Day 13: Distilling how to use Participatory Live Coding in-person and online - Tip 6

By Yanina Bellini Saibene in Education Community 100DaysToOffload 30Ship30

May 18, 2024

Focus on thumbs up, thumbs down and heart over a black background

Foto de Igor Omilaev en Unsplash

Teaching with participatory live coding can make it difficult to know whether people are following along or unable to code due to ongoing issues that haven’t been fixed.

One way to check with your learners is to give different ways to indicate their status, so today’s tip is

Get real-time feedback and provide immediate help.

Teaching in person

One way to check with your learners is to give each learner 2 sticky notes of different colors (check with your learners if all of them can distinguish between the different colors) and then use them as status flag:

  • If someone has completed an exercise, they put the yellow sticky note on their laptop; 

  • if they run into a problem and need help, they put up the blue one.

This is better than having people raise their hands because: 

  • many people will be more comfortable using the note than raising their hand in front of the full class,

  • they can keep working while their flag is raised, 

  • they signaling to any available helpers who to go to.   

  • the instructor can quickly see from the front of the room what state the class is in. 

Have a good ratio (around 1 each 10 students) between helpers and/or teaching assistants and learners. The main role for helpers is assuring learners do not fall behind that is why they should keep an eye out for sticky notes signaling for help. 

A co-instructor can also keep an eye on the room and give the instructor some immediate feedback on the pace or other issues.

If you have a classroom with learners with different levels, you run the risk of more experienced one becoming demotivated because they feel they are not learning anything new. To keep them engaged, you could ask them to go and help someone who has a “need help” sticky note up. 

Teaching online

We can’t use sticky notes when we teach online, but we have some options:

  • Nonverbal feedback in videoconferencing platforms is the first choice to replace colored sticky notes. For example, in Zoom, a student can mark with a green check mark if they are finished or with a red mark in case they are stuck. As with the sticky notes, these marks do not come off by themselves, so it is necessary to ask the person to remove them if they have already solved the problem or moved on to another exercise.

  • Videoconference platforms have other reactions with emojis, which are useful for a quick general status because it show us the number of each emoji in the list of participants. But these emojis clean after a while so you can miss some information. 

  • For the same purpose, we can also ask them to write in the chat when they finish a task. Although it can be a lot of information together in groups of more than 20 people and complicated to determine who did not answer.

  • You can also created a table in the collaborative document (using  HackMD or Google Docs) with all the participants' names. Ask them to put “ok” or “X” to check if they are on track. You or your helpers can check in on someone who doesn’t fill something in.

  • Other tools, such as surveys or a parallel Slack channel, can be used, but adding more tools to the synchronous class, especially if they are new tools, is a cognitive load that we must consider.

  • Some topics allow you to add an element of randomness to the code that will give different results on different machines or environments, and you can ask your students if their results are the same as yours. For example, when I teach network graphs in R, the algorithm is nondeterministic so the graph my students get is usually different from mine, many times I don’t need to ask, the chat is flooded with messages saying that their graphs are different. That way, you can know they are following you.

Solving problems

Sometimes a “need help” sticky note involves a technical problem that takes a bit more time to solve. To prevent this issue slowing down the whole class too much, use the occasion to take the small break you had planned to take a bit later, giving yourself or any helpers you may have time to fix the problem.

When we are online sometimes is a good idea to create a breakout room for solving tech issues where the student can go with a helper and solve the problem. Helpers should keep an eye out for the shared document(s), the emojis or the Slack channel. indicating a learner signaling for help.

If you students are ok, they can also share their screen with the class to review the problem and try to solved all together.

Posted on:
May 18, 2024
4 minute read, 801 words
Education Community 100DaysToOffload 30Ship30
Education Community 100DaysToOffload 30Ship30
See Also:
Proyecto 2 - Las Estrellas del Universo R
Project 2 - The Stars of R-Universe
Project 1 - rOpenSci's Code of Conduct and Code of Conduct Committee