10/3/13

No Projector? No Problem! Part 2

Yesterday, I started teaching using VNC to share my screen to my students. Unfortunately, I still had to draw on the whiteboard to emphasise on some points of the lecture. I used the whiteboard yesterday but today is different.

Successfully demonstrating code and lecture slides through their screens, I extended my tools by adding SmoothDraw – a free drawing tool that works very well with tablets. SmoothDraw is the recommended software by KhanAcademy in Windows. For Mac, you have the free Autodesk Sketchbook Express. Both of which were designed for tablets and drawing.

With my students viewing my screen, I put Notepad++ on the right side with SmoothDraw on the left and started drawing doubly linked lists while showing the code. On their computers, they were able to follow while they try to type the code themselves. I think my experiment was successful.

Aside from this, the students were exposed to tablets. I brought my Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch to school. The normally noisy kids were curious and wanted to draw using the tablet. The first thing that they wrote was their name or signature. How vain 🙂

I think this also gives me the opportunity to be more comfortable with tablets so I can perhaps improve my “drawing” skills. Haha! What a joke!

10/3/13

No Projector? No Problem!

It’s been quite a long time since we’ve had a dedicated working projector for the Viper Lab (classroom where I’m teaching). We’ve already asked for additional projectors but due to the high demand, it cannot be met. We’ve resorted to asking the community through the foundation at AghamRoad.ph. Unfortunately, it’s moving slowly despite being shared in Facebook more than a handful of times already.

I’m teaching Data Structures and Algorithms and go in-depth even to the memory level and pointers when I discuss. I use a lot of code and diagrams to show my point. Unfortunately, it gets tiring to keep on writing board-full of diagrams every meeting. This is where the advantage of the online lecture slides and video lectures come in. However, even with lecture slides, if you don’t have a projector, it’s not as easy to transfer the concepts. The video lectures are meant to supplement the lectures in class for those people who want a repeat of the lecture. They weren’t designed to be the primary method for teaching.

Being desperate, I turned to a familiar technology that I’ve encountered in my previous work. It’s time to work with VNC again. VNC, Virtual Network Computing, is a network protocol for screen sharing or remote desktop. With it, you can control another computer. For my class, I didn’t need full control. I just needed a way to project my screen unto theirs. Also, since we’re low in budget, I was looking for a free portable VNC Server and Client (Viewer). Last time I checked, RealVNC had a price tag and it still has for the server but the client is free. Luckily, I found the free Ultra VNC.

Yesterday, I configured my Windows 7 on my MacBook Pro to run Ultra VNC server. I asked my students to download the RealVNC viewer from my computer (since I have apache running as well). Since we’re all using portable versions, no installation was necessary. They simply unzipped and ran the executable and connected to my laptop via VNC. At first, it wasn’t working right and the clients are all getting blank screens. I closed my VNC server multiple times and it didn’t seem to fix it. I went to the task manager to see a few lingering VNC processes running. Manually ending these instances, I ran the server again and asked everyone to connect. When I heard a few people gasp in amazement, I knew it was working.

“This is cool!”, “How did you do this?”, “It’s amazing”, “Sir, can you see my screen as well?” were the responses of the students. I told them to scale to fit their windows since my screen resolution is quite high and they only see almost half of the screen. With this at hand, I continued my lectures on Linked Lists. I can show them the lecture slide then switch to Notepad++ and Cygwin to demonstrate. I checked my students’ screens from time to time and I noticed that the mouse doesn’t show. I had to keep on highlighting texts in order for them to follow me while I talk.

However, since the lecture was about linked lists, I still needed to draw. The students were cheering “Sir, use Paint!” And I refused to give in to their demands and decided to still use the traditional method of writing on the board – which leads me to another experiment for tomorrow. Since I need to draw diagrams (lots of it), I will bring my tablet tomorrow and see if I could draw everything on screen (using SmoothDraw). Aside from that, I’ll try to record my screen using CamStudio.

Despite all these attempts, the whiteboard is still necessary since the wide space will allow me to write a ton of information and the students can easily go back by looking at the previous writings.

09/6/13

C++ Pointers + Structs

Finally done with another video lecture! This is a continuation of the previous video on Pointers and Arrays in C++. This video focuses on Pointers, Structs and Arrays in C++.

I’m still experimenting on which video lecture style is most appropriate – formal vs informal, live (hand drawn with markers) vs digital (screen recorded) – for computer programming. People might be thinking that digital is the only way to go but I believe there are certain topics that need to be discussed by hand first such as pointers.

iPad as DocuCam

My set up to record this video is shown in the picture. I was looking for a cheap, DIY docucam (document camera) and this is what I came up with. I originally looked for a 2-foot single tier wire rack but I couldn’t find one that fits. I searched around Wilcon Home Depot and arrived at the kitchen area where I got that thing. I don’t know what you call it but it was flat, elevated and had gaps for the camera to see through. I got 2 velcro straps to fasten the iPad to the kitchen thing.

