoom is robust. Meet can get cranky and die.

Maybe you can sign up for this Teams webinar

SHI is providing a FREE Microsoft Teams training in order to help any educators who are unfamiliar with it. Feel free to share this with any faculty or staff members who may find this useful!

There are 6 total one hour sessions to sign up for. Here is the link to the LinkedIn post:

Mr. Coxall said...

For Cloud solution in CS I have used and AWS Educate. Both work great, even on Chromebooks.