Learn and Teach R

by Joseph Rickert

If you haven’t explored the RStudio website in a while, your next visit may include a pleasant surprise. I recently went to the Tidymodels page, just to see what was new and was immediately drawn into the new landscape imagined by the RStudio education team. Clicking on Get Started I came to a fork and a choice of going farther with Tidymodels or backing up a bit. I went down the beginners path Finding Your Way to R and found myself in a well-lit wood, and I was not lost.

Like a park with well-marked trails, the Learning R section of the RStudio Education site branches off to R excursions graded to match the “hikers” experience. The Beginners trail starts in a safe place that should make even the absolutely terrified feel comfortable. It offers different modes of learning including videos, tutorials, books and even excursions to trusted third party sites that have their own feel.

The Intermediates section emphasizes learning how to get help, suggests some basic tools that should be useful no matter what path you select, and then points to places where you may already know you want to go: bioconductor, financial models or Spark clusters for example. The basic idea is that at this stage you know enough R to get some real work done, and a good path to making further progress might be to follow what interests you.

The Experts trail is for the intrepid who are ready to venture past terra firma and take a deep dive

into the foundations of R, or package building, or using Python, or exploring deep learning with Tensorflow. As with the others, this trail is well marked and offers tools and suggestions for making progress.

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise for an educator coming to the RStudio Education site is to see that the trails don’t stop with Expert. There is an entire section of the “park” marked off for teaching with trails that offer essential material for supporting both educators and online education. Learn to teach offers advice on how to develop as a teacher based on practical experience with the Carpentries. The section on Materials for teaching offers a panpoply of courses and workshops developed at RStudio that teachers can freely adapt to their needs. There is material here relevant to data wrangling, data science, R, tidyverse, shiny and more. The third section, Tools for teaching describes RStudio Cloud and other RStudio tools for creating a modern, interactive teaching infrastructure.

Whether you are just thinking about learning R or about to teach an advanced course, I think you might enjoy walking around the RStudio Education website. Maybe, I’ll get to Tidymodels next time.

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