Here’s my tested plan for using git and github to manage student assignments for my upcoming course.
Initial setup as the instructor:
We’re going to create a student repo and an instructor fork for each assignment. The motivation for separating assignments is to ensure that the diffs that students are submitting for their solutions are tidy. In my case, there’s not much shared code between assignments
Create public* repo that students will see:
If you try to fork this on Github, it will tell you that you already have a fork. So instead trick github into forking it via the github importer, import
test-gp-hw0-student as a private
test-gp-hw0-instructor. Now you have two repos. We’ll set up a branch on
test-gp-hw0-instructor to track
test-gp-hw0-student for easy merging:
INSTRUCTOR_REPO=test-gp-hw0-instructor STUDENT_REPO=test-gp-hw0-student git clone https://github.com/alecjacobson/$INSTRUCTOR_REPO.git cd $INSTRUCTOR_REPO git remote add student https://github.com/alecjacobson/$STUDENT_REPO.git git fetch student git checkout -b student-tracker --track student/master git checkout master cd ..
To test this out, let’s create a file visible to everyone (students and instructors) in the student repo:
git clone https://github.com/alecjacobson/$STUDENT_REPO.git cd $STUDENT_REPO echo "visible to everyone" >> hello-everyone.md git add hello-everyone.md git commit -m "add file visible to everyone" hello-everyone.md git push cd ../
Now, let’s merge change into the instructor repo
cd $INSTRUCTOR_REPO git checkout master git pull student master cat hello-everyone.md cd ..
Just to be thorough, let’s try the reverse: creating a file just visible to instructors:
cd $INSTRUCTOR_REPO echo "visible to just instructors" >> hello-instructors.md git add hello-instructors.md git commit -m "add file visible to just instructors" hello-instructors.md git push cd ..
Getting assignment and handing in assignment as the (dummy) student
Open an incognito/private window and create a new github account for a fake student (pro tip: gmail lets you put dots anywhere in your email address so that firstname.lastname@example.org redirects to email@example.com, but most websites don’t recognize that these are the same). My fake students name is
Clone the repository and try to access the instructor repo (assuming the url was leaked):
git clone https://firstname.lastname@example.org/stewartdent/$STUDENT_REPO.git stewartdent cd stewartdent git remote add instructor https://email@example.com/alecjacobson/$INSTRUCTOR_REPO.git git fetch instructor
You should see an error:
remote: Repository not found. fatal: repository 'https://firstname.lastname@example.org/alecjacobson/test-gp-hw0-instructor.git/' not found
Now, let’s act as the student to submit the homework
# cd stewartdent echo "stewartdent was here" >> assignment-01.md git add assignment-01.md git commit -m "Stewart Dent's Assignment 01 submission" assignment-01.md git push cd ..
The student has pushed their submission onto their own repo. They can continue to work on it using git in all its glory. When they’re down they “hand in” their homework via a pull request onto the public
test-gp-hw0-student repo. The student does this by visiting the Github page for their own fork of
test-gp-hw0-student and clicking “New Pull Request”.
Grading as the instructor
The instructor can now grade this. I’m imagining that the
test-gp-hw0-instructor repo has a solution that can be compared (in some way or another) to the students work. To pull the students work into the instructor copy (but never merge):
cd $INSTRUCTOR_REPO git checkout -b stewartdent-master master git pull https://github.com/stewartdent/test-gp-hw0-student.git master cat empty-form.md # Record grade. git checkout master git branch -D stewartdent-master
Then the instructor can close the pull request on
Questions or discussions related to the homework can be conducted on the “issues” page of
* The fact that this repo is public should immediately indicate that student’s work submitted via pull request will also be public and importantly will be visible to other students. Unlike the most common form of cheating, this means that Student A can copy the work of Student B without the explicit consent of Student B. Student B’s only possible defense against this would be to submit their work just before the deadline. As far as I know, I can’t hide pull requests from the public (that would be a nice solution) and I prefer not to use any method that relies on student’s having to create a private fork (since they cost money; although, other class require very over-priced textbooks, so a 6-month github subscription is not so crazy, but it does go against the open-source spirit; there’s also the Big Tobacco style get’em while their young https://education.github.com/pack).