GitHub for the win



GitHub for the win

Two things about OpenTechSchool

OpenTechSchool is an initiative started in Berlin in April 2012, aimed at providing learning opportunities for people by organising hands-on coding- and tech-related workshops and meetups for learners.

Our focus is on empowering people by providing hands-on learning experiences in a open and safe environment, as well as enabling others to do the same by providing open documentation of our work.

We are just the coaches

A short introduction to our most used learning model

Introduction to coaching

In OTS we do not teach, but rather coach. This means there is no one lecturing at the front of the room at our workshops. Instead, you work through the curriculum yourself at your own pace or in small groups of peers with more experienced people around to help you out whenever needed - we call them "the coaches on the sidelines."

New learning material needed

This learning style requires different learning materials than most of what is out there. And we -- as OpenTechSchool -- had some extra requirements:

  • Easily written
  • Public and openly accessible
  • Easy to contribute to
  • Easy and cheap to host and maintain

Due to time constraints:

Let's use

Static HTML-pages with Git at their heart

Creating a bunch of possibilities

  • Easy collaborative writing
  • Local but published and accessible changes via forking
  • Contributing via pull-requests (German version)
  • Published online quickly and there forever

Easy writing

  • Writing simple markdown or restructured text files
  • Using well-established tools like Git and GitHub for collaboration
  • Everyone can use their favourite editor


  • Make your own copy to work on
  • Share it online with others
  • Work with others on "not yet official" material

Pull requests

Once your part is done, make a "pull request" to the main repository. It then gets merged into it with just a click.

Hosted online for free and forever

Just seconds after you've pushed your content, it is available online. There, it's hosted for free and forever.

But there's more!

Fixes on site

You can quickly fix the material during the workshop via the github online editor and ask the participants to hit refresh to distribute it, long before most of them will have noticed the mistake. Priceless!

Tracking issues on site

You can also track your bugs directly while working with the learners online so that you don't forget to fix them later. Again: open and public.

So, everyone is free to fix the issues. Make a pull request and get stuff fixed.


Only plaintext is open

  • Content is key
  • Rendering is secondary
  • WYSIWIGs suck
  • and are unportable
  • even Wordpress
  • and GoogleDocs

But what about wikiX?

Wikis often suffer from bad design, both visually and structurally. For example, just think about organising learning material in "categories!"

Wikis focus on speed. Quality comes second: first you publish, then someone reviews your work (or often doesn't).

For learnering material, quality is more important than speed: only after having been reviewed by a peer, a pull-request gets merged and the content is published.

Use GitHub

and plaintext pages for
managing your open content