CompSci teachers panic as Replit pulls the plug on educational IDE

Computer science teachers around the globe have been left scrambling to find an alternative IDE for their students, after Replit announced it was shuttering its Teams for Education plan.

"To focus on improving the Replit experience for all users, we have made the difficult decision to deprecate Teams for Edu ... Teams for Edu will no longer receive new features or bug fixes, and we will suspend the creation of new Teams and Orgs," a statement from Replit, shared with educators and brought to our attention on Monday by Reg readers, declared last week.

The platform provided a collaborative integrated development environment (IDE) tailored toward classrooms. It allowed students to work together on projects at the same time, similar to Google Docs, as well as automating code evaluation to streamline assessments carried out by teachers.

The decision has sparked frustration among many educators who'd invested heavily in the platform since Replit made the plan available for free in early 2022.

"Computer science teachers in the last 48 hours have had to scramble to try to find alternatives as soon as possible and it will be the students that suffer," a teacher based in Asia-Pacific told The Register. "Replit was the only organization we are aware of providing online coding with instant assessment and so it was a hugely popular choice with computer science teachers."

In a Xeet last week, CEO Amjad Masad acknowledged the pain the decision to shut down Teams for Education was likely to cause, but said the current system had become economically nonviable.

"It was a super tough decision but the product was losing a ton of money for the business because it required constant maintenance and support," he said. "It was also compute expensive and was a target for a lot of abuse. Our goal right now is [to] orient the company towards long term sustainability, because otherwise we won't be around to fulfill our mission."

Replit noted that it will continue to offer its free plan, but it's not clear at what point existing educational users will be cut off. We suspect the inability to add teams or orgs could present challenges for teachers trying to start classes in the new year.

The organization has said it will work with educators to move away from the service and provide notice when product access would be removed. The Register has asked Replit for comment on its decision and clarification on its timeline - we'll let you know if we hear back.

According to a blog post by Scottish Teachers Advancing Computing Science (STACS), it appears educators have been advised to fork copies of their projects in Replit Teams onto their personal accounts.

Replit's decision to shutter its Teams for Education suite came just as the development startup announced a singular plan, called Replit Core, which it plans to invest in moving forward.

According to the launch blog, Replit Core is a $220 a year AI-assisted IDE powered by OpenAI's GPT-4 large language model, which it claims can automatically generate and debug code snippets. To us this sounds an awful lot like Microsoft's GitHub Copilot. ®

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