Teaching PDC in the Time of COVID: Hands-on Materials for Remote Learning

Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Cyber Research Center, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Publication Date


Publication Title

2021 IEEE International Parallel and Distributed Processing Symposium Workshops (IPDPSW)

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


In response to shifts in the hardware foundations of computing, parallel and distributed computing (PDC) is now a key piece of the core CS curriculum. For CS educators, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting switch to remote-learning add new challenges to the tasks of helping learners understand abstract PDC concepts and equipping them with hands-on practical skills. This paper presents several novel teaching materials for teaching PDC remotely, including: (i) using a Runestone Interactive "virtual" handout to learn how to run OpenMP multithreaded programs on a Raspberry Pi, and (ii) using Google Colab and Jupyter notebooks to run mpi4py instances on remote systems and thus learn about MPI distributed multiprocessing. The authors piloted these strategies during a multi-day faculty development workshop on teaching PDC. Assessment data indicates that the materials greatly aided professional development and preparedness to teach PDC.

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