Workshop "Trains the Trainer" in Network-Based Education

Advanced network-based education and training (NBET) was the focus of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Metacenter Regional Alliance (MRA) workshop held June 26-27 at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC). A joint effort of the CRPC and the Regional Training Center for Parallel Processing (RTCPP), the workshop marked its third year by bringing together participants to discuss NBET support technologies and receive tutoring on several NBET systems.

NBET uses network-based solutions to support synchronous and asynchronous education and training workflows. It enables the the rapid introduction of emerging technologies and information into education, training, and engineering practice. NBET is part of the CRPC's "Retooling the Supercomputing Community for Scalable Parallelism" project, which provides professional trainers from supercomputer center sites with up-to-date curricular materials and training in the use of parallel programming tools and methods. Initiated in 1994, the retooling project allows the CRPC to reach a large portion of the High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) community by disseminating multimedia educational materials electronically and through annual workshops. The tools, which are available electronically, are used by supercomputing staff who regularly teach courses and training workshops to supercomputing users.

This year's workshop attendees learned about the integration of distance education into various aspects of the Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI), as well as other programs. (See "PACI Projects at the CRPC," Winter 1998 Parallel Computing Research.) CRPC researcher Geoffrey Fox of the Northeast Parallel Architectures Center (NPAC) at Syracuse University presented an introduction to TANGO, a Java-based collaboratory system for the World Wide Web. He followed up with two training sessions later in the workshop. The RTCPP's Mladen Vouk and Richard Klevans of North Carolina State University (NCSU) described and provided training for their Web Lecture System. Other highlights of the event included Virtual Workshops led by Susan Mehringer (Cornell Theory Center), a presentation by Barbara O'Keefe (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne) on the Virtual Classroom/University and a Comparative Evaluation of the NBET Paradigms, and a Panel on Issues in Asynchronous and Synchronous (Network-Based) Learning. Panel members were Richard Carver (George Mason University), Roscoe Giles (Boston University), O'Keefe, Mehringer, and Charles Severance (Michigan State University).

As a followup to the workshop, a series of short courses will be offered over the Internet as part of the Summer 1998 MRA "Netcast" Initiative. Courses include "Introduction to Java," "An Introduction to Networking," "Introduction to Parallel Programming," "Performance Tools," "Scientific Visualization," and "HPC++."

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