CodeExpert meets PELE

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Self-organizing, flexible appointments between students and TAs made easy

We teach Computer Science to 1200 students from various life science and engineering departments. Our courses focus on learning the foundations of programming and data management. To allow students to learn these relevant competencies at their own pace in a flipped classroom concept, we provide them with a series of consecutive online tutorials (E.Tutorial) and six projects. Every two weeks, the students have to present one of those projects to a teaching assistant to get feedback and to clear up any misconceptions. We use the PELE functionality of CodeExpert to flexibly arrange those online or on-site meetings.

Teaching before the pandemic
After each tutorial, they have to transfer the learned concepts into the real world by solving a project with real data. At the end of each sequence, students have to discuss their individual project results in a 15-minute one-to-one meeting with a teaching assistant. The idea of these repeated formative assessments is to check the achievement of learning goals, motivate learners through personalized feedback, and clarify misconceptions immediately.
In order to be able to organize individual project presentations even with large cohorts of several hundred students, we have developed the so-called Personal Electronic Learning Environment (PELE) a few years ago. It enables sign-up, call-up and evaluation of student project meetings. However, the system was limited to on-site student presentations only.

Challenge at the beginning of the pandemic
At the beginning of the pandemic, on-site meetings were no longer possible. Since we have developed PELE in our group, we were able to extend the software in no time so that students could sign up for online meetings with ZOOM as follows: after a successful online registration, students were called by a teaching assistant and were then automatically connected in a personal meeting room where the discussion took place. During spring semester 2020, we conducted approximately 2000 such remote formative assessments and seamlessly switched from online to remote presentations.

Optimised teaching during the pandemic
Around the same time, we have been considering switching from the programming environment installed locally by our students to an online IDE. The online IDE Code Expert developed at the D-INFK brings many advantages to managing programming classes with large groups. However, personal project discussions were not possible in CodeExpert during the first two Covid-semesters. We used the positive experience we made with our proprietary system to extend CodeExpert with PELE’s functionality for face-to-face online feedback discussions. During the last semester, we have extended CodeExpert for registrations to online presentations. At the same time, we had to transfer the whole course content to the online IDE and link it with the existing E.Tutorials. In spring semester 21, CodeExpert successfully replaced the old PELE system.
Our survey results show a very high level of student satisfaction with the new environment CodeExpert. In particular, the opportunity to regularly discuss project results with an expert is very popular among students.

After the pandemic
In Fall Semester 21, we offered both, on-site and online discussions with CodeExpert. The students chose both: On-site discussions offered more personal contact, whereas Online appointments were more attractive at Off-peak times when many students were already at home. Online appointments had the advantage that it was easier to scale up when space was tight, but on the other hand the technical hurdles were somewhat higher.

What discussion points are you particularly interested in when exchanging with other lecturers? 

Hands-On of PELE in CodeExpert. We would show CodeExpert, the PELE functionality and how it can seamlessly be integrated into the bonus system using experience points. We could talk about possible solutions and use cases for large programming classes, project and task correction with oral feedback. And we could also show, how CodeExpert could be used to let students enrol automatically for Semesterend-Prüfungen or exercises, where capacity is limited or many different rooms/locations are

Course Description

Application-Oriented Programming with Python
This course provides important basic concepts for interdisciplinary programming projects with Python.
Students learn...

- how to encode a problem into a program, test the program, and correct errors.
- to understand and improve existing code.
- deal with the complexity of real data.
- store data in a suitable data structure.
- to implement models from the natural sciences as a simulation.
- run random experiments and interpret the results.
- explain and apply standard algorithms.
D-BIOL, D-HEST, D-USYS, D-ERDW, D-CHAB (Pharmacology), CAS Applied Information Technology
BSc, MSc, TC, TD
1200 students / year
Teaching Power:
2 experts