We finally got this class going, after a couple delays. And when I say “we” understand I’m just the student. With the preparation work done, it was time to wait for the school doors to open. Right away, differences between physical and virtual classes jumped out. I’ve used the Adobe connect tool many times before, meaning the general mechanics were understood. But the instructor had us clicking in to verify many questions that would have been a show of hands, and needed two monitors to keep the slides going as well as viewing the social interaction.
Here’s one of the early questions:
“How many SAP Virtual Classes Have You Attended” – all but one were first timers; the eighth student didn’t click in right away.
I used the introduction period to forward a link to my SCN wiki profile page, as that contains answers to a few questions. As it turns out, I know one student from previous ASUG conferences and forums.
After those preliminaries and backgrounds were out of the way, we took a look at our test/training systems, connecting not via Adobe, but via remote desktops. The basic tool looks like this (should be familiar to many):
With the right login data and system specs, all eight of us were connected in short order. I was beginning to think of us like a Gilligan’s Island crew of castaways – thrown together for a few short episodes. In real life, we’re spread out from Finland through the West Coast of the U.S., meaning someone is up until midnight perhaps, and someone else is starting around 6:30 AM.
The answer to the poll question – “who printed out the course book” only received two affirmatives. I tried to print mine onto “booklet” format, meaning one-half or one-fourth of the normal page count. I hit a few printer snags, so it took me longer than I expected. The instructor suggested the exercises would be a good minimum baseline for hard copy work sheets.
So what did we cover on Day One? Besides the usual background introductory level-st kind of talk, we drilled into Change Reporting. Not the kind of changes that go with Charm (or change management processes), but the kind of “delta” reporting that many of us have cobbled together over time.
The instructor (Jose) went through many examples in the demo system, which always makes it look easy. That’s better than showing slides, by a long shot, and confirms that we should be able to get the same results, since we are all using the same system. These days it is hard to tell when the virtual systems collide, unless we all try something very ambitious simultaneously. With but 8 of us, and having different learning speeds, not a likely problem.
Below are a few of my screen shots – not the actual course questions, but explorations I made while trying to follow the demos being done.
MSSQL_PARAMETER database configuration views
Parameter comparisons (“OtherUsers”) in this case.
Conclusions, recommendations, etc.
I’m not going to comment on the course content, or the pace of the class; these are best directed through the normal SAP Education feedback channels. But I’ll say a few peripheral comments that occurred to me during the course of the day (ha).
The instructor needs to keep a solid pace going, which is harder to gauge virtually than it would be physically. When you can see people check their email, you know their interest is flagging. Without frequent polls and online chat feedback, that’s going to cause virtual drift. Anyone who has been in classes with me knows I ask a lot of questions, some directly on target with the material, others maybe somewhat tangential. But without a check and balance to the real world, the class exercises are a total waste of time.
From the checks that made, our Solution Manager systems are nearly the same as the classroom lab systems. That surprised me, as many times I’ve been to classes where the very latest upgrades have been rolled out, meaning new functions I learn might not be applicable for a long time. However, I didn’t get the same answers on Change Reporting, indicating we’ve missed an underlying step in installation or configuration. And that’s always a new challenge, since this is “just one more thing” that the system teams need to get right before the data can be trusted. I’ll look for the SAP Notes… Not holding my breath.
The last area is touchy for many of my SAP Mentor colleagues, not to mention the entire underworld of certification and testing. There is always an emphasis on later courses, exams and what I consider “non-value-added” content in courses like this. I just want to get my hands on the system, try things out, and get explanations why it doesn’t do what I want, or why my system doesn’t act like the ideal training landscape. I could care less about passing a test. I know what I’m going to do with this knowledge; adding the course number to my annual review is a bookkeeping exercise (at the most).
The history (or so) of Solution Manager blogs (by me):
- Virtual Learning Center Education Preparation, Part 2 (Not just one install needed)
- School is Back in Session, After a Summer Break. End To End, Here I Come?
- Solution Manager chatter – SolBros Episode 3
- Return to Central Performance History, Even Shorter Hiatus
- After a Short Hiatus, a Return to Central Performance History
- Back On Course with SAP Education, Virtually. No Really — Join Me!
- The Second Episode Podcast of Some Solution Manager Chatter
- SAP Virtual Training Class turns into Physical Vacation
- Solution Manager – more work, less return
- Solution Manager – A Necessary Evil?
The question is: how to bring in a virtual apple for the teacher?