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STLCC Receives GitHub Education Partner Schools Grant

St. Louis Community College is among the first institutions worldwide to receive a GitHub Education Partner Schools grant that allows the entire institution to use GitHub services free of charge for two years beginning this month.

GitHub is a cloud-based provider that allows individuals and teams to organize and share documents online. It is version control software, which means it manages changes to a project without overwriting any part of that project. It has been described as “a filing system for every draft of a document.”

It is considered the industry standard for collaborative coding software.

According to Margaret Hvatum, professor in information systems at the college’s Meramec campus, the software also can be used to support online collaboration in art, creative writing and other disciplines.

“Students will learn to use the document sharing tool that is used in Industry. When students use GitHub in their class they will be learning a document sharing tool that will be allow them to post their portfolio online and share it with potential employers and potential transfer institutions,” Hvatum said. “Many jobs these days, for graphic artists, for software developers and for content producers such as writers, require potential employees to make their online portfolio available for review. GitHub is the technology of choice for this, and STLCC students will be better able to compete in the marketplace because we have taught them how.”

According to Vanessa Gennarelli, general manager for GitHub Education, GitHub also offers real value to instructors because of workflow tracking capability.

“Git and GitHub allows you to save your work in increments, so teachers can diagnose where students get stuck, students can roll back to a known good state, and teachers have better insight into student work than ever before.”

The grant is not restricted to educational or classroom use, Hvatum said. STLCC has full license to use all GitHub Education features for free.

“GitHub allows collaborative free data storage in the cloud, and that the person who sets up the data repository can decide who to share it with, and what level of sharing to permit,” Hvatum said. “It allows faculty and staff to control and make changes to documents that they need to collaboratively use, without having to go through the IT departments. A lot of teaching happens online in evenings and on weekends when IT staff is not available to help.”

Hvatum also noted that one of the findings in STLCC’s recent successful reaccreditation visit noted that the college has an ongoing requirement to demonstrate continuous improvement. GitHub, she said, could play a key role technical role in future reaccreditation data collection.

“This requirement mandates the collection of data to demonstrate that continuous improvement is taking place at a course level, program level, and institutional level,” Hvatum said. “GitHub data repositories (with version control) offer a cost-effective solution to STLCC’s data needs while offering traceability that allows for built-in proof of when and by whom each document was saved and modified.”

STLCC joins Gallaudet University, 42 Silicon Valley, Ubiqum Code Academy in Spain, Santa Barbara City College, and the University of New Hampshire as the first GitHub Education Partner schools.

GitHub Education became available in 2012.