It turns out, there’s a huge focal point discrepancy between the photo and video mode of the iPad 3. The video mode seemed to be zoomed in as compared to the photo mode. Meaning, I had to make my docucam higher to cover more area. I estimated that I needed around 2 feet to get it to the right height. I used my idle PS3 games and audio CDs as pedestals as shown. Despite the achieved height, half of the screen was still covered by my hand but it served the purpose. Later on, I further increased the height by replacing my makeshift pedestals with the boxes of The Book of Sith and The Jedi Path 🙂 They still served me well.

For the writing materials, I bought the whiteboard and eraser from National Book Store. The colored markers came from the president of my Advisory class, Maia Leyretana, when she came back from Korea.

I made the lecture somewhat formal, with most of the bloopers cut out or redone but there was still a fluke in one of the slides and I left it there. I recorded my voice using a Zoom H1 and edited the video using Camtasia for Mac.

Taking in the comments from my last video lecture, I targeted a max of 10 mins and had a short introduction to indicate what I’m expecting from the viewers such as prior knowledge. The original lecture that I used in class was good for 45 minutes. Cutting out the interaction and mistakes, I was able to compress it to 9:58 but I think the flow is terribly fast.

Nonetheless, I believe the video is still educational. Feel free to comment below on what I need to improve on. Thanks in advance!

You can check out the video here.

08/29/13

C++ Pointers + Arrays

Finally got to upload the video lecture on C++ Pointers + Arrays. But honestly, I think it’s boring. I still need to practice making video lectures. This is like the 3rd one that I made but I’m still not getting the hang of it.

The more I make it formal, the less interesting it becomes. If I make it casual, it tends to be lengthy.

Aside from the entertainment factor, I found it difficult to draw on Adobe Photoshop. I tried to look for drawing tools that automatically smoothen out your pencil drawings but I couldn’t find one. My best bet was Autodesk Sketchbook Express for Mac which is free to download from the Mac App Store and iTunes. It has a different user experience which was clearly intended to be keyboard-free. All the controls and settings can be done from the widgets of the user interface. Pretty interesting approach there and fun to play with. Though I need more practice writing and drawing with the tablet.

As for screen recording, I’m using the best one out there and it’s TechSmith Camtasia for Mac which can be found here. What I’m using is the full version because the beta testing, which lasted for more than half a year, has ended and I got my free copy 😀

Nonetheless, the video can be found here. Feel free to comment but please be merciful.

I’ll try to make another one. Though I’m also exploring different methods aside from digital video lectures.

Edit: Oh look here! Autodesk is looking for beta testers for Sketchbook Pro!

08/25/13

Facebook Comments

That turned out easier than I expected…

I’m now using Facebook comments for this blog rather than the built-in comment system of WordPress. I followed the instructions here and it worked like a charm. I didn’t know making a Facebook App was that simple too. Amazing.

Thank goodness for nerds like Fat Panda.

07/16/13

First Long Test of Batch 2014

I can’t believe I have barely touched my blog for more than a year. Wow! Maybe it’s because I didn’t have star wars bonus questions anymore. But nonetheless, it’s back 😀

The first LT of CS4 SY 2013-2014 had 4 bonus questions all related to Star Wars Episode I. The questions were

1) Who was Darth Vader’s mother?
2) What did Yoda sense in Anakin when he was presented to the Jedi Council?
3) Which planet did Qui-Gon die in?
4) What does TPM stand for?

The correct answers are Shmi, fear, Naboo and The Phantom Menace. There were a couple of funny answers for (1), namely, Darth Mother and Mrs Vader. But the 4th question had really crazy answers. And here’s the list…

The Potato Man
The Potato Master
The Planet Master
Triple Pulse Magnet
The Planet Mars
Technological Programming Machine
The Perfect Me
Total Prime Midichlorians
The Pancake Monster
T Planetary Movement
The Prime Minister
Teleportation Malfunction (where is the ‘P’?)
Toilet Paper Management
True Patrol Master
Tingling Potty Mouth
The Product Multiplier
Trigger Powered Machinegun
The Protection Machine
To Pass Math
Treasure Planet Map
Total Programming Mess
Transport Pair Mechanism
Twin Propulsion (Where is the ‘M’?)
The Post Menstruation

Haha! The last one was totally unexpected. I can’t wait for the next exam. 😀

03/12/11

And this school year ends…

Batch 2013, I will miss you. And I’m sure you won’t miss the Star Wars bonus questions in Comp Sci long tests. Speaking of which, the last long test for the school year had the following questions:

1) What does AT-AT stand for?
2) What does TIE stand for?
3) Which side does the X-wing belong to?
4) Who created Star Wars?

The correct answers are: All Terrain – Armored Transport, Twin Ion Engine, The Rebellion or Rebel Alliance and George Lucas.

