1 Polytechnic of Porto (PORTUGAL)
2 Universidade de Coimbra (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN18 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 8499-8508
ISBN: 978-84-09-02709-5
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2018.1981
Conference name: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2018
Location: Palma, Spain
The teaching of programming is essential for the development of computer applications and for evolution of technology. The assignments of the early programming courses usually present difficulties for students and need a very strong monitoring by the teacher because often students does not know if its work is correct until it is assessed.

In this context, virtual learning environment become a very important tool to teach (and learn) programming. One of these tools is VPL (Virtual Programming Lab) a plug-in of Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment). This tool allows to edit and execute programs, in a large range of languages, and enables automatic assessment and instantaneous feedback. VPL make some historic results about compilation and implementation of the proposed problems, tracking the student’s submissions.

To use this tool implies a paradigm shift, for the student but also, and mainly, for the teacher, because teacher must use much more time before activities, to prepare assignments, testing environment, and try validation. However, after assignments, less effort is required because the student do not need so much attention and is much easier to grade assignments.

The environment to use VPL requires some technical issues, like: install the plug-in, have a linux server to install jail server or allow access and configure firewalls.

It also necessary configure Moodle, register students, create groups and, of course, prepare assignments and case tests.

Some authors are researchers on the Up to University (Up2U) European project that addresses technology to reduce the gap between high schools and universities. One of the Work Packages is related with Real-Time educational processes that aim to identify tools and processes, as VPL, that allow students to submit their code and receive an immediate feedback.

In this paper we will present how VPL was introduced as a real-time programming learning tool on a discipline based on Java during the Informatics Engineering graduation of the Informatics Engineering Department from the School of Engineering of Polytechnic Porto (ISEP/P.PORTO).
Teaching programming, Virtual Programming Lab, EduScrum, automatic assessment, VLP activities, innovation, Up2U, education.