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Towards Building Your Own Autograder in NetsBlox

Brian Broll
December 11, 2020

Towards Building Your Own Autograder in NetsBlox

Autograding is a valuable mechanism for assessment which facilitates scaling a curriculum to a much broader audience. Perhaps the best example can be found in the case of massive open online courses through platforms like Coursera and edX. However, developing autograders for lively, blocks-based programming environments can pose a number of unique challenges. These include the lack of clearly defined start state, often visual program output, and required user-interaction. How can we automatically grade assignments in these sorts of environments? What types of assignments can be graded easily?

Brian Broll

December 11, 2020
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  1. Towards Building Your Own Autograder in NetsBlox Brian Broll

  2. Autograding in Snap! and NetsBlox • As the name suggests,

    autograders enable assignments to be automatically graded providing students with immediate feedback. • Environments like Scratch, Snap!, and NetsBlox have a unique set of challenges for autograding: ◦ Lack of clearly defined start state. What if I write a program to draw a square, run it, and then delete all the blocks and submit? ◦ Visual program output. How do I specify invariants easily? ◦ Required user interaction. What if user interaction is required (like in a game)? ◦ Diverse, open-ended projects. These environments have wide walls and students are often given a lot of freedom to create what is important and meaningful to them. How would this be autograded? ◦ Required network interaction (and custom protocols). In NetsBlox, student programs may compose a distributed application. This results in another dimension of considerations for autograding (esp. when combined with the aforementioned challenges).
  3. Building Your Own Autograder • What if we could build

    our own autograders for Snap! and NetsBlox and enable them via URL parameters (like opening projects)? • Autograders could be developed, shared, and remixed alongside curriculum (not tightly coupled with any educational platform!) • This could also facilitate MOOCs using Snap! and NetsBlox with more assessment options
  4. Demo

  5. Next Steps? • Feedback ◦ Give it a try here!

    ◦ Note: Since it is still experimental, things may change! • Extension support in Snap! so autograders can be used there, too? • There are many remaining opportunities around autograding: ◦ Can we grade more than just custom blocks? ▪ Distributed applications? ▪ Visual feedback? ▪ Interactive applications? ◦ Can we give feedback for partial solutions? ◦ Should we add support for submitting solutions to platforms like Coursera?
  6. Questions/Comments? Reach out at brian.broll@vanderbilt.edu Try it out at https://dev.netsblox.org

    Thank you!