Learn R and statistics for free in a MOOC starting September 9

Rlogo[1]This is a shout-out to those of you who would like to learn more about statistics, inference and probabilities using R, a free, open-source high-level mathematical language. Those who have been following this blog and Climate Audit will know that R is used by Steve McIntyre and others to great effect.

The course is called “Explore Statistics with R” and its going to be run by the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden (the course is in English) starting 9th September for 5 weeks.

The course will be using health data as the discussed dataset but the skills have obviously wider application than that.

Skilled persons who can process and analyze data are in great demand today. In this course you will explore concepts in statistics that help you make sense out of data. You will learn the practical skills necessary to find, import, analyze and visualize data. We will take a look under the hood of statistics and equip you with broad tools for understanding statistical inference and statistical methods. You will also get to perform some really complicated calculations and visualizations, following in the footsteps of Karolinska Institutet’s researchers.


In this course you will learn the basics of R, a powerful open source statistical programming language. Why has R become the tool of choice in bioinformatics, the health sciences and many other fields? One reason is surely that it’s powerful and that you can download it for free right now. But more importantly, it’s supported by an active user community. In this course you will learn how to use peer reviewed packages for solving problems at the frontline of health science research. Commercial actors just can’t keep up implementing the latest algorithms and methods. When algorithms are first published, they are already implemented in R. Join us in a gold digging expedition. Explore statistics with R.

There are 22000 students already enrolled, so there are bound to be plenty of people who are beginners as well as those more mathematically gifted.

If this follows the pattern of other MOOCs then there won’t be 22000 students by the end, but those who persist will be much better informed especially about the methods used by some scientists. 😉

Join up at http://edx.org and enroll from there on the course.

You don’t have to complete everything, although there is a certificate for those who score sufficiently highly.

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Joseph Shaw
August 24, 2014 5:11 pm

I’m in. I have used R in the past but am fairly rusty. I plan to audit the course as a refresher.
I also noticed on the edX course listing that there is an Introduction to Water and Climate course (CTB3300WCx) starting this week. Is anyone familiar with this course? Does it provide a balanced presentation of climate science? I noted with interest that CO2 was not mentioned anywhere in the course description.

Duke C.
August 24, 2014 5:22 pm

R can be downloaded here:
Wouldn’t hurt to become familiar with how to run simple scripts-

August 24, 2014 6:54 pm

John A, – Thanks for the info. I’m signed up.
Duke C. – Thanks for the download link
Joseph Shaw – That Water and Climate course looks interesting to me too.

I’m going to go ahead and sign up anyway and provide feedback here as the course progresses.
edX do seem to have quite a number and variety of courses. I’ve previously done some MOOCs with Coursera with no adverse effects.:)
The only oddity was the edX registration requested my mailing address. What point to that? Maybe some heavily armed Statisticians show up at my door if I don’t keep up with the course? 🙂
Looking forward to course videos. I think Swedish accents are great.

August 24, 2014 7:33 pm

I signed up, too. Thanks for the alert.
I am currently taking a Coursera series. But I’ve learned that with R, even more so than with other programming languages, there a many ways to accomplish the same task. It will be interesting to get another perspective and contrast the courses.

george e. smith
August 24, 2014 7:47 pm

So does R have some breakthrough new way to calculate the average of already exactly known numbers; ANY numbers; not just hatched, matched, and dispatched numbers (health) ??
I have something useful to do that day; so have fun.

August 24, 2014 9:21 pm

There’s no curriculum, and the course description makes it sound like R for people who don’t know statistics… at all. Sorry, I have stuff to do. If anyone runs across a fast-paced R course with advanced material, I would love to do that.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
August 24, 2014 11:45 pm

Hey, this one is startng tomorrow, August 26:

Introduction to Water and Climate
The basic elements of and the relation between water and climate are highlighted and further discussed together with their mutual coherence.

3. Water and climate change. In this module you will learn to identify mechanisms of climate change and you will learn to explain the interplay of climate change, sea level, clouds, rainfall and future weather.

5. Challenges. In this module you will learn to explain the challenges in better understanding and adapting to the impact of climate change on water for the coming 50 years.

Anyone you can get to check that course material?

August 25, 2014 6:44 am

I download R and sighed up for the course.

August 25, 2014 7:11 am

This sequence from Johns Hopkins gets people up to speed in R. All the courses are offered every month so you can hop in at any point in the sequence to match your skill level (and it is free).

August 25, 2014 10:04 am

I’m in…I’m tired of trying to wrap my head around concepts that I have no training in.

August 25, 2014 10:58 am

You can take Climate Literacy: Navigating Climate Change Conversations here:

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
August 25, 2014 11:24 am

From ES on August 25, 2014 at 10:58 am:

You can take Climate Literacy: Navigating Climate Change Conversations here:

I would not take any online course involving “Climate Change” without at least a preliminary review of course materials. Because likely I’d soon be finding nonsense I could quickly rebut with material from Tisdale and Eschenbach, among others. Except I wouldn’t be allowed to rebut as it’d likely get quickly rejected as blog scribblings by un-educated un-credentialed know-nothings, put your faith and trust in real scientists.
This would soon result in my just-emptied coffee mug impacting my flatscreen LCD monitor, which is actually my TV thus would disrupt my watching of local TV news. Which altogether would be annoying.

August 25, 2014 3:37 pm

I signed up some time ago. As a matter of fact, I had forgotten! :Thanks for the reminder.

gary turner
August 25, 2014 4:00 pm

I shall look into this for sure. I just installed the R package on the laptop. Lugging the desktop box, flat screen monitor and keyboard to Starbucks is getting to be a drag.
For those of you who use Emacs, check out the Emacs Speaks Statistics (ESS) package at http://ess.r-project.org/index.php?Section=home

August 25, 2014 5:51 pm

Thanks for the link! Going to take the course…

August 25, 2014 9:46 pm

I signed up too.
The terms of service are a bit over the top.

“…License Grant to edX. By submitting or distributing your User Postings, you hereby grant to edX a worldwide, non-exclusive, transferable, assignable, sub licensable, fully paid-up, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to host, transfer, display, perform, reproduce, modify, distribute, re-distribute, relicense and otherwise use, make available and exploit your User Postings, in whole or in part, in any form and in any media formats and through any media channels (now known or hereafter developed)…”

bolding is mine.
Be careful what you post; as others note, the data on the internet may be forever and possibly not as you posted it.

Non Nomen
August 26, 2014 12:10 am

Unfortunately, R cannot tell us how, by whom and to what extent raw data have been manipulated for the purpose of deceit. At least, we can think of the “why”.

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