What options do educators and their institutions have on exercism? In what way can they collaborate other than being a community member?
The needs of educators that wish to support their students with the power of exercism include:
-a separate track tailored for their courses that doesn’t get overwritten by others
-being able to distinguish between their students and others participants
I am sure there are many other “wants” we can think of, but controlling what students face is the major “need to have”.
Thanks for creating this supportive environment,
As a maintainer of the C++ syllabus, I would like to know who would tailor these “special tracks” for the educators and why they would not rather contribute to the existing tracks if they have comments.
An educator/institution sets a specific set of goals for the students. You can look at it as a “contract” between these parties where the educator must provide guidance toward and test if the student reached those goals. In order for the educator to be able to guarantee that, he has to have full, undivided authorship over the exercises since any other party changing an exercise or the set of exercises might compromise that guarantee.
Of course, there are other ways to work toward that guarantee but what I am saying is that this is a major principle that educators look for when they are beholden by a “contract” of any kind.
As Andras mentioned, the yet-to-return teams edition covers that kind of scenario: Exercism Teams Edition | Exercism's Docs
Who can/must maintain those special tracks? Only the educators (of that institution).
Those exercises might very well be exercices featured in other tracks as well, so in that way, special track exercices would contribute to the existing tracks as well.
Could those special tracks be restricted to a handpicked list of existing publicly maintained exercises? For some situations that might be enough, but I would argue that in most cases it’s not.
I get your point, but I cannot see any of the educators of my past studies wrestle the exercism system for the purpose of building a complete syllabus parallel to the existing one.
It is quite the learning curve and a real time commitment. In my uni courses we used books by other writers, why wouldn’t the original exercism content be used like that?
Maybe I am missing your point but isn’t what you are saying akin to “we already have one track/syllabus/course, why doesn’t everyone use that?” Or am I missing the point?
I think we can agree that exercism brings a new kind of learning tools to the table that can improve many of the past courses/syllabi, including mine. And yes, some of the now available exercism content could be used in those courses.
But courses are constructed with specific content along a specific path and that guided learning path doesn’t always match the intended path in exercism.org. Or in any other course for that matter. Hence the multitude of courses, syllabi, … Hence the need to craft a specific track.
Exercism isn’t simply not set up like that. For starters, there are no private tracks. The best you could do I think is have an unlaunched track which only Exercism maintainers and staff can see and interact with. So your students would need to be maintainers, which means they can also change your track code.
But suppose you do have an unlaunched track. The educator can port the practice exercises they want from our canonical problem-specifications repo (GitHub - exercism/problem-specifications: Shared metadata for exercism exercises.). If they’re expecting students to use Exercism’s web editor, the educator now needs to develop a Docker test runner image to run submissions. So you can reinvent the wheel and port the practice exercises in multiple languages, but the test runner needs to be able to run those languages and then be able to choose dynamically based on the contents of the test suite or the student’s solutions. It won’t know what language the solution should be.
You’d also lose syntax highlighting in the web editor and community solutions since those are configured at the website and track level. respectively.
That is pretty much what I am saying. In school, we had books written by people who were not our teachers. They would use them in their curriculum and guide us to read certain parts and do certain exercises. Sometimes from different sources. In university, we had the same principle.
So if educator X would like to teach language Y with Exercism and they are not happy with the exercises or the concepts, they could just use a different source for that part of their agenda, or - and that is important - help to improve that part of the track. Exercism is an open-source platform.
If they think that the “12 days of Christmas song” exercise is abused by their student, they can suggest changes to the test runner.
If the concept for headers is lacking in their opinion, they can suggest improvements. And the best thing is, that everyone else would also get these improvements.
I get all your “able to track students” requirements, but “every educator needs a special track that is vastly different to the existing ones or tracks that other educators would need” seems very strange to me. Sure, many parts of Exercism might need improvement, but I don’t see the benefit for the sites when every educator tries to reinvent the wheel. Working together seems so much more productive.