Interactive teaching channel

Mat came up with a great idea sometime ago, on how to aid the teaching of new eterna players. The other day, he shared it with me in chat. I liked it very much and together we have worked on presenting it.

Imagine that a puzzle could be edited by two people at once, just like a google doc. I think this could be a valuable teaching aid and tool. Two players in the same puzzle. A newbie puzzle solver together with a experienced Eterna puzzles solver.

The experienced players could show what they mean with things like boosting, blocking and stacking tricks to players who needed help.

It is harder to explain how to solve a puzzle with just words and numbers. Being in the actual puzzle with mouse and markings, would make it much more intuitive giving help and receiving it.

One would be able to point out problematic areas with a mouse icon so the new player could see what will need to be changed. The colored markings could be used to point out specific nucleotides that needs changing.

The puzzle should be of public view, so others could learn from it too. It will help spread knowledge and tricks very fast. Perhaps the puzzle could have a separate chat channel for just the puzzle instructor and the new player learning. It could also be a separate chat channel for the puzzle where all could comment on what would be a good move to get a solve. This should be for tutorials and other selected puzzles.

A new player could request help with an interactive puzzle and there should be a way to inform other new players that there is a teaching session open. Both could be done via a button in the chatbox near the screenshot icon. It could be as simply as having a link posted in chat or another way could be have the open teaching sessions listed like the players online now and accessed via that list. I think only players with scores above X should be able to open teaching sessions. If we are going to have players hosting teaching sessions they should be of a mid-high skill level.

It would be nice if both experienced player and the beginner player could change nucleotides, but only on selected puzzles, very low scoring ones and only the beginner changing nucleotides on tutorials. There should be a limit on the numbers of players helping, as to not create confusion. The players doing the teaching could have different mouse icons, to show who is doing what.

Thinking back to school, it helped when the teacher did examples. So the instructing player should be able to work in the puzzle. It would also be interesting having a teaching channel for the puzzlemaker, where the teaching player could modify the puzzle to demonstrate what happens under different circumstances.

This “in the puzzle training” idea could even be used for an “example only” lab. We could show players the layout and explain fundamentals.

This could be a very useful tool to teach whole classes too. It will be a huge help for future eterna players and school teachers bringing their classes in. And thus advance science.

Hi Eli,

This is a great idea - this would not only allow tutoring but collective puzzle soving, results analysis…and more.

This is also very technically challenging one as well. Right now EteRNA’s server runs on simple HTTP requests, which only communicates clients with server on sending new page data, or accepting data submitted by clients.

To enable real time session sharing, EteRNA server now must persistent socket connection, which would allow the server and the clients to communicate with each other in real time. The dev team will need to first figure out how much time it would take to implement such new architecture.

I love the idea, and I would definitely want to push the game into this direction - with more collective interactions in real time. I’ll put it in our task list (…) first and have discussions with the dev team about this.

YES, we need this. I’m all for it. I would volunteer to help teach the basic, beginning puzzles.

Thank you mat for bringing my attention to this, and I think it is a great idea.

In the meantime perhaps players who are interested in teaching could set up a scheduled calendar so that players could know that Teacher A is going to hold a class/walkthrough of topic/puzzle B on date/time C. Everyone interested could “meet up” by having the same puzzle out with numbers on.

Not the same I know… but just putting that out there.

This is an excellent idea.

In many fields of chemistry people who can mentally visualize structures have an advantage over non-visualizers. Collective real time interaction would help level the playing field by allowing newbies to pick up pointers rapidly (much like a plastic model kit used by organic chemistry students).

This would almost be essential when EteRNA goes 3D.

Perhaps you could include some sort of sign-up posts to help know which puzzles/design features are the most difficult to learn (hair pins, loops, boosting, etc.). These could be handled as a class and not just a one-on-one session. This would especially be great with an interactive chat.

I know, a user’s dream is often a programmer’s nightmare.

I really like the idea and I think it would be more great if this kind of tutorial became a real “cooperative puzzles” available for those players who want to set up a “research team”, or for those who just want to play one puzzle with their friends…you know, even if that would be a mess, sometimes chaos can give perfection.

Sorry for my english…

If synchronous editing is beyond scope, perhaps additional users could watch, simply viewing a puzzle in progress without the ability to edit. (See kibitzing.)

Hi Azwaldo! This would indeed be a fine start.

