Computer Science Education Trends
Open Source, Python and Visual Studio Code Top Themes in GitHub Student Survey
- By Dian Schaffhauser
developers were more likely to contribute to open source coding
projects this year than last and adopt Visual
as their preferred integrated development environment (IDE). Those
results surfaced in the latest GitHub
which provides a look at GitHub-oriented computer science education
in 2020. GitHub is an open source development platform for hosting
and reviewing code, managing projects and collaborating on software
survey drew responses from 7,070 students and 165 teachers and
faculty members from around the world. Forty-four percent of student
participants were full-time students (compared to 30 percent last
year). All have participated in the GitHub
program, which provides access to tools and training for colleges,
universities and high schools, enabling students to learn software
development. This is the fourth year the survey has been done.
the demographic side, the average age of respondents was 24. Most
were male--90 percent for students and 93 percent for instructors.
About a third (32 percent) were based in the United States; the next
largest segment of participants was in Canada (10 percent).
the area of programming, the most common coding language was Python;
81 percent of respondents said they'd used it. That was followed by
languages with the biggest growth year over year were Python (which
grew from 75 percent usage in 2019 to 81 percent this year);
Bash/Shell (whose usage increased from 61 percent to 63 percent; C
(47 percent to 49 percent); and R (17 percent to 20 percent).
predicted that Python's popularity would continue since it "has
applications across different domains, like data science,"
making it a "suitable choice" for teaching.
the subject of IDEs, VS Code saw growth from 52.5 percent in 2019 to
69.9 percent in 2020. However, usage of IntelliJ rose even more, from
30 percent to 50 percent. PyCharm usage increased from 20 percent to
35 percent. Among teacher respondents, 60 percent reported that VS
Code was typically used in their courses; nothing else came close.
IntelliJ, for example, was mentioned by 20 percent of instructors and
PyCharm by 19 percent.
notion of contributing to open source projects saw "meaningful
shifts" this year, the report noted. The number of student
respondents who contributed grew by nine percentage points from 52
percent last year to 61 percent this year. As GitHub explained, "It
could...be the case that, with a COVID-19-affected job market, more
early-career developers are looking for ways to differentiate
previous versions of the survey didn't ask about remote work options,
this year's did. Nearly nine in 10 students said that it was
important to some extent for their current or future employers to
offer remote work options. For 57 percent that aspect of employment
was either "very" or "extremely" important. But
not necessarily for the sake of COVID-19 safety. As respondents told
researchers, they wanted "greater flexibility, more time back in
their day from not having to commute, work-life balance and higher
productivity." As one person explained, remote work options were
important "because I can organize my time in a better way, save
transportation expenses and save the company I'm working [for] from
an unnecessary workspace." Another stated, "I've learned
that my productivity is much higher when I work remotely."
the same time, the report observed, remote work poses a challenge for
people who are newly out of school and starting their new careers as
coders. "Younger developers are eager to grow through their
professional network, get on-site mentorship and connect with their
cohorts at work," the report asserted. "If early-career
developers continue to choose remote work, that will be a challenge
for the organizations who will need to provide that support in a
full report is openly available on
the GitHub website.
An anonymized version of the data is available for further research
the GitHub Education repository
under an MIT license.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.