Earlier today I was reminded why I love GitHub in support of my classes. One of my students posted a question about our current lab. They posted a synopsis of the problem along with the error message.
Since we're all working on GitHub the student's work was already up online Since I started using GitHub Classroom I was able to quickly navigate to the repo. This might have been enough but to really in to the students work I cloned the repo and went into Emacs. Using Magit, Emacs's Git interface I was quickly able to navigate the project and also see recent changes or in fact any changes to any of the student's project files. I didn't use it this time but Git Timemachine gives an even slicker way to see the history of changes for a specific file.
With these tools it took almost no time to get the lay of the land and figure out where the student hit the wall. From there I posted a hint to nudge the student in the right direction.
GitHub classroom makes the student repo management easy but the other tools were just plain old Git and Emacs.
Of course, for this to work, students have to play their part. If a student doesn't push their changes regularly up to GitHub I won't be able to see the diffs and help. When they do, it's a real world tool that once again has proven to be great at supporting education.