In 2020 we reached an important milestone of serving more than a million active learners on our platform. As you get started with creating your new courses and labs on Vocareum, here is an update of all the new features and capabilities that we have implemented on the platform in the second half of 2020. We will be sending updates with more details about each of the items in the list.
Vocareum Elite. We have been working on eventually replacing "Vocareum Standard" with the labtype "Vocareum Elite". The big difference is that it has three column presentation and you can present the instructions in the right hand column to the learner while they work in the console. You also have a lot finer control on the layout and controls presented in the IDE.
Azure Labs. We added support for delivering budget- and policy-constrained lab environments for users to learn Azure services.
Multiple-Choice (MCQ) Assessments. This new feature allows you to mix and match MCQ with other assessments already supported - autograded, manual, peer, and leaderboard.
Learner Analytics. Visit "Analytics=>Assignments" to review aggregated data on submissions, scores, and time spent for each activity.
Budgeting. We are providing more controls on budgeting for a given assignment or lab. You are able to set learner limits based on time and/or spend ($) on a monthly or total basis. This is for cloud (AWS, Azure) and VM Labs.
Embedded feedback in Jupyter Notebooks. Our Jupyter Notebook now embeds nbgrader feedback right in the "Autograder" cell. Now the learners do not have to open grading report to see the automated feedback from the autograded cells.
Virtual Machine - Persistent home directory. For virtual machines, we now will save the content of the home directory when the lab is terminated and restore it upon launch.
REST API. Our APIs continue to be expanded. The primary goal is to help with content management. If you are developing your lab content outside of Vocareum in a git repo, for example, you can use the API to update the content as well as deploy it in clones.
Assignment Grouping. We deployed a new "group" feature in our classes. Now you can logically combine assignments in groups so that you do not need to manage a flat list of assignments. This only applies to the teacher view.
Autograding in Docker Containers. Our docker containers now completely support all autograding features. Our container image "Ubuntu 1804" is being used to teach software engineering and devops and we are maintaining a large set of related tools, including jenkins, git, visual studio, etc.
Lab Status: For our cloud, VM, and container labs now you can go to the "Lab Status" tab and there is a detailed report on each lab sessions that were started for the course.
Part Configuration Redesign: We have redesigned the part configuration user interface. Over the years, we have added a lot of flexibility to our lab definition like being able to set budgets for cloud, VM, and container lab. You can also add a database with a click of a button on your Jupyter Notebook or R Studio lab. We are hoping this new design would help you navigate all the different configuration options a bit easier.
Bring Your Own Cloud Accounts. In the next few weeks, we will be ready to help manage your cloud accounts for use in learner environments.
The two major expansion for our labs in 2021 are going to be providing the security and architecture for deploying commercial software labs as well as simulation based labs. We will deploy game engine based simulation labs to support virtual labs which need to simulate physical world. Please let us know if you would like to hear more about it or have a specific need for such a solution.