On-Demand Student Support with Virtual Labs and Help Desk

2Lead

Ramon Lawrence, Associate Professor, Computer Science, Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences (UBC Okanagan)

Collaborators

  • Bowen Hui, Instructor, Computer Science, Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences (UBC Okanagan)
  • Abdallah Mohamed, Instructor, Computer Science, Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences (UBC Okanagan)

Summary

Computer labs are where students learn the key skills of problem solving, programming, and design. Most computer science courses have a lab section allowing students to practice concepts on practical problems. Unfortunately, lab attendance decreases substantially after 2nd year, which results in fewer students completing the learning objectives and inefficiencies with lab space and teaching assistant resources. Learning is achieved not by the computers in the lab, but by the interactions with fellow students and instructors. The goal is to develop a platform that allows the learning objectives to be achieved using virtual labs that can be done at the student’s convenience while providing on-demand support at various times. Virtual labs have the potential to increase student engagement and performance by allowing completion at their own schedules. The use of a virtual lab and help desk will be evaluated in several upper year computer science courses and may be deployed to others if successful.