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Title page for ETD etd-03282018-090401

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Broll, Brian Daniel
Author's Email Address brian.broll@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03282018-090401
Title Collaborative Educational Environment Design for Accessible Distributed Computing
Degree PhD
Department Computer Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Akos Ledeczi Committee Chair
Aniruddha Gokhale Committee Member
Corey Brady Committee Member
Gautam Biswas Committee Member
Jules White Committee Member
  • visual programming
  • computer science education
  • distributed programming
Date of Defense 2018-03-21
Availability unrestricted
The pervasiveness of distributed applications in everyday life has made distributed computing concepts become part of basic computer literacy. The dissertation presents the design of an educational environment for introducing distributed programming to secondary education. Three high-level abstractions are presented that enable young learners to build non-trivial distributed applications without obscuring the underlying distributed computing concepts. To expand the scope beyond web browser-based execution, capabilities for remote execution in alternative environments such as robotics platforms are also presented. Furthermore, collaborative editing can promote learning and productivity by allowing students to work in small teams but is unavailable in existing lively, blocks-based programming environments. A model of collaborative editing supporting visual programming environments is discussed. Version control support is beneficial for managing the complexity of applications but are often complex and difficult to use. A novel accessible version control for use in settings with minimal direct instruction is presented. Finally, empirical support is provided through three case studies using an implementation of the proposed educational environment design called NetsBlox.
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