Making Friends with GitHub

One of the areas of challenge we see most frequently in bringing new folks onboard to “open science” is the learning curve involved with open tools, particularly those who are not well-versed in the world of coding and open source.

A couple weeks ago, we had the opportunity to work with one of our Mozilla Fellows for Science, Joey Lee, on developing a “Friendly Intro to GitHub” workshop at the University of British Columbia.  The workshop assumed no experience on the part of the participants and is designed to be taught in one day.  While there was some mention of how GitHub works with Git, we tried to stay focused on the online interface with some dalliance in GitHub Desktop just to keep it simple.

Friendly Intro to GitHub Workshop

“Friendly Intro to GitHub” workshop hosted by University of British Columbia Library

We started with essentials such as what GitHub actually is, a glossary, and some examples then let folks get down and dirty with GitHub by setting up their very own first project.

What makes GitHub so great as a tool for working open is the ability to preserve version control even while collaborating with multiple people.  After lunch we had participants really experience the collaborative aspect by creating issues, making pull requests and forking. (Not sure what all that means? Check out the glossary.)

Collaborating on GitHub

Collaborating on GitHub

The workshop finished up with a discussion on the essential pieces of a repository such as READMEs, Codes of Conduct, Licenses, and CONTRIBUTING docs.

Our post assessment survey gave us some great feedback on what worked and what didn’t.

Rating on pace of workshop

Feedback on pace of the workshop

There was strong agreement that participants learned something valuable from the workshop (4.5 on 5 pt scale) and the pace of the workshop was good for learning (4.6).  The comments were where we found gold, however.

On the value of the workshop:

“It for sure made GitHub more accessible and understandable. I tried learning it before by myself, but found that very difficult. I feel now that I have a much better understanding of the concepts and main work flows, and using that, it will be much easier and hopefully more straightforward to use github!”

Regarding comfort with GitHub after the workshop:

“I learned lots but there is still so much more to learn! So many different things github can be used for, I want to learn more.”

“I learned the important concept – Github is not only used for coders! It’s good that the activities in workshops are not related to coding.”

Tweet abt workshopThe best part of our post-workshop assessment was that 100% of respondents said they would recommend this workshop to others!

Pie Chart of responses

GitBooks and GitPages were requested by several people for follow-up workshops, so look for those to come in the future!

Workshop materials including exercises, schedule and etherpad can all be found here:

Feel free to fork the repository and make it your own!