Week 6: Teaching from within The Matrix
Sorry for the delay on my week 6 blog. The reason? Some call it writer’s block, but in my case it was busy at work, busy at home, important family business, holiday’s and a new SAP HANA revision that I had to test.
It could be that you never heard from VLC before, so I will explain what it is. In a Virtual Live Class room there is no real classroom. The trainer and the participants meet via the modern technologies Internet and Conference Call.
The screens a shared using SAP customized Adobe Connect Pro meeting room. In this meeting root I, as a trainer, share the course presentation and my screen for SAP HANA demo’s. The participants see my screen. For audio we use an conference call setup for this class.
So how does this all then look like in the real world? As a VLC trainer you need some special setup. Below a picture taken from my setup. This is not a mandatory setup, but it works for me.
The monitor in the middle is the screen I share with my participants. On this screen they see the course sideshow and the system demos. The laptop on the left is my classroom control center. On this screen I see the status and questions from my participants. I can also chat with my participants and ask them poll questions. It is a very useful screen, because the interaction between trainer and students is done via this screen. The last screen on the right is my “Participants View” screen. On this laptop I dial-in on the classroom session as a participant and see what the students see.
Another piece of equipment that a VLC trainer can’t live without is PaperShow. With this tool I can draw images like on a whiteboard and share these drawings with my participants. In my setup picture the PaperShow is hiding below the keyboard. Below a picture taken during a drawing session.
During the HA200 class we have some difficult exercises. Normally I would walk around the classroom and help the participants if they struggle with an exercise. In the VLC setup this is not possible, so I asked my participants to call me if they had difficulties with an exercise. I would then request an screen share from this participant to see what the problem is. This screen share worked well, but it takes more time and discipline from all the participants. I can’t help two people at the same time.
Not only needs the VLC instructor a good setup. The VLC participant also needs some special setup. Here is a setup used by Petra. She send me a picture from here VLC setup that she used during the HA200 class.
As you can see Petra also used two laptops. On the left is the VLC classroom and the laptop on the right is for reading textbook and doing the exercises. Again this is not mandatory, but without it more difficult.
The first day in the HA200 is the most difficult one as we do installations and work with an ssh shell to connect to the SAP HANA servers. Lucky me the participants were very disciplined so the all got their SAP HANA systems up and running. They also were very patient with me as I can only handle one screen share at once.
The rest of the week went smooth. On Thursday we had some difficulties with the VLC session being dropped a few times. On such a moment you realize how dependent you are on technology during a VLC class.
Because of the VLC we couldn’t make a group picture, so I asked my participants to send me a selfie, so that I could make a collage. They all send me a selfie so here is the group picture from the VLC class.
It was nice meeting you all in this virtual environment. Hopefully, in the future, we meet in real life as well. You were a good team!
Last but not least I want to give an VLC Pros and Cons list, as this is a other way of teaching.
- No travel time. I worked from home that week, so that saved me 1.5 hours travel time per day.
- Easy international classroom setup. I had participants from all over Europe.
- Very dependent on a stable Internet connection. Also a fast connection is important.
- Very dependent on a stable conference call. Also the line quality is very important.
- Less interaction with the participants. The chat function and the conference call are no replacement for the small talk at the coffee machine.
So what did I learn from this roadtrip?
- First of all I liked it.
- Meeting new people in different counties is very interesting.
- The basic idea’s and questions on SAP HANA are the same.
- Teaching SAP HANA six weeks in a row isn’t boring. It’s actually really fun to be able to do deep dive into the subject.
Would I take the “Red pill” again next time they ask me to do a roadtrip like this. YES!! Definitely YES!! It was lot’s of time away from home, but 100% worth it.
Happy HANA, Hay