Table of Contents
- The workflow you use as a developer, scaled for the needs of students.
- Why try Classroom?
- Design principles
- GitHub Classroom and the edtech ecosystem
- The technical details
- Help wanted
The workflow you use as a developer, scaled for the needs of students.
Developers rarely work all by themselves, on a deadline, or ship something they’ll only use once (with no idea whether it actually works).
Wouldn’t students be better served by showing versions of their work, iterating, checking in on milestones and showing off the final product?
With GitHub Classroom you can set up the industry-standard workflow and free up your time to focus on teaching.
Classroom is a teacher-facing tool that uses the GitHub API to enable the GitHub workflow for education.
You create an Assignment with starter code and directions, send along one link, and students get their own “sandbox” copy of the repo to get started.
Set due dates, track assignments in your teacher dashboard, or integrate other tools like testing frameworks.
With Classroom, you can spin up your course on GitHub and move on to the good stuff.
Why try Classroom?
Spend more time with students, less on setup. Students accept an assignment with one link, so you can get straight to the material.
Bootstrap group assignments in a snap. Invite students to a shared repository, and cap the number of students per group. Use the same groups over and over again, or create new ones.
More insight into student work than ever before. See when students accept the assignment, and access their work from the moment they start. With version control, catch when they get stuck and help them rewind.
You are in control. Students can work individually or in groups, in public or in private. Invite teaching assistants or graders to view the assignments.
Scales for large courses with ease. If you have a small course, Classroom will make your life easier and save you time. If you have hundreds of students, we have you covered: as many repositories as you need, and webhooks to integrate automated testing tools.
Works with your Learning Management System (LMS). Students submit a link to their assignment repository to your learning management system. Give feedback through comments in GitHub, but keep grades in your LMS.
You’re not alone. The experts on the GitHub Education team are here to answer any of your questions, and we’ve got docs, best practices, and a strong community of educators to help you migrate to Classroom.
Are you super-advanced? Do you want to build your own tools? We
Classroom is a teacher-facing tool to simplify the educational use of GitHub. Every student needs feedback and support as they learn to code, and using GitHub you can give them the right advice, in the right place, at the right time. Classroom makes it easier to use the workflow you love, with some automation and ease for student use.
Students use GitHub. They don’t use Classroom. Experience with real-world tools gives students a leg-up once they move on from school. Invest time in the tools students can grow with, not another third-party tool with its own learning curve.
Classroom is not an LMS (Learning Management System). If you need to use an LMS like Canvas, Moodle or Blackboard, we hear you. Students can post their repositories to your LMS. We’re going to stick with what we’re good at, which is helping people collaborate on code.
Classroom is open source. Git and GitHub are versatile with many ways to meet your learning goals, and we want to model the open source process that makes our communities great.
We welcome contributions aligned with the roadmap below and through answering these questions:
- Does it enable the real-life experience of using GitHub as a developer?
- Does it replicate functionality that's best left to the expertise of content platforms, hardware or LMS?
- How many support tickets and questions will the feature address?
Who is Classroom for?
Anyone teaching computer science in a high school, university or informal environment. Folks who might also find Classroom useful:
- Higher ed statistics and data science teachers
- Higher ed biology and the hard sciences
GitHub Classroom and the edtech ecosystem
In case you’re wondering “How does Classroom interact with my favorite app/my notebook/my LMS” here’s the tl;dr on how those pieces fit together:
Apps and content platforms
Examples: Codecademy, Skillshare, Udemy, Udacity
Apps offer premium content and interactive exercises. GitHub Classroom offers real-world experience with code. Classroom, as a teacher-facing application will eventually surface best-in-class content for top courses (notes / lectures / problem sets) but not produce original content.
Learning Management system/LMS
Examples: Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas. Google Classroom
Teachers often use a learning management system in keeping with student privacy regulations. Classroom has a lightweight integration with LMS ecosystem--students can submit a link to their repositories. LTI compliance and Google Classroom integration will make the app more extensible.
Examples: BlueJ, Jupyter, RStudio
Most notebooks have a Git integration that students can push to. Future iterations may pre-populate repos with robust directions on set up.
