G. Averna, B. Lenzitti, D. Tegolo

University of Palermo (ITALY)
In the studies for methods of coding, students have a great problem for understanding how to solve and to develop an algorithm in a rational way. This paper introduces the kernel of a framework able to running in the web space and useful to integrate a number of collaborative contexts for teaching and learning in a workroom hosted in different academic sites. This framework is in accordance to a blended approach in which students and teacher are cooperating to.

Coding or programming is very important for many tasks and this is true not only in the computer science area. A number of skills have to be acquired before to have a high familiarity degree with this science. The expertise on how to solve and to develop algorithms are the most difficulties for students in whatever age. In the last decade, a set of tools, based on flow chart representation of algorithms, have been developed to support teaching and learning such as: Scratch, Raptor, ect. These tools have different characteristics, someone are devoted to desktop applications others to the web, other ones are stand-alone, others can be used in a sharing approach. This paper introduces the kernel of a framework, supported by different devices and browsers, which is useful to teach and learn in a collaborative workroom and in different sites.

The framework is a tool to teach and learn the art of programming. It uses a set of visual objects to define the owner program, and to understand how to solve and develop the owner algorithms. Firstly, it works in a collaborative way and with a distributed approach. Therefore, while a user creates a collection of visual objects, the system develops a text code and its association, so all parts of the diagram will be associated to a text code. A person, normally a teacher, will handled the framework in order to create a sequence of visual instructions or objects. Moreover, the teacher is able to define which students have to be windowed on the web and able to follow the activities. From the student viewpoint, it can link owner job to the web application framework, it can see its and others changes in the web workroom in real time and in interact way. From the teacher landscape, it can define the modality of any lesson: traditional, collaborative, associative, and it can register the student on each classes. Therefore, the kernel has several desirable features: concreteness, immediacy, clarity, visual feedback, easy to use, easy to e-learning, thus real applications can be developed using it. Html5, Css, Javascript, Php and Apache have been used to develop the kernel, whereas Node.js, Express.js and Socket.io for the communication. Therefore, it can be defined such an Open Source application.

This framework will join several proprieties for e-learning in a workroom approach, it works in collaborative and associative way, and it is useful for lessons, exercises and exams, too. The web technologies allow to assign several exercises to students and teacher can see what the students are developing or collaborating.

[1] N. Kiesler, Teaching Programming 201 with Visual Code Blocks Instead of VI, Eclipse or Visual Studio - experiences and potential use cases for higher education, Proc. of EDULEARN’16, July 04-06, 2016 - Barcellona, Spain
[2] M.C. Carlisle, T.A. Wilson, J.W. Humphries, S.M. Hadfield, RAPTOR: introducing programming to non-majors with flowcharts, Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges, April 2004, Vol. 19 (4).