Coding Skill importance for Education

Importance of programming for schools

The first programming language was created as old as in 1883. Since then programming or coding has been one of the most sought after field of study and work in the entire world.

 The programming languages have become an integral part of every person’s life. Almost every field or industry makes use of some sort of programming language. It has become a skill which is essential to be learnt not just for building career but also for the fact that it is interesting and fun for everyone including kids.

Considering this fact, the schools have been including basic programming languages such as C or C++ in the curriculum. Even the Education Ministry realized the importance of coding and decided to include coding lessons from as low as 6th grade in the new draft of National Education Policies.

Learning programming languages help the students to build a problem solving attitude, develop resilience, create a thought procedure and expand their creativity. It also helps to improve their mathematical and cognitive ability.

Importance of programming for higher education institutions

There are some educational institutions which have been conducting programming competitions for the students. These competitions could be among the students belonging to the same school or college or even on an inter-school or inter-collegiate level.

 Conducting such competitions is important for colleges as they encourage the students to study the programming languages with interest. Many of these competitions also give away exciting awards or prizes to the winners.

Programming languages play a key role in higher education as well. The curriculum of many different courses such as Bachelors and Masters in Computer Science or Bachelors and Masters in Computer Applications majorly focus on computer languages.

These courses are designed to teach students the programming languages from basic to advance. Thus, it is immensely important for them to conduct tests or assessments for testing the programming skills of the students.

The higher education institutes include programming exams during both theory and practical exams. While theory exams are given on paper, practicals are the exams wherein the students need to type the programs or codes on the system and compile them to obtain the necessary output.

Needless to say, practicals are important for both the students and the educational institutions. They are one of the best ways to make the students understand the importance of programming, not just for marks but also for their future.

Thus, the programming language competitions or assessments are one of the best ways to encourage the students to study these languages sincerely which in turn helps them to prepare themselves for a bright career.

Traditional way of conducting programming tests

The educational institutions have been conducting programming competitions or tests for a while now. Traditionally the tests were conducted in the schools/colleges either in the computer labs or classrooms.

If the test was held in the lab, the students were supposed to type the code and run it on the computers. The examiner would set the timer and once the time is up, check the code for any errors or loopholes.

They would then assign the marks manually and the student with the highest score would be declared as the winner in case of competitions. Even the tests held in the classroom followed similar process.

The students would write the code on the paper within the time provided and present it to the examiner. The calculation and assignment of marks was done manually by the faculty members and then the students’ performances would be gauged.

The traditional way of conducting competitions implied that the students who were competing against each other were supposed to sit together in one classroom and answer the programming questions. There was an increase in the manual efforts which had to be put in by the teachers or the administrative staff. 

Need for the switch to online mode of conducting programming tests

<> Increased cost investments

The educational institutes need to invest a lot of money on the infrastructure, facilities and other logistics. These institutes required to manage the invigilators for manual supervision. The traditional way thus brought about some extra expenses to be spent by the schools.

<> Dicey manual supervision

Manual or physical supervision is not necessarily the best way to monitor a large number of students sitting in the same room for a competition as it raises the chances of cheating or malpractices carried out by students.

The students might carry books or electronic devices while entering the classroom to copy the answers. They also could ask answers to other students which might go unnoticed by the invigilators.

Even if the test was held in a computer lab, the students might try to open other windows on the system provided to them. They could try to browse the answers and copy them directly.

The fact that scoring highest marks not only helps the students to receive gifts or prizes but also helps them to prove their mettle increases the possibility of cheating much more.

<> Painstaking manual evaluation

Programs or codes do require extreme level of concentration during evaluation as even a small thing such as a comma or semi-colon can create a huge difference. During the traditional way of conducting competitions or tests, the teachers/examiners evaluate the answers manually.