Examples: Chromebooks, Raspberry Pi, Lego
GitHub Classroom runs in Unix environments and Windows. Shared machines or lab environments are encouraged to use cloud-based environments, like Cloud 9. Integration looks like Git and GitHub pre-loaded + embedded in hardware.
Examples: Pearson, Travis CI, Circle CI
For GitHub Classroom, assessment is directly related to the real-world experience of being a developer: your code passes tests. Configuring folders in student repositories is a priority on the roadmap.
The technical details
GitHub Classroom is a Ruby on Rails application.
New to Ruby? No worries! You can follow these instructions to install a local server.
If you're using macOS and running the Homebrew package manager you're all set to go! Head down to Setup Classroom
Installing Docker and Docker Compose
We use Docker and docker-compose so that we don't have to setup our external dependencies on our machines.
Here is the installation guide for Ubuntu: https://docs.docker.com/install/linux/docker-ce/ubuntu/
In order to install the
pg gem you have to have PostgreSQL on your system, all you need to do is install it via your package manager of choice.
If you're running an Debian/Ubuntu based GNU/Linux for example run:
apt-get install nodejs postgresql redis-server memcached.
We really don't have a good story for running this on Windows, but Pull Requests are welcome
Setup GitHub Classroom
We follow the script to rule them all principle, so all you need to do is run:
Once that's done the script will kindly remind you to fill out you
.env file inside the repository, this is the breakdown.
Development environment variables
These values must be present in your
.env file (created by
||Ngrok url to receive webhooks (run
||the GitHub Application Client ID.|
||the GitHub Application Client Secret.|
To obtain your
GitHub Client ID/Secret you need to register a new OAuth application.
After you register your OAuth application, you should fill in the homepage url with
http://localhost:5000 and the authorization url with
To obtain your GitHub User ID for the
NON_STAFF_GITHUB_ADMIN_IDS field, go to
Testing environment variables
If you want to make a functionality change to the application you will need to write tests to accompany that change. In order to do this, the test values in the .env file must be filled in.
GitHub Classroom uses VCR for recording and playing back API fixtures during test runs. These cassettes (fixtures) are part of the Git project in the
spec/support/cassettes folder. If you're not recording new cassettes you can run the specs with existing cassettes with:
GitHub Classroom uses environmental variables for storing credentials used in testing, these values are located in your
.env file (created by
If you are recording new cassettes, you need to make sure all of these values are present.
||The Personal Access Token for the classroom owner|
||Test OAuth application client ID.|
||The Personal Access Token for the student|
||GitHub ID (preferably one created specifically for testing against).|
||GitHub login (preferably one created specifically for testing against).|
To obtain these values you will need:
- A teacher (your primary GitHub account)
- A student (another Github account, created for this purpose)
- An organisation that the teacher is an owner of, but the student does not belong to.
It is best if you create your own organization for testing purposes, if you have done so:
To obtain the
OWNER_GITHUB_ID value, you can go to
To obtain the
OWNER_GITHUB_TOKEN value, you will need to generate a personal access token.
To get the
STUDENT_GITHUB_ID value you will need to create another user account on GitHub and get the ID by going to
To get the
STUDENT_GITHUB_TOKEN value you will need to generate another personal access token for the student account.
To obtain the
OWNER_ORGANIZATION_GITHUB_ID/LOGIN you can go to
Now you should have all of the values filled in, great job!
Running the application
If you'd like to receive webhooks from GitHub you can run:
And update the
WEBHOOK_URL in your .env file.
And if you want to play with features that are still in development run:
After that, you may start the rails server in a separate terminal with:
Aaand that's it! You should have a working instance of GitHub Classroom located here
We strongly encourage you to use https://classroom.github.com, but if you would like your own version GitHub Classroom can be easily deployed to Heroku.
There are a few environment variables you will need to know in order to get Classroom working on production.
Production environment variables
||the ID for application in airbrake.io, if set Airbrake will be enabled|
||the PROJECT_KEY in airbrake.io, if set Airbrake will be enabled|
||the preferred hostname for the application, if set requests served on other hostnames will be redirected|
||identifier for Google Analytics in the format
||Show the message of the day banner at the top of the site|
If you're interested in helping out with Classroom development and looking for a place to get started, check out the issues labeled
help-wanted and feel free to ask any questions you have before diving into the code.
Classroom is developed by these contributors.