Computer science labs with social distancing

Sanish Rai

Abstract


Computer science (CS) labs support student in grasping the main concepts by writing the program codes and seeing them in execution. CS labs are important mainly for introductory CS courses where the students learn the basics of computer concepts and programming. To make the CS lab effective, students are supported by instructors and other lab assistants in pair programming approach where instructors or lab assistant help students write code working side by side at a single computer working on the same problem.

Due to COVID-19 restriction, this process could not be continued since two persons must maintain social distancing. To provide the students with the highest quality of instruction in practical lab, CS labs were instead organized using zoom. Students were placed in different breakout zoom rooms, where instructor or lab assistant would drop in to help the student. The instructor and students would be in the lab while lab assistants would connect remotely and would be placed in a breakout room by instructor. While this technology allowed to view student’s code privately and support them, there were issues such as loss of time in arranging this setup in every labs, difficulty in connecting to zoom, difficult to understand student/instructor, difficulty for students to ask their question as student’s computer did not have microphone. We adapted to the situation and were able to support our students. In this work, we will share how we used this system and discuss the advantages, disadvantages and future improvements on this teaching process.


Keywords


Computer Science, programming, labs, zoom

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