Imagine the time and efforts required to finish with the evaluation work if there are 1000+ students appearing for the test! Manual evaluation is indeed tedious and also requires a bit too much of manual efforts not only for evaluation purpose but also other tasks such as comparing the marks, analyzing the individual or group performance,  processing the results, declaring the names of highest scorers, etc.

<> Third party installation

Different programming languages have different requirements when it comes to system compatibility. The educational institutions need to install third party tools in every system so that the students would be able to use it conveniently.

Sometimes, this sort of third party requires paid licenses or license keys. It also requires device compatibility so that the installation process goes on smoothly. Each time a new tool needs to be installed, the teachers or technicians need to go through the entire process of installation which is very time–consuming.

Thus, we can see that the traditional way of conducting programming tests was time-consuming, strenuous, costly, insecure and unreliable. Due to this, there is a pressing need to find an alternative which would address all the shortcomings related to the classroom based programming assessments.

Advantages of conducting programming tests in online mode

As we have seen previously, the traditional classroom based assessments has many flaws were being overlooked until now. But the online platforms which help to conduct the competitive exams did consider everything and came up with an alternative solution.

They have developed a solution using which the programming competitions can be conducted in online mode. Let us see how these online examination platforms help to overcome the shortcomings of classroom based programming tests.

1. Location independence

The online exams, naturally, can be conducted from anywhere. The students do not need to visit the schools/ colleges or computer labs or any exam venue to participate. They can log into the available devices such as desktops, laptops, Ipads, mobile phones, etc. and launch the test.

They can participate from their own homes provided they have stable internet connectivity. This enables the educational institutes to get the flexibility of conducting the assessments anytime from anywhere.

2. Cost effective

Due to the freedom of location, the institute management does not need to focus on providing infrastructure or other facilities. They do not need to worry about providing supervisor for physical supervision either.

The costs spent of logistics such as question papers or answer sheets or any other documents and their storage is completely eliminated, thus reducing the investments further.

3. Exam security

The online exam platforms come with the most robust and unique techniques to put a stop to cheating and malpractices. Techniques such as remote proctoring, secure browser, audit logging, etc. help the educational institutes to monitor the students during the tests.

Some other AI based techniques such as facial recognition, object movement detection, background sound recognition, Chatbots, etc. additionally help to maintain the integrity of the assessments.

4. Automated Evaluation

The Automated Evaluation System is a dynamic tool which helps the examiners and the administrative staff to eliminate their manual efforts at a large extent.

System can evaluate code against predefined test cases. If those test cases are verified then system can assign evaluation marks for each successful test case output.

Other techniques used to grade the students include counting number of lines written in the code, time taken to compile, code efficiency, etc. The system not only can evaluate the answers, but it can also allot marks/grades.

5. Elimination of third party installation

The online platforms conducting programming tests can be easily operated by anyone. This means that they do not require any device compatibility or setup before launching the exams.

These platforms can run on any system and eliminates the need of third party installation completely. This helps to reduce the efforts of the teaching and administrative staff to a greater extent.

Clearly, conducting programming tests with the help of online platforms is much easier and secure. Adopting such an exam platform would indeed prove very much beneficial to all the educational institutions that need to conduct programming tests on a daily basis.

Final thoughts

Programming tests are an inseparable part of college curriculum. They help the colleges to assess a student’s technical knowledge and understanding of complex topics.

They help the students to measure their understanding about programming and the areas where they need to work on. With the help of these assessments, the students also get a practice of the process of hiring carried out by different organizations.

Such online exam platforms are very much functional as they help to create a question bank which could include questions related to different programming languages, difficulty levels, marking levels, etc.

Eklavvya is a software platform which helps to conduct such programming competitions with all the advantages and security. By making use of the best technology available, Eklavvya helps to digitize the programming tests to a perfect optimum level.

It ensures that its customers do not face any kind of issue related to simplicity of operating the tool, reliability and cost as well. As a result of this, Eklavvya has become an award winning platform with a very satisfied customer base.