[R] re: GUI's for teaching

Rohan Sadler rsadler at agric.uwa.edu.au
Tue Jun 25 11:31:08 CEST 2002

Dear All,

This is a question to sound out possibilities.

I am with the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the
University of Western Australia, representing a few of the more
statistically minded in the faculty. Essentially, there have been
problems in the past with software support, changing over statistical
software, and paying lots of money for it. In R you have an advanced
statistical software package, it is free and it is adaptable. Also the
maths department at UWA is using it on an informal basis and so support
over the long term is available. The only reason why the faculty is not
using R as a whole is because there is no GUI equivalent to
Minitab/SPLUS/Genstat in R that can be used for undergraduate teaching
purposes (unless I'm seriously mistaken). In RWindows there is the GUI,
but it is not designed to carry statistical functions with buttons for
options and this is what is needed for low statistical level undergrads.
There is RWeb, but at this stage of development you wont find many
takers in the faculty.

What I want to know is this: can anyone give me a quote on what it will
cost to develop a RWindows clone of the Minitab GUI. This GUI would
support initially the simple six (EDA, probabilities and quantiles of
distributions, t-tests,one-way anova, chi-square, and simple linear
regression), and have the potential to develop into the next level of
statistical analysis (glms, multivariate methods, time series and
spatial - analytical problems common across our faculty). If the cost of
development is comparable to present licence maintenance fees at FNAS
then I think our small group can argue for its adoption. Not only that,
the benefits to undergraduate teaching in other universities would be
immense. If development costs are high then other faculties at other
universities, where the software licencing arrangements are also
troublesome, are also invited to participate in this potential project.

I imagine this question has been discussed before, but I hope to have
but an interesting turn to it.


Rohan Sadler
Ecosystems Research Group
School of Plant Biology (Botany)
Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

+61 8 9380 7914

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