Building DataMind: FREE Online Interactive Learning Plaftorm for R

July 11, 2013

(This article was first published on » R, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

DataMind is the first free interactive online learning platform for R. Through an in-browser coding environment we offer exercise-based learning-by-doing. Our goal is to build a fun learning experience for data analysis and R, while allowing anyone to create courses! You can check out an early stage beta version at !

With DataMind, we focus on three things: (1) make the educational experience interactive and fun for students, (2) make the platform and the content available for free, and (3) stimulate content creation by the community (you! Drop us a line if you are interested to create courses, the course creation interface is work in progress). Our focus on interactivity and fun is driven by our believe that you learn data analytics by doing! We do not believe in copying the classroom online. That is why all our courses are constructed around an in-browser coding interface, allowing users to start coding R from day one with the help of instant feedback. Over time, challenges and competitions will be added to courses as well, so users can also interact with each other.

We were inspired to start this project by innovative start-ups who offer interactive web development courses. These start-ups put a focus on learning-by-doing through in-browser coding, elements of gamification, and community provided content. It turned out this approach was a huge hit, but we got frustrated it didn’t exist for R and data analysis. Having experience in teaching statistics, we were convinced data analytics education could greatly benefit from such a didactic approach that focuses on learning-by-doing. Next, the data science industry itself is experiencing a huge increase in popularity. And last but not least, we strongly believe data analytics and its visualisation needs a somewhat tailored learning approach compared to web development.

So we started coding!

We are developing DataMind in such a way that it supports, and even stimulates, content creation by the community. The key succesfactor of an online learning platform depends on the strength of the available content. Today, R is used in many domains that are often relatively unrelated. (e.g. finance and biostatistics). With community content generation, experts of these diverse fields can share and create interactive content much faster and of much higher quality than we could ever do ourselves. For you as a course creator, it’s a scalable way to spread knowledge, build reputation and provide a fun learning experience to your students. In other words, we need you ;-)

Where do we stand today? At you can check out an early stage beta version of the platform and enroll in our first course ‘Summer of R‘. ‘Summer of R’ is aimed at those new to R that want to master the basics so they can start doing their own analysis. Furthermore, we’re working very hard on the course creation interface so everyone can start creating interactive courses soon.

If you feel enthusiastic about this project, and want to create interactive courses either for academic purposes, professional reasons or just for fun. Or if you have suggestions, feedback, questions… Do not hesitate to send an e-mail to [email protected]. (We would love feedback!)

P.S. The technical infrastructure behind DataMind will be covered in a future post.


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