R Training for Corporate and Government Data Teams

Many data teams are trying to add R to their toolkit. R is free and has a rich ecosystem of niche analytical packages. And because it is a programming language, it allows you to customize and reproduce your analyses in a way that is simply not possible with GUI analysis tools.

The question isn't whether your team should learn R. The question is: What's the best way for your team learn R?

Why R Training Often Fails

Many data teams have an internal expert who advocates for R. This person is normally a tremendous resource as the team learns this new skill. However, problems can arise if this person is now - in addition to their regularly scheduled work - tasked with teaching the entire team R.

Creating and delivering lesson plans is time consuming and hard work. As is providing post-training support. I have witnessed more than one team where the internal R expert has gotten burned out because training their team wound up being a much larger project than they expected.

Another risk with relying on internal technical experts is that they normally don't have a background in Instructional Design. This can lead to sub-optimal learning experiences, which in turn can lead to frustration on the part of both the learners and teacher.

 Another common pitfall is relying on online courses. Online courses are best suited to highly motivated learners who already have some background to the field. But what if people on your team are content with Excel, and don't see the value in learning R? The odds are that they simply won't put much effort into the courses. And if they don't have prior experience with programming, they may get frustrated by the pace of the course and start to think that R is something that they somehow "can't learn".

How I can Help

I have helped data analysis teams like yours learn R. In addition to being fluent with many popular R packages, I am also a certified RStudio Trainer and experienced teacher. I can work with you to develop - and implement - a training program that is customized to your team's needs. 

My training engagements normally have four components

1. A Training Blueprint. This is a document that we develop together at the start of the engagement. It describes the "skill gap" between your team's current level with R and where you would like it to be. It also describes the mix of standardized training, customized training and post-training support which we plan to use to address the gap.

2. Standardized Training. I have received Tidyverse Trainer certification from RStudio. As part of this I have access to a large number of proven training materials for many of the most popular R libraries, such as ggplot2 and dplyr. Many clients request training on these topics, and I have found these materials to be excellent for this purpose.

3. Customized training. In order to address a skill gap your team will need to take what it learns in Standardized Training and apply it to its own data. This is often much harder than it sounds for analysts. One way I have successfully addressed this in the past is with Customized Training sessions. I will work with you to create an analysis of your data and then present it to your team. We will go through it together in order to bridge the gap between pure techniques on side, and real analysis on the other.

4. Post-training support. It is rare for a team to be able to immediately apply all that they learn in a training to their work without some kind of support system in place. I frequently supply post-training support to my trainees.

Derek Darves, Ph.D. Senior Data Scientist, Financial Services Firm

A Gifted Teacher and Insightful Programmer

Ari is both a gifted teacher and a very insightful programmer -- attributes you don't always find strongly within the same person! He developed a clear plan to advance the R programming skills of our group and boosted our overall competency to the degree he projected in our SOI. In short, his vision matches execution, and he has the skills, insight and experience needed to succeed as a statistical consultant. Thank you Ari!

Phil Martien, Ph.D. Engineering Manager, BAAQMD

Training specific to our needs and to the type of work we do

Ari’s Training Blueprint was immensely helpful in building a solid foundation for a transition to an R-based work environment and moved us efficiently along a productive trajectory.

We have an in-house training program, but these trainings tend to be generic. One of the great ideas that Ari brought was training specific to our needs and to the type of work we do. He spent time up front to understand our team and what we are trying to develop. His deep knowledge of R helped him understand our mission and come up to speed on the packages developed by the experienced R user in our group.

What I liked most about Ari’s Training Blueprint was that Ari has a great sense for how to introduce new information without overloading people. His training was effective because he made the experience a positive one, with early wins for group members less familiar with R.

I would definitely recommend Ari’s Training Blueprint to anyone who works with teams to make effective use of R. Ari helped our team develop skills and greatly enhance our level of comfort using R.