Prior to using Vocareum, I used to provide my feedback separately from the code submitted by a student. This was not only cumbersome for me as a teacher (having to explain each section of code to which I referred), it was likely not very useful to the student. I suspect that students rarely went back to find each section of code to review along with my comments.
In-line feedback – the ability to provide comments in the code itself – makes feedback much easier for students to digest. They see the mistake and they see my suggestions and input in the same place. And because the feedback is easier to give, teachers are likely to pass on more valuable input to students.
In the next blog post I will share some practical techniques for managing limited physical resources while continuing to effectively grow CS classes.