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August 12th-14th in Seattle

Standardizing on R and learning interactively with Posit Academy

The Problem

After deciding to eliminate the use of a previously used statistical programming language, NPD wanted to standardize its processes on R and Python. As the company’s Research Science team already had a third of their code in R, they focused specifically on standardizing on the R language.

In preparation for this move, they decided to offer training to ensure the team was comfortable with packages like dplyr and with interacting with Spark from R using sparklyr. NPD had a wide mix of folks interested in the training: some who had never programmed in R and some who had a lot of experience with R, but not with packages like dplyr.

They considered several training options, but were not happy with any of them. Many training options were just videos, and watching someone else code didn’t give their team the hands-on experience they needed. Some courses offered limited interaction, but certain topics were missing and others weren’t exactly relevant to their needs. This would have led the team to have to cobble together a couple of courses and/or supplement a course with their own content.

The Solution

Posit Academy was a much better fit as the NPD team was able to adjust the content to their needs and the experience was truly interactive. People were divided into smaller groups with mentors assigned and Posit Academy also provided supplemental lessons to complete individually. A weekly project was completed and shared in a group session over a video call as well.

With a few dozen people going through the course, NPD was able to refine and adjust the curriculum during the first few pilot groups and make adjustments to the course content. Some graduates of Posit Academy then became mentors for a second wave of the course, which was offered to a wider audience of NPD users. Having internal leaders for groups worked out very well because NPD staff were very familiar with the organization’s work and systems.  The NPD facilitators led the weekly sessions, and kept regular touch-points with a Posit employee to both raise questions about content and discuss best practices in mentoring.

The NPD Academy participants really liked the format of the mentorship. Meeting together and sharing their approach to a bite-sized problem was a great way to learn data science. Since finishing Academy, they’ve continued with similar approaches internally. People enjoy meeting together, sharing solutions to a problem and learning from one another.

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