Connectwise: “I picked this because I wanted a software oriented project that would let me develop skills I can use to find an internship for the summer, and web development in the future.”
Achintya K, Class of 2022
To design and develop a software system that supports remote tutoring for EGR 103: Computational Methods. Using the ConnectWise Control platform as the basis, this system should enable tutors to remotely see and provide assistance for homework that is completed on a computer.
Nowadays, most student’s work is done in the virtual realm: homework, projects, and programming are often assigned and completed online. While the nature of work is changing, students still need help in completing work. When stuck on problems or projects either late at night or far away from professors/Teaching Assistants, students may find it difficult to receive the help they need, when they need it. Current technologies allowing others to take control of primary computers to exist, but have not yet been harnessed for the power of one-on-one academic help, virtually. Specifically, Connectwise--a software company based in Raleigh--has a product which allows you remotely control devices from anywhere. A team of students was tasked with creating a virtual system capable of remotely connecting Teaching Assistants and students who need help, using ConnectWise’s current technology.
As with every project, the team started with research. The team attempted to completely understand how the software for ConnectWise worked. Through some prototyping and learning several different relevant skills, the team was able to create a final solution in the form of a website.
The website solution used the ConnectWise API, which is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. Essentially, it is a framework of code often used in building applications which implement Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs). This API was matched with a unique algorithm the team programmed and a mySQL database.
“Our website basically gave users criteria to choose from and we would weigh those criteria and try to find tutors from the mySQL database that best matched those criteria,” says Harry X. This was the main, newly engineered aspect of the team’s solution: a custom algorithm that matched students with tutors, tailored exactly to their needs.
One of the biggest obstacles the team faced was trying to integrate all the moving components in the project. Since the backend algorithm, API, and database were all worked on separately, integration proved to be a challenge. Their mentors, however, came to the rescue of the team. “Our mentors really helped us in figuring out what order we should address various issues that came up during the project [including integration], and really helped in fostering good team dynamics,” recounts Harry.
In the future, the team hopes to fully implement their website solution in the Duke education system. Thomas hopes the application of his team’s project will “make remote tutoring accessible to any student who needs help with a subject on campus.”