Setup / Prerequisites Suggestions -- Remedial Links or Assessments? #438
This is related to an issue raised and closed here, but I didn't quite find its resolution entirely satisfactory and so am opening this issue now. This all relates to the setup instructions here and the prerequisites box here.
Specifically, I think it would be helpful to 1) include a link to remedial material in case prospective students have trouble installing R / RStudio or are not sure whether they "understand the concepts of files and directories", and 2) provide a quick self-check of whether R has been successful installed and of their understanding of directory structure / syntax. A link in 1) can be unobtrusive (but inside should be as painfully explicit as possible), and then 2) can potentially get some of the opening troubleshooting out of the way, as well as potentially filter out students for whom the material would be inappropriate. Possibly also a third suggestion, 3) might be to sneak a bit of new-ish material in when you're doing 2).
(I've never taught a carpentries course, but I have taught both undergrad-level and grad-level labs / workshops on intro computational statistics type stuff, and without fail the first big chunk is spent just getting everyone on board with navigating a directory system, changing working directories, specifying file paths, etc.)
I think 1) can be accomplished by linking to something like this video, which is already SWC-associated, or else maybe one of many similar videos up on youtube. Not sure of a good resource for the latter, but I imagine something with lots of pictures of nested folders in Finder / Explorer alongside corresponding paths would serve well.
For 2) then, I think it would be good for them to 'do' something in R in order to confirm that it's been installed correctly and that they understand the concepts of files and directories. Maybe having them call something like
Finally, for 3), why not use R itself to make the folder, download the data, and unzip it? (also -- I've also had student struggle to understand what 'unzipping' means, dunno if that's an issue in SWC courses. I think most OSes come prepackaged with something that can do this nowadays, but linking to a picture showing how to extract file contents could be nice?). Having them run something like:
could be helpful in making sure everyone's on the same page coming into the workshop.
Anyway, those are just some thoughts, and I'm happy to discuss on elaborate upon them further. :]
We could also include an
I tend towards agreeing with your