R for spatial analysis tutorial + video

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On 24th January 2014 I ran a one day practical course on an “Introduction to Spatial Data Visualisation in R” at the University of Leeds, with the help of demonstrators Rachel Oldroyd and Alistair Leak, who came up from London for the event. The course is designed for people completely new to R, who are especially interested in its spatial functionalities, and is based on a tutorial developed by James Cheshire and myself. We decided to make a pdf version of the tutorial available for free online, and the latest version (which should continue to evolve) can be downloaded here, from the projects GitHub repository. For the benefit of people who could not attend in person, the introductory talk by myself was filmed – as shown in the video below.

All in all the course went very well. Most people seemed to think the level and pace of the tutorial was about right, and there was much flexibility to work at one's own pace. Attendees were encouraged to ask questions focussing on how R could best be used in their own research, and lots of face-to-face learning went on. This is something that simply cannot be replaced by distance learning, no matter how good the teaching materials are.

The great thing about this project is that it lives on. Rather than being a 'finished' document, the tutorial is designed to be continually updated, based on comments from the users. Also, it is possible for anyone with a GitHub account to edit the document directly, by simply hitting the 'Edit' button when looking at the master .Rmd document.

Updates that we will include for next time, based on feedback from the 24th are clearer explanation of tricky concepts such as subsetting with square brackets and an explanation of the input data. If you like the sound of this course, the good news is that there will be more of the same, with an Introduction to Spatial Microsimulation course available to sign-up to on 8th – 9th May.

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