Article: Degree in ICT - Capstone project

Published: Title: Degree in ICT - Capstone project

After high school I did a certficate and later the Degree in ICT at what was known at the time Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technolgy (CPIT) a very well regarded polytechnic. As part of the degree we all did some sort of capstone project. For me, I was in the software development pathway so I wrote code.

At the time I had been helping others with their course work via Peer support (one on one and group) and one of the areas I wanted to help improve was having a web service that actually fitted teaching methodologies. In New Zealand we have basically standardised upon Moodle (unfortunately). One of the problems when it comes to systems like Moodle is that they are not very opinionated. But here is the thing about these services. They are meant to help both students and educators to teach and inform students. Quite often they can be a pain and don't by themselves pay for their usage. More often than not, they are used as a cloud storage mechanism, nothing more. You could quite literaly implement this using only web+email systems; without major rework of teaching processes.

Of course with this direction in mind, I got to work proposing and started doing some informal research as the term began. Most other people worked with companies in industry, I instead went with an internal project. What I discovered was my previous knowledge didn't quite cover everything you had to take into account. Plagerism, assignments, feedback and most importantly feedback (no really very important!); was actually the biggest concern of everyone including students. So here is the thing, educators wanted feedback of how people are doing, they wanted to know more of what people are struggling with, no matter what it was! Students wanted to be able to tell educators and administrators what was bad about subjects. This was all made very clear to both myself and my supervisor that this is probably the biggest challenge any software meant to help education would have following a survey (online).

So, how do we communicate? That is a good question, I of course came up with a few areas that needed work done.

  • Repositories for submissions, version controlled.
  • Automatic analysis of assignments e.g. how was your grammer? How could it be improved?
Small list? Not really, repositories require group versus single person understanding. Automatic analysis requires not only the analysis itself but also the content which explains how to improve. Given N languages, that is a very large number of items to cover. From simple nouns to complex grammer that only the most dedicated English major may know.

All in all, I passed with a good grade. It was a complex and hard project, but with the right methodologies and documentation I managed to produce work that could be used later on in life.