Linux Workspaces

My computer set-up is this: I have a Windows machine, but then I log on to a virtual Linux environment, so I spend most of my day on Linux. One advantage of this is that I can do the same thing on my classroom computers, so I am effectively using my personal computing space in both my office and in class. This means that I can set things up on the computer before going to class, saving me a bit of time.

I also have tasks that I do daily. For instance, I have online assignments that I grade at every day, and I leave that website and the gradebook open on my desktop. Similarly, I am on Canvas, my LMS, daily, so I leave that open.

My students noticed that I have a lot of tabs open (three for Canvas, one for MyOpenMath, Google Calendar, and GMail guarantee that I have at least six tabs open), and they asked if it drives me crazy. I truthfully answered, “Sort of,” and explained why I do this. Then one of my students suggested that I use different workspaces, which I have never used.

I didn’t think anything of it, but it stuck in my brain. About a week later, I accidentally noticed the workspace option on my computer, and that was enough of a cue to get me to try them. Here are the three workspaces I use:

  1. General Workspace. In this workspace, I always have one terminal open for my to-do list, and Chrome open with two tabs up: Google Calendar (for appointments) and GMail (for emailing with my wife). I open up other tabs and files throughout the day, but they disappear as soon as I am done with them (including work email). I am really enjoying a workspace that is clutter-free for much of the time—I have already thanked the student who suggested it twice.
  2. Grading Workspace. This is the workspace where I go every morning to get a bunch of grading and class maintenance out of the way. I have my grade spreadsheet, several terminals with ready-made commands, and Chrome open. Chrome has tabs for MyOpenMath, Canvas, and a Google Sheet that I use daily. That is really all that is ever open.
  3. Class Workspace. This is where I will open up files and applets that I use in class. This also ensures that there is no chance that students will accidentally see the gradebook. I can prepare this after each class so that it is ready to go for the next class. I am typically on this space twice per week (since I teach twice per week).

So far, I am loving this. My only complaint is that Linux has been slow lately. However, I think that this is just a random slowness—perhaps due to maintenance by IT—since I can’t figure out why have multiple workspaces would add to the computer’s load (and top does not indicate that this is a problem).

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