May 10, 2016

Who am I?

  • Genomics at New York University
  • Computer Science at The University of Maryland
  • Statistics at Johns Hopkins University

  • Currently I work in the Department of Biostatistics at JHU
  • The path I've taken is problematic.

What is this talk about?

  • What is data science?
  • What is data science education?
  • How can we scale data science education? (And by "we" I mean you and I because I need your help!)

What is Data Science?: Process

What is Data Science?: Skills

The tip of the iceberg:

(Probably and American colloquialism (sorry))

  • Computer Science
    • Machine Learning
    • Distributed Computing
    • Parallel Computing
    • Algorithms
  • Statistics
    • Inference
    • Regression
  • + the scientific methods from a specific field (genomics, sociology, molecular gastronomy, etc)

Data Science Education: Motivation

What is Data Science Education?

  • How can we most effectively teach students to manipulate and interrogate data using a computer?
  • How can we scale this kind of education to millions of people?
  • How can we improve upon issues that are currently present in computer science and mathematics education?

Attempts at Scaling Data Science Education

What is swirl?

What is swirl?

  • swirl is an R package that turns the R console into an interactive learning environment for data science.
  • swirl takes advantage of the R console's call-and-response behavior.
  • swirl provides an authentic environment, there is no separation between where a student is learning data science and where they will go on to practice data science.

What problems does swirl solve?

  • swirl is free and open source, and it always will be.
  • swirl is available in multiple langauges (we're always looking for volunteer translators!)
  • Anyone can make and distribute their own swirl course for free.

What is a swirl course?

  • A swirl course is a collection of lessons.
  • Each lesson contains about 20 minutes of instruction about a particular topic in data science.
  • Lessons are written and structured using yaml and R.




Coming to swirl this summer:

  • Improved lessons
  • More courses
  • Better channels for distributing swirl courses
  • Feedback for course instrcutors to assess student's performance

We want you!


  • Co-Creators:
    • Nick Carchedi, Bill Bauer, Gina Grdina
  • Generous support from:
    • Brian Caffo, Roger Peng, Jeff Leek
  • Financial support from: