Accepting GitHub Classroom Assignments Fails

About 2-3 weeks ago, the UI for accepting GitHub classroom assignments changed. In the old UI students would see progress bars indicating that their repository was being created. When finished, the page would refresh with a link to their repository.

The new interface simply tells them that it will “take a few minutes” to create the repository and that they should refresh to see the status.

Ever since this change, the repository creation has been failing for a significant number of students. The error message is “There was an error accepting the assignment, please try again. If this problem persists, please contact support.” Today, I was unable to accept one of my own assignments and had to resort to directly cloning the starter code repository.

For many students, waiting a few minutes and refreshing the page solves the problem. For some, the problem persists for several minutes. In the worst cases, it persists for more than 20. Sometimes a “reaccept” button appears on the page (though this is unpredictable). Clicking that button works sometimes, and sometimes it does not.

As I am sure you can imagine, using GitHub classroom for in class assignments or practical exams is incredibly difficult when some of the students cannot create a repository and get the starter code. This has been a pretty big headache for us, and is affecting many of our students.