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C'est la Z

Github and Student Feedback

Beyond the CS specifics We've been primarily using three tools in our summer certification program.

  1. Zoom for video conferencing

  2. Slack for text based communicaiton

  3. GitHub for just about everything else

We use GitHub as a CMS - a place to share code and assignments as well as collect them. We're also playing with GitHub discussions although that's fallen somewhat to the wayside with Slack being preferred.

One of the choices I'm digging more than ever is GitHub Classroom for assignments. Recently GitHub added a feedback feature powered through what known as Pull Requests. You just have to check the "feedback" button when you create an assignment. I also set my notifications so I receive an email alert whenever a students submits anything.

Whenever a student updates an assignment or in Git parlance commits and pushes up a change, I get an email alert. The email includes:

  1. The repo where the change was made

  2. A brief message describing the most recent change

  3. A link the the students GitHub account

  4. A link to the actual change.

Clicking on the change and I get to a screen like this:

A summary of exactly what changed. I see lines that were deleted, lines that were added and lines that were modified. At the top I see the one line brief description which the student put in when making the commit. I can also easily navigate through their assignment both to see other parts of it as well as earlier versions.

If you scroll down the page there's a place you can leave a comment which will go to the student.

This all makes for a very quick and easy feedback mechanism. You can also go to the "pull request" section of the repo (link at the top of the repo page) where you can find all the comments.

All in all this provides a very quick and painless way of seeing what students are up to and a quick way to provide some feedback.

The only catch is that this only works when the students actively push changes up to GitHub. While this group of teachers have been great that's sometimes a challenge with high school or college students. Working on strategies to get this type of buy in from my first years in the Fall.

So, GitHub Classroom's feedback mechanism? A big win and more great work from the GitHub education team.

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