Exploring Remote Learning Methods for User Training in Research Computing
Education, Training and Outreach
HPC Training and Education
TimeWednesday, 11 November 20202:45pm - 3pm EST
DescriptionThe COVID-19 national health crisis forced a sudden and drastic move to online delivery of instruction across the nation. This almost instantaneous transition from a predominantly traditional in-person instruction model to a predominantly online model has forced programs to rethink instructional approaches. Before COVID-19 and mandatory social distancing, online training in research computing (RC) was typically limited to live-streaming informal in-person training sessions. These sessions were augmented with hands-on exercises on live notebooks for remote participants, with almost no assessment of student learning. Unlike select instances that focused on an international audience, local training curricula were designed with the in-person attendee in mind. Sustained training for RC became more important when several other avenues of research were diminished. Here we report on two educational approaches that were implemented in the informal program hosted by Texas A&M High Performance Research Computing (HPRC) in Spring and Summer 2020 semesters. These sessions were offered over Zoom with the instructor assisted by moderators using the chat features. The first approach duplicated our traditional in-person sessions in an online setting. These sessions were taught by staff and followed an information intensive approach. A second approach focused on engaging learners via shorter pop-up courses in which participants chose the topic matter. This approach implemented a peer-learning environment in which students taught and moderated the training sessions. These sessions were supplemented with YouTube videos, and continued engagement over Slack. An analysis of these approaches is presented.