Tools that combine the approaches of real-time collaboration documents, code playgrounds, and computational notebooks are still in their infancy.

Abstract

Codestrate Packages: An Alternative to “One-Size-Fits-All” Software

Programming assignments in computer science courses are often processed in pairs or groups of students. While working together, students face several shortcomings in today's software: The lack of real-time collaboration capabilities, the setup time of the development environment, and the use of different devices or operating systems can hamper students when working together on assignments. Text processing platforms like Google Docs solve these problems for the writing process of prose text, and computational notebooks like Google Colaboratory for data analysis tasks. However, none of these platforms allows users to implement interactive applications. We deployed a web-based literate programming system for three months during an introductory course on application development to explore how collaborative programming practices unfold and how the structure of computational notebooks affect the development. During the course, pairs of students solved weekly programming assignments. We analyzed data from weekly questionnaires, three focus groups with students and teaching assistants, and keystroke-level log data to facilitate the understanding of the subtleties of collaborative programming with computational notebooks. Findings reveal that there are distinct collaboration patterns; the preferred collaboration pattern varied between pairs and even varied within pairs over the course of three months. Recognizing these distinct collaboration patterns can help to design future computational notebooks for collaborative programming assignments.

Time Frame
2018

Context
Master’s Thesis

Collaborators
Johannes Zagermann
Roman Rädle
Clemens N. Klokmose
Harald Reiterer

Keywords
Computational Notebooks, Collaborative Programming, Application Development, Programming Assignments

Publications

Marcel Borowski, Johannes Zagermann, Clemens N. Klokmose, Harald Reiterer, and Roman Rädle. 2020. Exploring the Benefits and Barriers of Using Computational Notebooks for Collaborative Programming Assignments. In Proceedings of the 51st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE '20). DOI: 10.1145/3328778.3366887

Marcel Borowski. 2018. Codestrate Packages: Design and Evaluation of a Package-Based Development Environment. Master Thesis at the University of Konstanz.

Media

Conference presentation of the SIGCSE 2020 paper:

Overview of the prototype: