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Python-Based Homework Delivery System in Engineering Courses
Current online educational systems rely heavily on professor-student feedback and manual supervised grading. This fact can cause mistrust and validation issues due to, for example, delayed return of assignments (e.g., tests and homework), difficulty in grading, incomplete justification of grades, and inadequate student feedback. As a result, students have limited time to review the proper solution of the assignments and to learn from their mistakes. In addition, course improvement for subsequent semesters becomes cumbersome, due to both limited time and information available. To address these issues, this paper proposes the use of an integrated Python-based homework delivery system that utilizes the Jupyter-Notebook framework. Jupyter-Notebook, is an interactive, Python based, educational framework that can be an effective paper-replacement tool for homework delivery and can help address many of the above-mentioned concerns. Jupyter-Notebook, being written in Python, is fully accessible through simple Python scripting, and may provide real-time feedback for both students and instructors. This capability of the framework allows students to be constantly aware of their performance regarding the learning objectives, while at the same time, it helps them identify areas that require more attention. This framework also gives the instructor a new level of control over their course. Instructors can access the information the students submit by processing the Jupyter-Notebooks and they can easily identify both the areas that students are performing well and the areas that students seem to be lacking understanding. Another useful key feature of the Jupyter-Notebook framework is the ability it provides to easily modify and improve the version of the homework being used. Finally, the fact that Jupyter-Notebooks are open-source and free make them ideal for educational purposes. These features make Jupyter-Notebook an effective educational tool for learning in both large classrooms and online courses, and with this tool at their disposal, students can reach a new level of learning and understanding. This paper will present a pilot application of the proposed Python-based homework delivery system in an online Gas Dynamics course. The development and use of the Jupyter-Notebook based homework will be presented and insights from the pilot use of this framework will be discussed. Finally, a method of course evaluation and improvement using data mining will be outlined.