[Rd] education task view

G. Jay Kerns gkerns at ysu.edu
Fri Jul 4 08:02:37 CEST 2008

Dear R-Devel,

I have had it in my mind for some time now that a Task View related to
R and education might be a good thing.

There are currently 19 Task Views, covering a broad spectrum of
general topics for which R may be used.  The homepage lists 64 books
related to R, and several of them have accompanying packages on CRAN.
There is a wiki and a host of contributed documentation. We also have
a SIG-Teaching mailing list.

But the resources for professors seems scattered, and there doesn't
appear to be a fully developed consensus on exactly what types of
educational resources are out there.  Further, CRAN is so large that
it takes a careful and patient eye to get an idea of what is

What might an Education Task View look like?  Right off the top of my
head, there seem to be at least the following four loose categories:

* packages associated with a specific book/text/monograph (many of these...)

* packages specifically designed with education in mind (e.g.
TeachingDemos, LearnBayes, epibasix, tutoR, schoolmath, ...)

* packages perhaps not specifically designed for educ, but
nevertheless are useful in the classroom (actuar, distr family,
financial, hints, urn, ...)

* GUIs: selected GUIs that provide interfaces to common course
topics/demos, or that professors might use to introduce students to R
(Rcmdr, pmg, RWinEdt, rattle, SciViews,...).

With only a _cursory_ glance on CRAN I found 69 packages which, from
their subject line, appeared to fall into one of the above.  You can
see what I am talking about at


At 70+, an education task view would fall in the upper 20% with
respect to the number of packages, but it would not be the largest...
nobody can beat "Multivariate". :-)

Yes, there are probably some packages missing from the list.  Yes,
there are additional packages for which an argument could be made that
they are useful for teaching something.  Yes, the above categories are
broad and could be tweeked/reorganized or slimmed down.

My point is this: R is already being used in academia worldwide.
There does not exist (yet) an organized, semi-comprehensive CRAN
package representation of what R has to offer the classroom.  Such a
thing would - in my view - be a useful addition to the R community,
and might make many, many professors' lives easier.  A Task View may
be a step in the right direction.

I am confident that the R leadership knows individuals that are
perfectly suited to spearhead something like this if it were decided
to move forward.  By all means: go for it.

If there is trouble finding volunteers, then you're looking (reading?) at one.



G. Jay Kerns, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor / Statistics Coordinator
Department of Mathematics & Statistics
Youngstown State University
Youngstown, OH 44555-0002 USA
Office: 1035 Cushwa Hall
Phone: (330) 941-3310 Office (voice mail)
-3302 Department
-3170 FAX
E-mail: gkerns at ysu.edu

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