Organizing a practical class online

By Yanina Bellini Saibene in Education Community

June 19, 2022

Practical Class

A 100% hands-on class means no exposure to new material and no lecture. Instead, we use the entire class to exercise and resolve doubts synchronously and online. This class was part of the Diploma in Data Science Applied to Public Policy at Universidad Guillermo Brown.


Using Zoom as a meeting platform, we created rooms for group work with different objectives:

  • A series of rooms for work according to themes, for example, a room to work on ggplot, a room to work on Tableu, and a room for software installation problems.

  • We also created some rooms to work in groups of two for the final work of the subject.

  • Finally, some rooms for those who work individually.

The rooms lasted the total class time (three hours), and the students moved as they wanted between those rooms and called us if they needed help. We visited all occupied rooms even if they did not call us.

We generated a shared document so that they could write down questions and we could answer them (structured with the names of the rooms).


  1. We resolved doubts and queries. Students were able to complete and submit several of the practical assignments.

  2. We discussed the final work and selected and started to analyze the datasets—many with their data generally related to their work.

  3. They accompanied and helped each other to solve the exercises. It is very satisfying to see how they explain and help each other. The best example of _we learn better together.

  4. We solved software installation problems, which is always a source of frustration. Having a space to prepare and install the environment with the support of teachers is very positive. It shows how teachers diagnose and solve installation problems. Allowing us to share alternatives will enable students to finish the class with all necessary software.

  5. We were able to share specific material for their work. As the data sets are different, specific tasks that are not seen in class in as much detail may be needed. This instance allows us to identify those needs and guide each student to the sources and examples that are best for the assignment they want to do.


As always, at the end of the class, we asked them to complete an anonymous feedback form where we asked two things: one positive and one negative aspect of the class.

The feedback was very good. What students marked as most positive aspects was:

  • Being able to work in practice and having us there to consult doubts, problems, and alternatives.

  • They enjoyed working with their classmates as a group.

  • They appreciated being able to use the synchronous time of the course to solve the practical part. Everyone taking the course works, and time is a scarce resource. Furthermore, class time is something they have already set aside, so using this time to do the labs was very convenient for most of the group.