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DevOps for Higher Education

Higher education and government entities may not be top of mind when you think of DevOps adoption. However, just like regulated industries, these institutions realize the benefits of faster releases, better collaboration, automation of repetitive tasks, and improved feedback loops.

There are several areas where higher education can leverage DevOps. First, they can include a DevOps curriculum in their course catalog. Second, they can use the tools and processes within their own IT and administrative departments, and lastly, they can use DevOps in research.

Preparing students for real-world development teams

The lone programmer heroically typing out the next killer app is perhaps a romantic image. Still, tomorrow’s workforce must work collaboratively to solve complex problems, resolve merge conflicts, and understand how their work fits in with their teammates’ or third-party components.

One of the most fundamental lessons in coding collaboration is teaching git. Boot camps have historically been faster to offer practical instruction in source control and shared repositories, but university students also need these skills. In addition, there are benefits for faculty, such as monitoring individual students’ contributions to team projects and faster grading.

One of the fundamentals of DevOps, automating repetitive tasks, is helpful when teaching large undergraduate classes. Automated testing and automated grading provide students with faster feedback, allow them to learn and correct assignments more quickly, and save instructors valuable time ( The Role of Automation in Undergraduate Computer Science Education, 2015 ). Because programmatic grading can be unforgiving, using some time savings for office hours or peer code reviews is important.

As vendors like JFrog and GitLab bring more DevOps capabilities into their platforms, it becomes easier for faculty to teach end-to-end DevOps workflows without requiring proficiency in multiple tool sets.

Students benefit from exposure to DevOps culture and practices, not just tools. Computer science programs have taught ethics in computing for at least two decades, incorporating no-blame cultures, requirements gathering from business stakeholders, and transparency – just some of the skills developers need to succeed after graduation.

DevOps in Higher Ed IT departments

According to one report, higher education institutions spent a median of $7.7 million on central IT over the 2020-2021 year.

DevOps can help institutions speed up digital transformation, reduce costs, and deliver value to students, faculty, and administrators. These benefits can be felt across all departments beyond STEM fields of study.

IT also plays a central role in standardizing and procuring the tools used by engineering departments. What students learn in the classroom may be the same tools used to develop the institution’s software.

DevOps in Academic and Scientific Research

The DevOps framework can help academic organizations better manage the data and access necessary to cooperate on research projects– whether those projects are conducted entirely within the institution, with other researchers in other higher ed institutions, or with the public.

For a related example, read this case study of medical research leveraging DevOps practices and tools.

Bringing DevOps into Higher Education

Many DevOps tools vendors provide educational discounts both for institutional and student use. Some examples are:

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