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Primeur weekly 2014-06-02

Special

Interview with Jan Bot and Cristina Aiftimiei about the SURFsara MOOC on-line training on Grid computing ...

Interview with Yuliya Fetyukova and Peter Ittzes about the BioVeL biodiversity portal and Crowd computing ...

Counting and analyzing butterfly species and their occurrence in Europe with BioVeL ...

Teaching Grid computing in a Massive Open Online Course ...

Exascale supercomputing

20 years of Beowulf: Workshop to honour Thomas Sterling's 65th birthday ...

The Cloud

IBM opens Mainframe Linux and Cloud Center in Beijing ...

EuroFlash

Allinea Software's tools simplify development of High Performance Embedded Computing ...

Allinea DDT adds day-one support for NVIDIA CUDA 6 ...

Lobachevsky State University of Nizhni Novgorod officially launched the "Lobachevsky" supercomputer ...

PRACEdays14 concludes with 3 Awards ...

USFlash

Worldwide server market revenues decreased -2.2% in first quarter as volume server demand improves, according to IDC ...

Fujitsu Awarded Imperial Invention Prize for High-Dimensional Supercomputer Interconnect Technology ...

NEC receives order for SX-ACE vector supercomputer from Tohoku University, Osaka University and the National Institute for Environmental Studies ...

Sandia gets ready for the computers of the future ...

More realistic than ever before: CAST releases beta version of wysiwyg R33 ...

wysiwyg makes light of Macao's 'Rhythm of Life' celebration ...

Silicon Mechanics awards 2014 Research Cluster Grant to Wayne State University ...

Supermicro introduces 1U 32" 12x 3.5" HDD storage solutions ...

Cirrascale launches SM4490D with NexentaStor 4.0, the industry's first enterprise-class Software-Defined Storage solution ...

New University of Colorado study illuminates how cancer-killing gene may actually work ...

Teaching Grid computing in a Massive Open Online Course


22 May 2014 Helsinki - Jan Bot, Consultant at SURFsara, The Netherlands, explained in a presentation in the Community Building and Engagement session at the EGI Forum in Helsinki, Finland, how you can teach Grid computing to the masses via a Massive Open Online Course or a so-called MOOC.

MOOC is distance education offered via the Internet to a large number of people for free, Jan Bot started. There are students, there is a teacher and you have content.

MOOCs consist of short video lectures of 5 to 10 minutes in a virtual class environment offering material and quizzes. The MOOCs have discussion forums, they are interactive and sometimes, students can get a Certificate of Achievement.

Certain universities develop their own platform, according to Jan Bot.

Why has SURFsara set up a MOOC on Grid computing? Jan Bot explained that Grid computing has a high learning curve. One day seminars don't have the desired effect. Another reason is the international nature of Grid computing.

The SURFsara MOOC had mini-project goals. The first one was getting experience teaching a MOOC. The second one consisted in creating Grid documentation. Teaching an international audience about Grid computing also constituted a challenge but it provides the opportunity to increase the visibility of the Grid community.

Jan Bot elaborated on the preparation phase of the Grid MOOC. You have to define your motivation and the target group, search for real experiences, follow other MOOCs, and identify roles such as the instructor, the co-ordinator, the developer, the tester, the video editor, and externals.

You also have to choose a MOOC platform and create the material including hand-outs, slides, and assignments. It is important to determine restrictions with regard to software and data.

The curriculum of the Grid MOOC included the following elements:

  • introduction to parallel and distributed computing
  • cluster computing
  • Grid computing overview
  • Grid security: certificates, virtual organisations
  • Grid job life cycle
  • Grid toolkit
  • scripting
  • Grid storage
  • advanced Grid jobs
  • data management
  • workflows
  • pilot jobs

The equipment for the MOOC consisted of video capture using a laptop, a camera with microphone, screen recording software, Wacom and drawing software. The screencasts were performed with QuickTime Player.

Live recordings were made in the Collaboratorium in Amsterdam. The organizers used the MOOC platform of the University of Amsterdam.

The MOOC on Grid computing was initiated via the EGI-InSPIRE project by SURFsara. The duration was 8 weeks with 9 lectures per week and 1 mandatory quiz per week. There were several exercises per week, followed by a final assignment.

In total there were 37 lectures consisting of video lectures, start-up guides, and use cases, Jan Bot explained.

Further more, there were hands on prerequesites, virtual machines for the software, and Grid certificates for the authentication.

The virtual machines had main VM with a complete UI installation; a torque queue; and WS-Pgrade VM.

In overall there were 350 participants. 13% submitted all the quizzes. 9% succeeded in the MOOC but the rate of dropouts was expected, according to Jan Bot

The effort to set up the MOOC was considerable. It took 6 months of preparation; 2 months of running the course including the announcements, the discussion forums, and the extra videos; and 1 month to wrap up.

Jan Bot also did an evaluation among the participants. A google docs questionnaire was sent to the participants. When analyzing the user statistics, he learned that the participants were often familiar with the Linux command line and scripting languages. The participants were mostly PhDs and scientific programmers. More than 300 people registered but only 29 people got a certificate of participation.

Teaching a MOOC is very time consuming, according to Jan Bot. One has to keep in mind that the team does not consist of experienced lecturers. One also has to provide semi-anonymous access to a production computing environment which means setting up accounts, organizing Grid certificates and VO membership. One also has to maintain a predefined timeline which forces you and the participants to commit to such a project.

When setting up a MOOC, one should discuss about the necessity of using a MOOC or not; about the motivation and about the target group.

In his future plans Jan Bot is thinking of combining a MOOC with real life teaching to get more feedback. He also wants to involve universities of applied sciences and modify the teaching platform to directly interface with the compute infrastructure. He considers teaching a class without a time constraint.

External contributors for use cases would be very useful too.

Leslie Versweyveld

Back to Table of contents

Primeur weekly 2014-06-02

Special

Interview with Jan Bot and Cristina Aiftimiei about the SURFsara MOOC on-line training on Grid computing ...

Interview with Yuliya Fetyukova and Peter Ittzes about the BioVeL biodiversity portal and Crowd computing ...

Counting and analyzing butterfly species and their occurrence in Europe with BioVeL ...

Teaching Grid computing in a Massive Open Online Course ...

Exascale supercomputing

20 years of Beowulf: Workshop to honour Thomas Sterling's 65th birthday ...

The Cloud

IBM opens Mainframe Linux and Cloud Center in Beijing ...

EuroFlash

Allinea Software's tools simplify development of High Performance Embedded Computing ...

Allinea DDT adds day-one support for NVIDIA CUDA 6 ...

Lobachevsky State University of Nizhni Novgorod officially launched the "Lobachevsky" supercomputer ...

PRACEdays14 concludes with 3 Awards ...

USFlash

Worldwide server market revenues decreased -2.2% in first quarter as volume server demand improves, according to IDC ...

Fujitsu Awarded Imperial Invention Prize for High-Dimensional Supercomputer Interconnect Technology ...

NEC receives order for SX-ACE vector supercomputer from Tohoku University, Osaka University and the National Institute for Environmental Studies ...

Sandia gets ready for the computers of the future ...

More realistic than ever before: CAST releases beta version of wysiwyg R33 ...

wysiwyg makes light of Macao's 'Rhythm of Life' celebration ...

Silicon Mechanics awards 2014 Research Cluster Grant to Wayne State University ...

Supermicro introduces 1U 32" 12x 3.5" HDD storage solutions ...

Cirrascale launches SM4490D with NexentaStor 4.0, the industry's first enterprise-class Software-Defined Storage solution ...

New University of Colorado study illuminates how cancer-killing gene may actually work ...