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Harald Schilly edited this page Jun 12, 2017 · 10 revisions

Using CoCalc for Tutoring

Setting Up

CoCalc is useful for tutoring in math, science, information technology, and programming.

Here is one way to get started:

  1. Both the teacher and the student setup accounts in CoCalc.

  2. The teacher makes a project for tutoring and invites the student to that project under Projects > Settings > Collaborators. Invitation is easier if the teacher knows the email address that the student used to login to CoCalc.

  3. If the teacher has a paid subscription or a course plan, both users benefit if the project is upgraded to member hosting. The student does not need a paid subscription for this to work. See Pricing for details on member hosting.

  4. The student and the teacher can then view and update any document in the project, including CoCalc worksheets, Jupyter notebooks, data and program files, and terminal sessions. Work can proceed in any file either separately or concurrently.

Hints for Effective Tutoring

  • If the student is new to CoCalc, allow most of the first session for orientation. A warm-up with the equivalent of "Hello World" will save time in the long run.

  • Setup for the next lesson can consist of either the teacher or the student adding a worksheet, which launches the content for the next live tutoring session.

  • Encourage experimentation!

  • You can recover work if something goes wrong using Backups (upper right in the Files viewer). CoCalc worksheets also have time travel, allowing you to restore to a previous version --- see Sage Worksheets for details.

  • Create a project-level chat file, for example "project-talk.sage-chat," for conversations outside the scope of a single file or session. Anytime you are logged into CoCalc, the notification indicator (the bell icon in project toolbar) will show the number of unread messages, whether or not you have the project with the chat open.

  • In CoCalc worksheets (.sagews files), you can use in-file chat (the bubble icon at upper right) for discussing that particular file.

  • Both .sage-chat files and .sagews in-file chat support HTML, Markdown, and LaTeX (enclose equations between single dollar signs - $ - for inline LaTeX and double dollar signs - $$ - for display).

    • A quick example. The polynomial $x^2 - 3x + 2 = 0$ can be written as $x^2 - 3x + 2 = 0$.

    • If you put two dollar signs on each side, you get $$x^2 - 3x + 2 = 0$$ instead, which is nice for important or complicated equations.

  • Use the Log icon in Files toolbar as a shortcut to finding which files have been used most recently. Clicking on the name of a file in the Log opens that file.

  • For users comfortable with the Linux shell, create a separate .term file for each user. Teacher and student can collaborate in the same .term, but there will be times when it's convenient to allow separate command-line work.

  • If users have different shell preferences, these can be configured using the rocket icon just left of the terminal name in the terminal toolbar; all users logged into a project have the Linux user ID of the project, but individual .term files can use a custom file to set environment variables and aliases. It's necessary to exit the terminal session and let it restart for .term initialization changes to take effect.

  • Sometimes it's helpful to switch modes within a CoCalc worksheet, say between R and python or sage or md. It can be helpful to the student to point out that there is an indicator of the current cell type at upper right, just under the chat bubble icon.


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