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And another term begins…

without comments

I’d like to start by thanking the summer students for their hard work.  I’ve been working with the new version, and I can definitely see the improvements.  I’d also like to welcome the new students who will be working on MarkUs this term.  While I was setting up the DrProject account, I realized that at least 36 people have been affiliated with the project over the last two years!

Now it is time to start planning what everyone will be working on this fall.  There are some smaller things that I’d like to work on, as well as some larger projects.


Dina made a start this summer with some work on a dashboard. I’d like to take this in a bigger direction and start to look at reporting on a bigger scale.  All three types of users could use better information about grades, annotations, and submissions.

For students, I’d like the option of showing them a histogram of the grade distribution, and possibly other information like how many students have already submitted something.

For TAs it would be useful to see the progress that other TAs are making and even see more useful information about their own progress.

For the instructors there is a whole range of data that I’d like to be able to at least download, if not also see a nice representation online.  This includes information on grades (mean, mode, median, distribution, for rubric criteria, or for all assignments), on submissions (essentially svn repository activity, but also summary information across assignments), on graders (number of annotations applied, average grade given, grade distribution), and on annotations (number of each given, students who receive annotations).

It would be nice to be able to choose what gets displayed to the students and what kind of report can be generated, or downloaded.

Testing Framework

Benjamin and Diane made a great start on the test framework this summer. The next steps are to see if we can fit an actual assignment and tests into this framework. I would personally like to see how we can fit some C exercises into the framework, but even getting something more realistic in there for Java would be interesting.

There are two big pieces to work on.  One is displaying the results to the student and collecting the results for the instructor/TA.  The output of the tests will have to pass through some kind of filter so that the instructor can choose what information gets back to the students.

The other big piece is on the security side.  An intermediate step is to run the student’s code as a different user on the server, but while this protects the web server and applications from corruptions (mostly), it doesn’t prevent a malicious user from getting at data he or she is not supposed to have, like the test code or the test infrastructure code.  The ultimate goal is to run the student’s code inside a locked down VM.  We have to lock down a VM and  figure out a protocol for transferring data from MarkUs to the VM and back.

Remark Requests

I haven’t thought about this one enough, but it would be nice to integrate remark requests into MarkUs.  This might turn out to be a medium size project because it would involve creating a new tab in the grader view for the student to write make their case.  We might allow students to add annotations.  Then the marking status of the student’s work would change so the instructor can see that a remark has been requested.  (I’m a little worried about making it too easy to request remarks.)

Then there are a bunch of small things:

I’d like to be able to assume the role of a particular student or TA.  I’d also like to be able to change the role of a user (e.g. promote a TA to admin, or student to TA).

We need to be able to delete assignments and possibly users.

A repeated pattern for late penalties.

I’d like to take more of a look at the Grader UI again to see if we can improve things.  For example, it would be nice to make it clear when a rubric element has been graded or is still left to be graded.


I’m always open to suggestions. We aren’t going to implement all the suggested features, but we do want to keep MarkUs usable.

Written by Karen Reid

September 17th, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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