Adding an idea from chat:

Hoglahoo: I wish we could choose a magical base that never interacts to assist in problem solving.

At one point Vineet showed me a demo of multiplayer a while back (just a mock-up done locally with pointers and base selection).

This can also be *partially* done with Teamviewer, but handing over computer control i, well, not really workable in this setting.

Oh, sweet that you saw a demo of multiplayer. Even if just a mock-up. (Vineet - cool!) So it is potentially doable. Which is what I like to hear. Though we will likely have to wait for it.

If you’re willing to give someone else remote control of your computer, it is certainly doable :slight_smile:

I could see some fun games based on mat’s idea. For example, a competition where a team of people versus another team of people try to solve the same puzzle in the least number of mutations, and each person on the team mutates a base in turn

"If you’re willing to give someone else remote control of your computer, it is certainly doable :slight_smile: "

Haha, good point.

I do like your idea of team based puzzle solving and competition. I would never have imagined Eterna being Hogwardized. So Eterna could get its very own version of Quidditch. Catch the final base, that brings energy of target below energy of alternative folds.

That’d be nice, but is it in real life?

Hi Fire!

Glad you like the idea. Actually now I think about it, we already partially got it. The highlighter black ring around a base. We just need to shot pictures with Lightshot to get it in. And LFP mentioned that Vineet showed him a demo of multiplayer. So I think it should be possible. Will we get it fast, probably not.

I came upon this idea in the forums while taking advantage of the break period between labs. I LIKE this idea!  This might be a candidate for a specialized “project” rather than an Eterna Dev game modification.  

There is a need in education for the ability of a “Presenter” to demonstrate to a small group of “clients” how a software program works.  The software program would reside on a server.  That would be the only purpose of that server.  

The “Presenter” would share his/her screen with up to say 5 “clients” .  The clients would be allowed access by passwords set up by the “Presenter”.  Only one person would have control of the software on the server at a time and that would be through the presenter’s screen.  All of the people involved would only have access to the software by a mouse.   The presenter could allow one client at a time to manipulate the mouse.  The presenter could take back control at any time.

The presentation might be able to be “recorded” so that it could be a one to many web cast teaching tool at a later time.  The presenter would have a virtual pointer (highlighter) to bring visual attention to the area of the screen in question.

In summary, clients could simultaneously view a software program (game page), Read the presenters chat instructions, watch the presenter manipulate the mouse to perform various functions.  The presenter could give control to one client at a time ( with the ability to take back control at any time) and instruct the client with the help of a virtual pointer where to click the mouse.

The client would only have access to manipulate the presenters mouse, nothing else.

Maybe this could be a " player created tools" project?

If we migrate towards HTML5 or whatever replaces Flash, maybe the Dev team could give the project some “hints” on a few ideas to try out:)   

I mean, that’s the point of something like TeamViewer, but that’s peer to peer. I think you’re essentially just suggesting using TeamViewer on a central server instead of a personal computer.

I haven’t looked into it, but according to this, the TeamViewer initiator can restrict access to a specific application window.  That seems like it would be pretty good protection against accidental mishaps.   The initiator would need to stay present, though, to quickly close the window or break off the connection if a hostile invitee tried to log out of Eterna and send the browser to a malicious site.

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Thanks LFP6, thanks Omei.  I described what I thought would be a good way for a group of players to collaborate on a design or puzzle solution.  From the looks of it, a third party, desktop sharing software site is not the way to go.  A four digit password?  

Describing an RNA sequence is like “Bingo”( a game) notation. A letter and a number for each placeholder in the sequence.  I thought it might be possible to communicate using a textual sequence notation without giving up control of ones computer across the internet  with a 4 digit password.  I should stick to just doing puzzles.  Thanks again:)

I must have given you the wrong impression, whbob.  What you suggest is a great idea, and should be quite feasible.  The gating issue is development resources. (Eterna is run on a shoestring.) So we were brainstorming ways to achieve something half way there, with relatively little effort.

But I have this impression that you have some programming skills.  If what you envision is going to get done, I image it will be by using XMP to communicate among the participant’s machines.  The initial proof-of-concept implementation could be achieved by a player using a browser extension to hook up two Eterna window interactions with XMP.  Is this by any chance something you would be interested in working on?  A few years ago, there was little chance of a player-created tool getting incorporated into the main Eterna code, but things are a lot different now, and that I think that could actually happen.