USING WEB-BASED NOTEBOOKS FOR BLENDED-LEARNING IN COMPUTER SCIENCE
Technische Hochschule Nürnberg (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:Today, e-learning plays a vital role in many businesses and educational institutions. A wide variety of tools exists to prepare, manage and publish engaging and interactive learning resources. Even though almost all academic institutions have initiatives to support blended learning, the actual adoption on the course level is still rather low. One of the reasons is that the preparation of online course material is very time-consuming for the instructor. To provide an e-learning module, a lecturer has to do both: learn the functionalities of the e-learning platform and adapt the content to new concepts. Thus, the usability of the tool from the lecturers perspective and its fitness for the specific topic is critical for a wider application in university courses.
Independent from e-learning and instead motivated by an increased need to interactively work with data, a new kind of data analytics tools has emerged in the last years. The tasks of data scientists and analysts involve a mixture of scientific programming, data exploration, experimentation as well as the preparation of visualizations and the sharing of results. In the end it's all about developing a story to explain not only the final results but also the principles behind. This is very similar to what a lecturer has to do in class. Thus, web-based notebook tools like Jupyter and Apache Zeppelin which were designed for data science also have a great potential to support teaching. A notebook is a document consisting of a set of notes, similar to sections. Each note has a certain type: It can contain either executable code in one of many programming languages or some kind of documentation visualization. The main advantage of these tools is their ease of use. Writing a teaching module to explain some kind of programming, a mathematical or a technical concept with interactive examples, visualizations and exercises is as simple as preparing a word document for the same didactic purpose.
The article discusses the concept of web-based notebooks in general and of Apache Zeppelin in particular in the context of higher-level education. It focuses on courses on databases, programming and statistics, as these reflect the areas these tools are made for. However, their use is not limited to those topics. Prototypical training modules which already have been used in class show the great potential and current limitations of the notebook concept.
Keywords: Blended Learning, Notebook, Apache Zeppelin, Jupyter.