Computer programming is becoming an increasingly important part of biology (my own discipline) and a range of other subjects. Programming allows the analysis of data, the creation of software and the building of online resources and interfaces. There are a range of online courses that you can take to develop these skills, and use as teaching aids for students, that cover a lot of different languages with different applications:
An Example of Use
CodeSchool runs a course called “Try R
“, which offers a few hours of interactive training in the R environment. For those of you not familiar with theR language
, R is an open source programming language that is mostly built around data manipulation and analysis. The course itself loads within the website, with a simulated R environment within which the student can work. The content covered includes: syntax, vectors, matrices, summary statistics, factors, data frames, and “working with real-world data”. At Leeds we teach our MSc Biodiversity and Conservation students in R for a short period, but this is the kind of tool that the students can use to familiarise themselves more completely with the language. It could also be a gentle introduction to some of the R-based MOOCs that are run by Coursera.