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HELP! I need to understand instructors better


Hi Computing Forum Group,


First, long time no chat. I haven't posted here in a while. We have some new people on our Cengage Computing team -- I'm sure you've all "met" Danielle! 


I have a few questions that I'd like to throw out to you all! The first is for IT/Neworking/Security instructors, the second is for Programming/Computer Science instructors. 


  1. For campuses who host and maintain their own VM environments on campus, how big of a cost is that? One instructor recently told me that his department spends almost $1M hosting and maintaining their own labs. Is that the average?

  2. If you require your students to use an IDE in your Computer Science course, how do you grade your students work? Whichever method that you use, does it take a lot of time to grade? How do you detect cheating? 

I'm really looking forward to hearing what you all have to say. Thank you!!! 


I'm sorry nobody has answered you yet.  I did not answer because I am so far removed from the purse holders that I have absolutely no idea about any of this.


I can make a minor input on 2.  All of our labs are done through TestOut LabSims.  We don't have any sort of IDE really.  Since the material is already developed for us, I don't actually grade any of it; it simply reports the student scores to Canvas automatically. 


I also don't really worry about cheaters.  I encourage group work for problem solving, which sometimes includes figuring out exactly what the LabSim is asking them to do.  The main form of cheating I see is when students simply use Google and then copy & paste an answer for something like an online discussion or for an essay.  


This is probably not very helpful to you, but it's all I've got.  I just couldn't let your wonderful post go unanswered!


Hello Cassie!

When you posted your question it was the end of spring semester and the start of summer, so I forgot to answer. Our students use Visual Studio for programming. They submit a program file that I grade by hand. It's sometimes difficult to detect cheating, because sometimes the programs are so small there is only one way to do them. But I do catch those students who don't change the name in the comments section. In other words, they leave another student's name in where their's should be. Also, if I get two programs that don't work and the code is the same, I know they are "working together".

And sometimes I required line by line commenting. When I do this, I can usually tell who is doing what and who really understands programming.


@Kelly_Hinson, how dare you put your students ahead of posting stuff in a blog forum?  Smiley Wink


@Kelly_Hinson @Stephen_J_Padilla Thank you both for your replies! I know it's a busy time for everyone, so no worries on the delayed reply! 


Kelly, would you ever be open to a phone call with me to walk me through this? When you say your students submit a program file, do you mean that they print it out and hand you a physical piece of paper to review? 


Of course I'll do a phone call with you. Students submit a program either in the .cpp file or a text file. I run and test every program.


Our programming courses follow a similar model. Students complete the program (and any other required materials, such as flow chart, spreadsheet of test data, etc), and submit a digital copy to the LMS (currently Blackboard). Instructors download and test programs, review documentation, etc. 

Cheating is discovered through time-tested observation methods including mistyped comments, unusual spacing, identical errors, other student's name left in, etc.


@HSchneider Thanks for your response! How long does it take you to download and test each students program? How many students are in your course? How long does it take you to test the programs of all students total?

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To answer question 1: I'm not sure how much it costs to host our environment on an ongoing basis. I find myself using a combination of solutions to get the job done. We were provided with a grant that allowed us to pay someone to create a web based in-house solution for the virtual environment which is a little limited but it works in situations where I'm not able install and use MS Server to house and work with the necessary VMs.