Prior to COVID-19, the Childhood Cancer Data Lab (CCDL) regularly held short in-person workshops to bolster analytical skills in the pediatric cancer research community. We teach workshop participants to analyze their own experimental data using their own laptops so they walk out the door ready to solve real problems. This end goal presents a problem: if twenty participants are in a workshop, a small team of instructors needs to set up twenty laptops with the same software environment in a short period of time. Our solution was Dockerizing RStudio and all software dependencies using base images from the Rocker Project. Installing Docker on participant laptops means instructors had to manage one moderately difficult installation, instead of tens of dependency installations that varied in difficulty by operating system.
When pandemic-related university closures shuttered pediatric cancer labs, researchers turned to rapidly expanding their data analysis skill sets to keep the research moving forward. Demand for our workshops was high, but we knew managing Docker installation remotely was infeasible. We turned to RStudio professional products to quickly pivot to virtual workshops and help the community we serve.