Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava (SLOVAKIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Pages: 1809-1817
ISBN: 978-84-615-5563-5
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2012
Location: Valencia, Spain
Nowadays there is a common practice to use LCMS-type (Learning Content Management Systems) e-learning tools for course management, study materials creation, presentation, and management, as well as assignments and tests management. Most of the LCMS support only basic functions for assignments management like collection of students’ works with or without timing restrictions, manual grading and providing feedback, etc. The LCMS Moodle, one of the most widespread and favourite environments, belongs to this number. However, since it is an open source system the advanced assignments management can be implemented into it for example in the form of a new module.

The assignments management requirements in the course Digital system description provided at the Faculty of Informatics and Information Technologies, Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava exceed widely the basic functions. As the compulsory course it is attended by 50-100 students a year and the labs are fully based on the assignments. During the term each student is designing four digital system models in three HDLs (Hardware Description Languages) so the help in a form of automated solutions evaluation is highly required. For each assignment there are several versions that should be assigned to students so that each student in the same group will solve different problem. On the other hand the solutions should be checked for plagiarism attempts also across the groups. The automated evaluation should be combined with the solutions collection in a reliable way to prevent the possible capacity or throughput issues. Several sophisticated algorithms should be combined together to get the best possible results of automated solutions grading. These were the basic requirements that were followed during the advanced assignments management module development that will be presented in this contribution.

The implemented module can be easily incorporated into the LCMS Moodle and allows teacher to create and manage database of assignments divided into various categories, to assign them to students based on their group affiliation, and to archive all submissions and assignments created in system. The module automatically verifies plagiarism attempts using similarities detection method YAP3 (Yet Another Plague) and algorithm RKR-GST(Running Karp-Rabin Greedy String Tiling). The syntactic correctness of the solutions, as well as the simulation results are also verified using the external compiler and simulator. Currently, the automatic grading function is available only for assignments in VHDL but the rest of the functions supports other HDLs as well. The module is implemented in PHP and MySQL environment. The first experience showed that such an assignments management module can substantially ease the teachers work and save a lot of time in managing and grading process.
Assignments management, grading, automated evaluation, Moodle, VHDL.