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The Emergence of GitHub as a Collaborative Platform for Education

The Emergence of GitHub as a Collaborative Platform for Education

Our paper as presented at the 18th ACM conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW), Vancouver, BC, Canada, March 18th 2015.


Alexey Zagalsky

March 18, 2015

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  1. The Emergence of GitHub as a Collaborative Platform for Education

    Alexey Zagalsky, Joseph Feliciano, Margaret-Anne Storey, Yiyun Zhao, and Weiliang Wang 1 GitHub logos and images are owned by GitHub, inc. alexeyza.com/pdf/cscw15.pdf
  2. Developers are the Knowledge-Worker “Prototype” 2

  3. 3 “After just seven years on the net, GitHub now

    boasts almost 9 million registered users. Each month, about 20 million others visit without registering... GitHub is now among the top 100 most popular sites on earth.” [wired.com]
  4. GitHub is a social meeting place that supports communities of

    practice and fosters collaboration. 4
  5. 5 GitHub isn’t just for software development.

  6. 6 GitHub isn’t just for software development. It can be

    used for Education.
  7. We wanted to study How and Why educators use GitHub.

  8. Online research methods + literature review Interviews (15) Follow-up survey

    (15) 1st phase 2nd phase 3rd phase GitHub’s perspective 2nd phase 8
  9. Why educators use GitHub 9

  10. 10 Student Educator Course material Assignments Traditional LMS

  11. 11 Student Educator Course material Assignments Forum Website LMS 1

    LMS 2 (Actual) Traditional LMS Email
  12. 12 Student Educator Course material Assignments X Forum Website LMS

    1 LMS 2 (Actual) Traditional LMS Email
  13. 13 Student Educator Course material Assignments X X X X

    Forum Website LMS 1 LMS 2 (Actual) Traditional LMS Email
  14. “Some of [the material] is shared with the world, and

    some of it is shared with other instructors of other universities... We’re versioning all of it.” 14 Reuse and Sharing
  15. “I think the repository has something like 200 stars on

    GitHub right now and as far as I can tell most of those stars are from people who didn’t take the course.” 15 Reuse and Sharing
  16. “You really see the full history of how the document

    comes into being, including all the discussions, the former versions. I can monitor who’s active, working in certain teams, which is also handy, practical.” 16 Transparency of Activity
  17. “I will use the [student] logs as materials for discussion

    in class.” 17 Encourage Participation
  18. “This is very much what people use these days in

    [statistics], and so I actually consider it a completely valid pedagogical goal in and of itself.” 18 Industry Relevance
  19. GitHub can also be used as a portfolio showcasing the

    student’s work. 19 Industry Relevance
  20. Participants also mentioned the benefits of Ease of Use and

    Free Academic Licenses. 20 Incidental
  21. How educators use GitHub 21

  22. With course materials hosted on GitHub, students and educators were

    able to suggest course improvements by submitting an issue or a Pull- Request. 22 Hosting Course Material
  23. “Students have separate repositories, and it’s private so that people

    cannot see what they are working on.” “When you do a pull, you can see what the others in the seminar are doing. For example, a student wrote a python script, and others want to use it, so they can just grab it and use it.” 23 As a Submission Platform
  24. However... there are Challenges involved 24

  25. “... some documentation on best practices or some kind of

    shared knowledge base that would say here’s what so-and-so at UC Irvine is doing with GitHub.” 25 Need for Best Practices
  26. “To get the most out of GitHub, you need to

    understand Git... If you use it the right way it is simple, but somehow with Git you end up with conflicts, and if you don’t understand it, it’s magic.” 26 Barriers to Entry
  27. “Copyright is a big issue. For instance, we are working

    with a novel. In Canada, that novel is in the public domain so it can be accessed online, but not in the United States.” 27 External Restrictions
  28. “The thing that I think was missing... was more management

    for the administrator: assigning people to teams, assigning teams to repositories, finer grained permission control” 28 Large Scale Management
  29. Participants also mentioned lacking support for Additional Formats. 29 Incidental

  30. 30 Why How Challenges Reuse and sharing, Transparency of Activity,

    Encourage participation, Industry Relevance Hosting course material and as a Submission platform. Need for Best practices, Barriers to entry, External restrictions (copyright), Management
  31. Various educators use GitHub differently, and GitHub’s potential in the

    context of education is still emerging. 31 Our findings indicate...
  32. Implications beyond the tool 32

  33. The GitHub way supports the workflow, adds transparency, brings awareness,

    and promotes a culture of collaboration. GitHub for the rest of us by Jon Udell 33 The GitHub Way
  34. By using GitHub-like systems for education, we can speed-up adoption

    for other domains. 34
  35. Questions? @thechiselgroup, @alexeyzagalsky, @margaretstorey, @nfeli 35