By: Simisani Ndaba and Edson Kambeu
Saturday morning on the 29th of October 2022, the Botswana R User Group, the Department of Computer Science at the University of Botswana, and R-ladies Gaborone collaborated to conduct an R workshop focusing on the fundamentals of R programming for R enthusiasts. Both organizations are the only R communities in Botswana and have had online events on R related topics from speakers around the world. The Department of Computer Science provided the venue and technical support. Altogether, the seven attendees were from different institutions around Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana. Half of the attendees had a basic knowledge of R programming and the other half had a background in Java and Python programming. The workshop was instructed by Botswana R User Group founder, Edson Kambeu, and R-Ladies Gaborone co-founder, Simisani Ndaba. Edson Kambeu, who is a Finance Lecturer, traveled all the way from Francistown, a city in the north of the country to help instruct the workshop. The instructors used google docs to share educational data science websites, R resources, communities, conferences, and workshops for the attendees.
The Software Carpentry, R for Reproducible Scientific Analysis, was used in the workshop. The other instructor, Simisani Ndaba, is a certified Carpentry Instructor which enabled the Carpentries lesson to be used. The workshop started with an introductory presentation about R programming in Data Science to raise awareness about how R is used in academics and work in Botswana. Afterward, the R programming fundamentals were covered from RStudio IDE, Data Structures, and R packages, to getting help from CRAN and R package vignettes. The attendees were able to understand R functions and statements and questioned parts of R statements they tried to understand like StringAsFactors and they also tried different outputs from changes in R statements. During explanations of the course material, attendees had questions about the similarities between R and Python, and Java and made online searches for alternate functions which demonstrated their curiosity and interest in R capabilities.
At the end of the workshop, attendees were presented with a digital certificate of attendance of the workshop. The workshop has demonstrated an extreme interest in R programming and more workshops need to take place often. The funding was provided by the R consortium which supports R programming community organizations worldwide.
The attendees expressed how the workshop could have reached more people had the event been advertised more broadly through WhatsApp groups, posters, and the university email, which are the main communications channels for the close R Community in Botswana. The workshop had been advertised using Meetup.com, the online platform for community organizations, Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter. People from the social media pages requested an online session which is under consideration and may even attract more participants from around the world. Stay up to date with the latest R activities in Botswana by following R-ladies Gaborone and Botswana R User Group!
How do I Join?
R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute. We are now accepting applications!
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