Editor’s Picks

GitHub Education Is Now Free For Classroom Use

By Henry Kronk
June 20, 2018

GitHub has made more than a couple headlines in June, mostly in regard to Microsoft’s $7.5 billion acquisition of the internet’s most popular code sharing platform. This week, the company announced that it would make GitHub Education, a suite of coding services, free for individual students and classroom use.

GitHub Education is comprised of the Student Developer Pack, a collection of developer tools to help onboard learners into the world of programming. It also includes GitHub Classroom, which helps teachers manage workflow with numerous learners, and further training via Campus Experts and Campus Advisors.

In addition, GitHub has thrown their Business Plan and GitHub Enterprise into the bundle.

‘Why,’ a reasonable person might ask, ‘would a student need access to the same services upon which startups and businesses rely?’

How Teachers Use GitHub Education

According to Vanessa Gennarelli, General Education Manager at GitHub, teachers are getting pretty creative with their projects.

We’ve worked with a lot of innovative high school teachers in the US,” Gennarelli said, “Mike Zamasky in New YorkGeoff Schmidt at Naperville North and Art Simon at Lowell High School.”

“Some high school teachers want to use GitHub but need a sense of mastery over Git first. That’s why we created Campus Advisors, which is included in the package.”

“At a district level, high schools have privacy and compliance needs, which we thought about with GitHub Enterprise.”

github education
Headway, Unsplash.

“Also we’ve heard from schools around the world that they are trying to do a lot with few resources, so getting access to free GitHub, at an administrator level, will help teachers instruct with the real thing, and students will have a consistent experience across the curriculum.”

Many learners continue to graduate high school without remote pushing a single git or even interacting with HTML. But that’s changing. Coding is beginning to become a mainstay of technology courses. It’s even beginning to enter the humanities.

 “One of my favorite examples is Keith O’Hara’s course at Bard College which teaches code as language as part of their orientation to the liberal arts,” Gennarelli said. “He also does a fair amount of offline activity to ground the concepts in metaphors students understand.”

“We’re seeing GitHub used in a range of courses and areas, from the library to statistics, biology, math, and computer science courses. Some of our education partners today, include Ubiqum Code Academy, St. Louis Community College, and the University of New Hampshire, Santa Barbara City College, to name a few others.”

Since GitHub Education launched in 2014, instructors have used it in over 10,000 courses. Learners have created 2 million+ repositories.

Business As Usual

Microsoft’s acquisition of the platform might raise concern for some. Tech giants like Apple, Google, and GitHub’s soon-to-be new parent company have been waging a turf war in U.S. classrooms for the past decade. It’s hardly science fiction to imagine issues of compliance might arise and cause a major headache for administrators and technology teachers. But Gennarelli is confident there won’t be any speed bumps or roadblocks.

“We will continue to be focused on and remain committed to delivering our product roadmap, which includes our commitment to the education sector,” she said. “Once the deal closes, GitHub will continue to retain its developer-first ethos and operate independently to provide an open platform for all developers in all industries.”

Cover Image: Brina Blum, Unsplash.