Many people got George Lucas and many thought that the choices for 3 is light or dark side. It’s supposed to be a choice between the Galatic Empire or the Rebel Alliance. As for the first two questions, here are their answers:

ATAT = nagmamadali?
Above Thinking – Annexing Toilet
A trip at Tartakovsky
Aspired to attack troops
Anakin Tywalker – Anakin Tywalker
Android Technology
A truck, a truck
Ang tae – ay tae
Arguing the Affinity of Terabytes
Atat na Atat
A Totally – Awesome Toy
Anti Tank – Aerial Trooper
Asdfghjkl Test – Asdfghjkl Test
Another test – about toucans
All Terrain – Attack Transport
Eager (example: si JM ay atat ng kumain)
All the awesome things
At the – Asian Tower
AsTeroid – AsTeroid

The Immortal Enemy
Thinking in End
The Internation Embassy
The Internet Explorer
Talking Indian Emperor
The Intelligent Emperor
Totally Inverted Eyes
To Interlace Everything
Tae Invading Earth
Technological Improvement Era
The Inexplanable Explanation
Troop Interceptor Engager
Test is Ergghhh
The Imperial Emperor
The Industrial Evolution
The Intelligent Exorcism
(Duh!) Draw!
Tactical International Electronics, Ltd
The Integrated Entropy
The Indeed End
The Intergalactic Enforcers
The Imperial Emperor

Hehe… Haaay, no more crazy bonus questions with weird answers from teenagers for the next two months…

01/12/11

ROTS

Finally! Third quarter has ended officially for CS2. And of course, the last requirement is a Long Test with a very difficult 10-point question. Enough of the academics, more of the craziness. My bonus questions are as follows:

1) What does ROTS stand for?
2) Which planet did Obi-Wan and Anakin fight in?
3) Who is the Sith Lord that Yoda dueled in the Senate Building?
4) How many Jedi Masters were present when they attempted to arrest the Supreme Chancellor?

The answers are Revenge of the Sith, Mustafar, Emperor Palpatine/Darth Siduous, 4 (Agen Kolar, Saesee Tiin, Kit Fisto, Mace Windu).

To spice things up, I gave a half point to anyone who would attempt to figure out what ROTS means. This way, they’d make up ridiculous weird answers for my laughter 🙂 Hahaha!

And here are their answers:

Rated Over the Scale
Return of the Strawberries
Return of the Sith
Rule of the Students
Rotting Old Tom Sawyer
Return of the Spongebob
Rise of the Sith
Really Over Thinking Sir
Rampage of the Siths
Return of the Something
Rise of the Supreme
Rotting Oranges Taste Sour
Rotting Overlord of the Slaves (ROOTS?)
Romance of the Sperms (from The Panty Maker)
Rise of the Shaman
Return of the Supers
Red on the Spot
Return of the Sandman
Return of the Stars
Right on the Spot
Return of the Sayans
Root of the Swarm
Rise of the Sun
Revenge of the Skywalker
Rolling on the Ship
Rooster over the Sun
Reign of the Siths
Robot Ornament that Sucks
Return of the Superstars
Revenge of the Sissies

For #2, many students had the correct idea and answered;
Lava Planet, Volcano Planet, etc

It’s been a trend that when my question is answerable by a number, the answer will most likely be the number itself 🙂 But still, there are those who insist that there is 1 or 5 or 10000000 Jedi Masters were present during the attempt to arrest the Chancellor.

Oh well, that’s it for 3rd Quarter. Onward to 4th Qtr! Functions and Arrays, here we come!

11/23/10

Another set of weird bonus answers

I finished checking the first LT of the 3rd Quarter yesterday. I have now consolidated the weird answers of the students.

The geeky questions are:

1. What does AOTC stand for?
2. What kind of people did Anakin kill including both women and children?
3. Who served as the genetic template for the Clone Army and Boba Fett?
4. Who is the assassin that sent the venomous insects to kill Senator Padme Amidala in her apartment?

The correct answers are:

1. Attack of the Clones
2. Tusken Raiders or Sand People
3. Jango Fett
4. Zam Wesell

Of my 3 sections, only 1 student got all 4 questions correct: Pardau Valerio of Champaca. Amazing! I heard that she was “studying” Star Wars Episode II on the morning before the LT! She was awake at 530AM just to watch it! Haha! Geekiness!

The funny and weird answers of my students are…
1. What does AOTC stand for?
Army of the Clones
American Official Trading Company
Astronomical Outpost Territorial C (couldn’t read his handwriting)
Arrival of the Clown (c/o Wilmer)
Appearance of the Children
All oranges to Chiara! (haha!)
Ay Oh Taong Cute?
Anakin on the Chocolate
Assassin of the Creed
Army of the Clones
Army of Two Camia
All of the Choices
Arising of the Clones
Anakin of the Clonearmy (pilit yung C!)
Alliance of the Cockroaches (c/o Kyle)

Someone answered “Bad People” to number 2. Then there were students who answered “Master Jedi Kiko” to 3 and 4. Someone even answered “me…lol” to 3. Haha! Crazy! It’s fun checking their papers 😀

For next LT… Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith