Moodle’s new Virtual Programming Lab (VPL) module

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If you teach computer science and use Moodle as your LMS, good news: you can now have student submit snippets of code easily using the new Virtual Programming Lab created by ULPGC (University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain).  It was posted recently to the Moodle.org forum by  Juan Carlos Rodriguez-del-Pino [link].  According to Juan,

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VPL is an activity module to manage programming assignments providing the usual characteristics such as upload, download and view assignments, data backup and restore, grading, groups, access control based on roles, access logs, etc. adding also a large number of features tailored to the programming assignments. [link]

The module allows code editing within Moodle, running tests and more.  It appears that the main thrust of the module is also increasing the opportunities for learning within the Moodle classroom, as it pertains to code and software development,

The programming assignments of the early courses can present particular difficulties for the student and require frequent monitoring by the teacher. Often, until the work is assessed, students don’t know if it is correct or not. This mode of operation meets the evaluative aspect, but does not provide the student to learn from their mistakes, which lost a significant part of the learning potential associated with the making of an assignment. More over, the evaluation may require considerable time and effort by the teacher due to the number of students, the number of submits required and their complexity.

The availability of a teaching tool to facilitate monitoring and personalized guidance in a continuous learning process allows to reduce the initial difficulties faced by the student. For teachers, the possibility of automating much of the assessment allows them to perform other productive tasks [link].

The main website [http://vpl.dis.ulpgc.es/] has information in both Spanish and English and is a great resource for seeing what the module can do.  Demo the module at http://demovpl.dis.ulpgc.es/moodle/ or check out the screenshots of the module in action [http://vpl.dis.ulpgc.es/index.php/en/screenshots].

The module is currently awaiting approval in the Module and Plug-in repository: http://moodle.org/mod/data/view.php?id=6009

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