Professors: New coding platform a must for higher-ed classrooms

Computer science profs say coding  a must for all students, just like reading and writing; help design new classroom platform.

codecon-coding-educationA new coding platform has a mission to elevate the state of coding education in higher-ed classrooms around the world; and one way it’s doing this is through professor buy-in.

Bloomberg’s CodeCon platform, which features new weekly challenges this summer, is a browser-based, e-learning platform that enables cloud-hosted programming contests and seeks to reshape the way people improve their coding skills. Contests are based largely on efficiency and problem solving. Participants are asked to write optimized code that solves problems with real-world applications within a specified amount of time and memory constraints while accounting for all possible test cases.

In partnership with the Standard C++ Foundation, students who rise to the top of the CodeCon’s competitions will have a chance to win an all expense paid trip to CppCon, the flagship C++ (a popular programming language) conference, in September.

But beyond competitions, CodeCon is proving to be a valuable asset in the higher-ed classroom as well, thanks to buy-in, and advice on design, from computer science professors.

(Next page: how CodeCon is changing coding in the classroom)

Coding’s importance in higher-ed

In computer science labs at many institutions, CodeCon has been praised for its quality in terms of its run time, limits, and memory conservation. Professors like Dr. Bina Ramamurthy, a computer science professor at SUNY Buffalo, have also worked closely with the CodeCon team in order to provide feedback on the platform and suggest new additions throughout the semester while it is used in class.

“Before CodeCon, students would go out and write their code, but there was no way to compare their work except for the final product,” she explained. “Students would use different machines with different power, and you wouldn’t know how much time they spent on it. Now with CodeCon, you can have a standardized environment where students are given feedback that allows them to strive towards making code better. It’s not just about completion. Students can now reach a quality not possible before… and have an engagement level that is quite astonishing.”

Ramamurthy also explained why the accessibility of CodeCon proves instrumental to many institutions.

“Coding is absolutely on the rise…but many schools may not have the tech or administrators [to facilitate that need],” said Ramamurthy. “But now teachers and students can access it from anywhere. Coding skills are important, perhaps as important as reading and writing, and are skills everyone should have as every field is seeing coding become important.”

“Designed for programmers by programmers”

Students enrolled in any college or university can log onto CodeCon this summer. Those who post the highest completion rate for a set of problems of varying difficulty within a limited timeframe will earn the opportunity to attend CppCon in Bellevue, Washington on an all expense paid trip this September.

The first of seven weekly challenges began on June 22.

“Competitions provide a lot of value because contestants can go back and wonder what they could have done different, and what they can do to improve and win moving forward,” said CodeCon creator Rangan Prabhakaran. “Many students have said the user interface was sleeker and it had a much better user experience than any other coding competition they had experienced. They said it seemed much more like it was designed for programmers by programmers.”

“Memory management is an important issue on many devices, and C++ is a language that can really help with that,” said Ramamurthy. “C++ is a gold standard for object orientation and memory management, so it’s very well-suited to being focused on in this competition.”

“The need for programmers is going up exponentially day by day,” said Prabhakaran. “It’s important that we provide students today with a platform that gives them instant feedback. If you can provide schools the right toolkit…the environment can be created to close the coding learning gap.”

For more on CodeCon and this summer’s C++ competition, click here.

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