Students Make Their Own Blackboard Attendance Checking Program
Department of Computer Science students create an attendance program for fellow students
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Nowadays, most routine activities are performed in the safety of each member’s house, and since Hanyang University has also been conducting most lectures online, the Blackboard system has never been more useful before. However, the students have been voicing inconvenience that rose from the inability to check the lecture-completion rate of different courses all at once. In order to check for attendance, students have to visit each web page for the courses separately. Recently, some students decided to take matters into their own hands, creating a comprehensive attendance-checking program for their fellow students.
The initial creation of the program by Kim Hwan-hee
Kim Hwan-hee (Department of Computer Science, 1st year) noticed the inconvenience the attendance system brought to students and was the first to come up with the idea of creating a Blackboard attendance-checking program. Kim said, “It is an automated program with which you can check your attendance for all courses at one go. First of its kind, it has an auto-login feature with a simple screen showing your progress with the names of the online lecture.”
“It was my first time making a web program. The computer language was hard to understand, which called for a lot of researching through many documents.” Kim added that, “There was a reported issue where the program would shut down unexpectedly, and it was later found that it occurred when the user’s password had not been changed for more than six months. That was a wake-up call for me, as it reminded me that we need more awareness for online security.”
After making the program, Kim shared the program through the student website. “I believe that when knowledge is shared, it can be improved. I am happy to see that many students are now able to check their attendance with ease," Kim said. “There was even an inquiry from one of the user's sibling who attends a different school but also uses the Blackboard system. They wanted to know whether the program was compatible for their university as well." Although unfortunately, the website’s structure was incompatible with Kim's program, Kim explained that he was glad to see that his program proved convenient. He added that he was also glad that his invention sparked up a number of following creations of better and refined programs by his seniors.
Improvement in the user interface by Kim Hyeon-su
One of them was made by Kim Hyeon-su (Department of Computer Science, 2nd year), who aimed to refine the previous attendance checking program. His version incorporated an intuitive user interface in which the unfinished lectures would be highlighted in yellow and the finished ones in green.
Kim employed Wireshark, a free and open-source network analyzer which enables a user to read a website’s communicative behavior. “In order to automate attendance verification, I had to analyze the source code of Blackboard and see which communications were being made within the server. I used Wireshark to collect the data and, through later programming, created a program that could imitate the communications made between a student’s web browser and the Blackboard servers.” Moreover, to deal with complicated tasks, such as logging in to the program with a Blackboard account, Kim used the Chrome Extension as a basis of the program, using its features to make it behave as an application rather than a distinct software.
"There were some bugs in the program though," explained Kim. “Some finished assignments would be indicated as “graded” while other ones would not even show up. I would not have been able to find these bugs alone as my account had never shown such symptoms.” Luckily, users actively reported the problem, allowing Kim to complement the program.
Another follow-up development by Ku Gun-mo
Ku Gun-mo (Department of Computer Science, 1st year) was also one of the students who made a follow-up development of the attendance-checking program. “The initial program was made by a colleague of mine,” said Ku, referring to the initial creator, Kim Hwan-hee. "I thought his program reflected the needs of the students, but also saw some places where I could make an improvement.”
Ku pointed out that the installation process and the speed of the program were things he wanted to improve the most. “I thought about how I could make a quality change for the program and then I came up with the utilization of Chrome Extension.” However, Ku said he found out the identical method had been discovered by Kim Hyeon-su and had been uploaded for open distribution. “It was two days after the very first program had been uploaded that my program was completed. However, only a few hours prior to my upload, someone else had used the same method and posted the program.” said Ku. “I felt like I had lost the race by an inch.”
Notwithstanding, Ku said that he was still happy to see many students utilizing his program. “The attendance-checking was a small inconvenience, but the students were feeling that small discomfort every day. It was a simple program that could fix it. I am very proud that my contribution has helped my fellow students of Hanyang."
Lee Yoon-seo email@example.com
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