Great R by Michael Milton

greatRMovie.gifGreat R:Level 1 by Michael Milton is a 2 hr video course which leads you from the basics of installing the R envir­on­ment on your sys­tem to con­duct­ing basic ana­lysis and present­a­tion of your data. The course itself is delivered in a clear, con­cise man­ner and the author is very thor­ough in his approach. The pacing is very good and as a stu­dent you are kept engaged and don’t tend to fall behind, nor feel that you wish that things could hurry along. This video course is a superb com­ple­ment to writ­ten tutori­als and ref­er­ence manu­als on the R environment.

The video and voice qual­ity are great and the small tutorial chunks make it very easy to stop and come back. Addi­tion­ally, the sum­mar­ies at that start of each chunk build into this and imme­di­ately let you pick up where you let off. Dur­ing the course, small pop-up sum­mar­ies appear at crit­ical points sum­mar­ising a concept or provid­ing a clear descrip­tion of the com­mand being executed. This greatly enables the play along tutorial nature of the course.

The course is aimed at a stu­dent inter­ested in dis­cov­er­ing the power of R and demands no prior exper­i­ence with R, stat­ist­ics or a pro­gram­ming lan­guage. This does not mean that the assump­tion is that the user is abso­lutely naive and it is clear that some know­ledge at dif­fer­ent points is of advant­age and plays well into the chal­lenges set by the instructor.

I par­tic­u­larly like the teach­ing style of the author. He asks ques­tions of you, the stu­dent, and sets up a series of peri­odic chal­lenges to ensure that you are engaged and involved in the process…the best attempt to cre­ate an an act­ive learn­ing envir­on­ment as if the tutor was there sit­ting with you.

The over­all scope of the mod­ule is appro­pri­ate. You are intro­duced to the envir­on­ment and carry out a series of tasks that build on your famili­ar­ity with R. Milton takes you through a num­ber of real world exer­cise from start to fin­ish. The file cycle allows for a thor­ough and groun­ded understanding.

One of the only small quibbles that I would note is the reli­ance on the external data source for the ini­tial exer­cise. Although I was able to get the data from the UNData web­site, some­thing was amiss with the CSV format and my screen then didn’t match that of the tutorial. In fact what had happened was the data pro­vider added an addi­tional column con­sequently R seemed to have a little trouble with empty val­ues in that column. This was solved with a quick tinker, but points to a long term issue. I do like that the author decided to use real world data and to high­light the use­ful­ness of R for work­ing with pub­lic data­sets, so am loathe to be over crit­ical, but the chal­lenge remains.

Much addi­tional know­ledge is con­veyed both between dis­cus­sion of types of arrays, and also the not­ing of smal­ler tips that the author has found that make work­ing with the R envir­on­ment more efficient.

I was very impressed with this course and would recom­mend it for any­one inter­ested in delving into the world of R. In com­par­ison to R in a Nut­shell which I had pre­vi­ously reviewed, this course would make a very fine intro­duc­tion and lead to pick­ing up the fur­ther volume to expand on one’s know­ledge of R. I would feel a lot more com­fort­able approach­ing the book after hav­ing gone through this video tutorial. All I can say now is bring on Great R: Level 2!

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