I have plunged head first into the world of R programing. I have officially completed my first class in the Data Science specialization with John Hopkins University through Coursera. The first class was fast and simple. This “fast and simple” lured me into signing up to take on the next two classes simultaneously. Mistakes were made.

The 2nd and 3rd Classes (in particular the 2nd Class) are not to be trifled with. There is nothing incredibly difficult about the program (so far anyways) and the instructors do a great job. However, if you really want to learn R, you must invest copious amounts of precious time at the command line interface typing in functions, vectors and matrices. I see now that the Data Science specialization is truly meant to be done in order. The classes are only 4 weeks in length, but they build on each other (at least the first few do). Here is the order that the classes are supposed to be completed in:

  1. The Data Scientist’s Toolbox
  2. R Programming
  3. Getting and Cleaning Data
  4. Exploratory Data Analysis
  5. Reproducible Research
  6. Statistical Inference
  7. Regression Models
  8. Practical Machine Learning
  9. Developing Data Products
  10. Data Science Capstone

So I now find myself trying to get far enough ahead in R Programming to prevent myself from falling behind in Getting a Cleaning Data. Lesson learned.

A white knight to the rescue!

I have a new package which is helping me learn R very quickly though. It is called SWIRL, which stands for Statistics With Interactive R Learning.

I wish I would have found this R package earlier!

SWIRL was created in 2013 by Nick Carchedi, who was a graduate student at John Hopkins University. SWIRL is brilliant. Pre-SWIRL I was bouncing back and forth between instructional videos, RStudio, and various websites. This was incredibly time consuming and marginally productive for me. Post SWIRL I am getting everything done right in RStudio and saving precious time. Basically you get some text instruction, you enter information into the console, you hit enter and you either get a “Good Job!” or a “That’s not quite what I was looking for…..Try this!” I am now spending more time actually in R which I suspect may be the best place to learn R.

My advice: If you want to learn R, go for a SWIRL.