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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.

HayMatrix.png

In the last episode of my SAP HANA roadtrip I’m teaching from the virtual world. At SAP Education we call this teaching method Virtual Live Classroom (VLC).

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.

The participants also get SAP HANA system access via a WTS@SAP connection. With this WTS@SAP the participants can do the exercises that belong to the HA200 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.

TrainerSetup.jpg

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.

PaperShow.jpg

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.

Cursist04a.jpgAs 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.

SelfieVLC.png!!Thanks for sending me your picture!!

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.


Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Here are the links to week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4 and week 5.


Happy HANA, Hay


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8 Comments

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  1. Steffi Warnecke

    And so we came full circle. 😀

    I was thinking about taking a virtual classroom in the future, because of the time saved for travel and the money saved for a hotel, but the cons outweight the pros for me pretty much. So this is great feedback for me and I’ll definitely keep going with the real classrooms. ^^

    Thank you for sharing this travel diary with us. It’s obvious that you put a lot of thought into the whole thing, because the red line (picture of the training facility, pictures of participants, summary of the course and some movie-reference *g*) was still there.

    If some of your colleagues go on such a journey teaching other courses, maybe you can persuade them to do something similar? 😉

    Regards,

    Steffi.

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    1. Henricus Bouten Post author

      Hi Steffie,

      Thanks, for the nice feedback. Yes all nice things come to an end, but I’m already lined up for a SAP HANA class in Germany and also Switzerland. So it’s an never ending story 🙂


      VLC is different from a real classroom if you look at aspects like interaction with the participants. There is interaction yes, but nothing beats the face to face experience.


      In this VLC class it was the only viable option. The customer had 9 participants all over Europe, so getting them all in one week together in one classroom would have been an impossible mission and very costly. So for this workshop VLC was the best solution.


      I already checked some of my SAP CoEE colleagues, but they weren’t in a blogging mode (yet).


      The movie references just made it more fun. I hope that everyone that reads this blogging series sees that leaning is fun and that there is a huge the added value of a SAP trainer in front of a classroom.


      I think that classroom, VLC, SAP Learning Hub and e-leaning can and will coexist. This because everyone has a different leaning need.


      Regards, Hay

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        1. Steve Rumsby

          I’m with you, Steffi – I much prefer in-person training, for two main reasons.

          First, interaction with the trainer, and especially interactions with other students, is much poorer when done virtually I find. I never get as much from virtual courses and from in-person courses.

          Second, going away to attend a course allows you to dedicate the whole time to the course and not be distracted by other things going on in the office when you are attending virtually. I get too much “can you just sort this out during your next break”, which is simply distracting.

          The flip side, of course, is that it costs more, in both time and money, and so may not happen so often. I’d certainly rather have a virtual course than nothing, but I’d always take an in-person course over a virtual course if possible.

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          1. Steffi Warnecke

            Ah, Steve. Exactly my thoughts. ^^ I’m much for interaction and the distraction-thing is a big issue, too.

            I like Hay’s thought:

            I think that classroom, VLC, SAP Learning Hub and e-leaning can and will coexist. This because everyone has a different leaning need.

            As long as the real classroom courses stay, I’m happy (though it’s pretty hard to find one for IdM, I tell you that. :/).

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          2. Matt Fraser

            This is our own experience with distance learning as well.  We have done both, sent students to training, and had students participate in online training.  We’ve also brought a trainer out onsite when we had a larger number of students all for the same course, and that was quite cost-effective, and being in an organized classroom with other students and in-person instructor, even though it was here onsite at our offices, still seemed to cut down on the distractions of work interruptions.  Our conclusion was that distance learning was fine, but no substitute (for the reasons both Steve and Steffi enumerated), and we will seek classroom experiences instead whenever possible.

            That said, Hay, it seems you did everything possible to give your students as close to a real classroom experience that you could, and that may go a long way toward closing that gap.  Even dinosaurs like me have to admit that online experiences are more and more likely to be the go-to solution of the future.

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            1. Henricus Bouten Post author

              Thanks Matt.

              I indeed tried to get as close as possible to the real classroom experience. Getting feedback like below tells me I did a good job.

              With the permission from Vesa:

              Hi Hay,

              Just wanted to express my gratitude for the HA200 training this week. The material was good and you made the experience exceptionally enjoyable and professional!

              SAP HANA is no longer that scary and mystical to me, but still very very cool…. Thanks to You! 🙂

              Regards, Vesa

              An on-site SAP training is also something that is provided by SAP Education. This option is called Customer Specific Training (CST) and then you get the trainer, the material, the system access all on-site.

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