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Building an Authentic Novice Programming Lab Environment

Author Natalie Culligan, Kevin Casey
Abstract As computer science becomes increasingly popular and classes become larger, there is an ever-increasing demand on course coordinators' time. As well as teaching classes, running labs, preparing exams, and providing feedback to students on their work throughout the year, course coordinators are required to keep their courses updated in order to prepare their students in a rapidly changing and evolving industry. As computer scientists, and as programmers, automation stands out as a potential solution. Automating the correction of labs and exams would free the course coordinators' time, allowing them to focus on improving the course in other ways. VPL, or Virtual Programming Lab, is a plugin for a Learning Management System, such Moodle, that provides automation of this nature, by using shell scripts to assess student code and provide automated feedback. The VPL system includes a web-based editor embedded in Moodle that students use to write their code. Our concern is that VPL does not provide a sufficiently authentic programming experience. With this in mind, we have created MULE, a browser-based desktop environment in which students can view course assignments, write, compile and run their code, while maintaining the advantages provided by VPL such as instant feedback
Keywords Computer Science Education, Programming, Virtual Coding Environment, Automatic Assessment, Computer Science Pedagogy, Online Programming
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2018
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