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University Bans GitHub Homework

Robert McMillan, Wired, University Bans GitHub Homework (Then Changes Its Mind), here.  Think TieOut. Collaborate on checking the data/output.

The university wanted to remove GitHub repositories that contained “course materials and solutions to assignments in three of our CS courses,” according to Professor Rob Rutenbar, the head of the school’s computer science department. The implication is that school was trying to stop cheating.

That’s a noble enough idea. But in this case, it works against the prevailing attitudes in the software world.

Across Silicon Valley and beyond, GitHub has caught on big time because it lets you track changes to your work—a version control system, in computer parlance—and it lets you do this in the open. This is a great way to promote collaboration on software projects, and naturally, the general attitudes behind the site are now filtering down the country’s university students.

The trouble is that while students often think of programming as a collaborative act, some universities still think of it as a private, proprietary thing. “The whole concept of using a DMCA takedown on the student who is openly working is broken,” says Andrew Dunn, a graduate student at Northwestern University.

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