The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Caesar Aims for Faster Feedback to MIT Students

An issue facing online education is students getting feedback on assignments and tests from instructors in a timely manner. The crowdsourcing system Caesar is providing a solution for some students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“The students in our programming courses write a lot of code and it takes a long time for a small staff of human graders to read and grade,” said MIT professor Rob Miller, who developed Caesar through the MIT computer science and artificial intelligence lab, in an article for eCampusNews. “The old way, it might take a few weeks to get feedback about what they’d written, and in that time they’ve written more programs—often repeating the same mistakes over and over.”

Caesar prioritizes submitted assignments and sends them to teaching assistants, course alumni, and computer-science students for review. Multiple reviewers are sent the assignments and all are able to offer comments and advice on the work, generally within three days and well before students have finished their next assignment.

The system is being expanded to other MIT programming courses and could be adopted by edX, the massive open online course platform founded by MIT and Harvard University. Miller also believes Caesar will work for more than just computer programming classes.

“The essential idea of crowdsourced review—dividing student work into smaller pieces and distributing those pieces to a mixed crowd of reviewers who comment on and discuss them—is likely to be applicable to many kinds of courses, including liberal arts, business, and social sciences, not just technical [courses],” he said. 

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