Learning from videos

It’s been a while! I was pretty busy this year, but here are some brief news.  I got a new course : 40 lessons to teach my student how to access a MySQL DB from PHP using PDO. 40 lessons is very very short! When you have 14 students, all having different levels of understanding PHP, SQL, not knowing what is a function, what is a connection string, what is a query, or even what is an associative table. OUF!

So I tried it for one trimester with one classroom, I thought we could do this easily, like I show something on my computer and then, they do something similar on theirs. Some of the students had no problems doing this, searching PHP Manual to see how things work etc. But others were stuck with some small issues, like their inputs not showing in $_POST, just because they forgot to put a name in the html input tag…

So when I realized that I would have to do it again with 3 classes, I decided I had to change the way they learn. I created a tutorial, with Google Docs, published all the chapters on a Google Classrom, and said to my students : ok you have these 11 chapters to cover, you have 40 periods. If there’s something new in a chapter, a video is available on my YouTube Channel, you watch the video and you develop a CRUD from scratch.

I created the videos, they’re on my YouTube Channel !

And I also created a mini-portfolio for my students, so I can follow their work, ask questions live and check who’s stuck or who’s work is in progress. The portfolio is created with Google Sheets, and projected to the classroom. Very useful to make everybody know where they are and what is still left to get the job done! The live effect of Google is incredibly appropriate for this kind of pedagogy! I can react to any student comment and give a personal feedback, I can see if they did the corrections I asked for, and I can just sit near them and help when needed.

Student's portfolio

Student’s portfolio

 

Portfolio overview

Portfolio overview

SCRUM : the new experience is getting better

After a few weeks of experiencing SCRUM with another class, the results are way better, especially because of the first GIT phasis where the students had time to learn what they needed to know for a basic project managed with GIT.

This being done, I spend less time resolving GIT conflict, and have a more coaching role within each Scrum team.

The first two half days were entirely dedicated to GIT. Then we started discovering the SCRUM concepts. Every student of the classroom was in charge of presenting one of the concepts (Sprint planning, User story, etc.). After they discovered the concepts, we did the Airplane game, which I improved a bit by adding a new challenge into it.

So, they had to make planes and boats, the PO had to specify which object to make during the iterations and they had to estimate how many of each to do in every sprint. It was even funnier to do it this way, and it gave to the PO a real role during the game, which was not really the case with only planes.

Now it’s been 3 weeks that we are working on a C# project. The class is divided in 3 teams, but they all work on the same project, which is something that I need for work.

Next week, the project shall be finished, we already had one sprint review, it is a small project, so 2 sprints are sufficient.

The Scrum experience is getting better, but there are still some things to improve, for instance, the project size, which should be just a little longer.

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Teaching GIT from scratch

After a more or less chaotic experience in a previous semester course (see my blog about SCRUM), where I tried to “teach” SCRUM, GIT and CSharp in a same course, I realized that it wasn’t the best mix I could imagine.

Since a new course is starting this semester with a new class, and the subject is Project Workshop, I decided to introduce GIT first, then Scrum and then we’ll see.

I learned from my last experience that GIT is very complicated for students at this stage, so, I imagined a step by step experience. The idea is based on one of my teacher fellow’s mini-course.

The idea is to prepare a set of exercices, that the students have to realize in groups of two in order to discover the concepts of version control.

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The exercice is very simple, they have to create a mini website using GitHub and GitExtensions to manage their code.

In order to do it, I give them oral instructions, which are completed by small videos that they can watch at their pace.

The videos are available on my YouTube Channel, and are less than 2 minutes long.

We’re starting next week! I’ll keep you in touch. In the meantime, here is the first video :