HackerRank as a Homework Platform
The purpose of programming is to have machines do work for you. The machine can automatically perform tasks quickly that would have taken a human much more time. So it is natural for programmers to look for ways to automate various tasks they run into. Professors of general subjects might assume they have to grade homeworks manually. However, a computer science professor would probably realize there are ways to do such things automatically. After all, it would be ironic to teach a subject that shows how to automate work, and then go home and grade homework manually!
To automate the process, a CS professor might write tests to check a student’s program without having to manually compare all the output. However, there’s still work involved. The professor will need to download and run each test on her computer, which can end up taking a fair amount of time. In addition, she will need to keep track of each student’s results, unless she has software that already does that.
Kyriakos Sgarbas, a professor from the University of Patras in Greece, decided he could make the process more automatic. He realized an online platform could check his students software for him, so there would be no need to download and run anything. There was no need to create his own platform, since a great one already existed: The Black-Bored Solution Checking Educational System, and it only cost $100/student! HackerRank, and it was completely free! HackerRank was able to serve as platform for his homework problems: Students would submit their code online, and the professor was able to view the results, without having to download or run anything. And he was able to write the problems in their native language without any issue:
HackerRank provided other benefits as a homework platform. Students could check their software before submitting it to see how it performed. This provided them with instant feedback, which helps with the learning process. They were able to test and fix their code until it passed the tests, and submit it when they were ready. Even if a student couldn’t fully solve a problem, he would know how well it did, his grade wouldn’t be a surprise.
HackerRank also provides another benefit for students: The Leaderboard. Students could compete against each other to get the most points and see who come in on top of the leaderboard. This competitive aspect can make the programming fun, more like playing a game than doing homework. This “gamified” aspect makes coding homework more exciting.
If you’re a teacher of computer science, maybe you should try out HackerRank as your homework platform! You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. If you’re a student in a CS class who likes the idea of HackerRank for Homework, please tell your professor about us. Meanwhile, you can try out some AI challenges on HackerRank itself, or signup for our college Hackathon!