Miscellaneous Tools!

Got a favorite tool that doesn’t fit in any of the other questions/topics here? Get your vote in! Things like timers, formative assessment, annotation, or drawing tools might belong here. Be sure to include some thoughts on how and why your tool is useful in the context of an online workshop, and what makes it particularly worth the effort of adopting for Carpentries workshops.

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An awesome alternative to actual stickies is https://pinup.com/… virtual stickies!


Babylon House is being co-developed by one of my colleagues, I have not used it yet, but he has described how he uses it, not quite with live coding, but with frequent formative assessment. The goal of it is to be a question management/formative assessment tool even to be used in a physical classroom. It’s free for up to 60 users, which should be enough for a workshop. He wrote about it with screenshots in this medium post. Last I heard they’re still very actively developing it and are open to feedback.

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Does anyone have experience with concurrent code editors? Like, Google Colab used to support simultanous editing of the same notebook by learners - does anything do that now?

I love it!! We used on our last Carpentries Instructor Training (last Monday and Tuesday) and worked perfectly!

Only problem… is that all new stickies appear on the top left corner and when there are many adding stickies at the same time some people won’t see what they are writing. It’s worth to tell to the people to move them around before starting to write.

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Last time I tried Google’s colab didn’t work as I expected (and I just tried again to be sure and it’s the same). These notebooks are not as smooth as a google doc where you see what the others are editing. It’s like when you load a shared notebook you see what’s there in that moment, and you start a “new” notebook… all the changes you do after are not sent to others in real-time. Until you refresh, then you get something - not sure which version wins. Losing cells that you may have created before.

CoCalc by SageMath could be a better option as for teaching. However, I think the only “real-collaborative” (as in real-time editing) is their latex editor.

Other alternatives (though only for files) I have had more success are:

There are also a couple of plugins for atom like atom-pair and motepair, but I’ve never used them.

Paging @dvanic - you mentioned having resorted to Twitch for backup communications when Zoom dropped out mid-workshop. Would you mind posting some details about exactly how that worked for those unfamiliar with Twitch?

Sorry, I think I worded that poorly. We had tried Twitch the week before, and between the lag and the public nature of the platform we were hesitant to use it as backup. We jumped to teams when the zoompocalypse happened.

What I meant when I said we did a twitch-style code-along demo was that instead of having the learners live-code we ended up doing more of a narrated walk-through of the code we would normally live code (and broke into challenge tasks as per usual) - similar to how gamers show their gameplay via twitch. This allowed us to work through the content in reasonable time (it was an intermediate workshop, so if we only worked through linear models and never got to random forests or gradient boosting our learners would not have been happy).

Related with that we are going to try a small git workshop with learners sharing their terminal via shellshare to few helpers that will follow what they type. I’m adapting it for windows and compiling instructions for the three operative systems. I’ll share experiences once when we do our workshop, maybe next week. We did tried between the people on our group for twenty minutes and it worked very well.

https://jamboard.google.com/ works even better!