By: Diane Stirling
(315) 443-8975

The School of Information Studies (iSchool) is repeating its popular massive online open course (MOOC) offering in Data Science, in an adapted form, beginning October 28.

Based on participant feedback, the free course now is being offered as a self-paced model, rather than having a four-week completion deadline. The MOOC still provides the full curriculum as previously provided, and uses the same e-textbook, An Introduction to Data Science. An added benefit of the ongoing, self-paced model is that book author and iSchool senior associate dean and data science faculty lead Dr. Jeffrey Stanton will develop the instruction.

The course, “Applied Data Science, An Introduction,” will maintain the same format to include individual assignments and quizzes, permitting participants to assess their skills and learning with those tools. Community building will be encouraged for student participants via an online class discussion group. As before, those who successfully complete the course will be able to receive certificates of completion for professional development.

The free course provides a taste of what comprises this emerging science, and an understanding of what it means to work as a data scientist. As part of the curriculum, class participants will review the most popular open source data science tool, the R statistical analysis and visualization system. The iSchool’s approach to the subject uses the distinct perspective of data science with a view of the full data life cycle, going beyond what most discuss as data analytics.

“This is a new approach to a MOOC where we are trying to complement the free eBook, “Introduction to Data Science,” with additional materials such as lectures and quizzes,” Professor Stanton noted. “We plan to keep adding to the MOOC site in order to cover larger and larger amounts of the eBook. That way, for people who don't just want to read a book, there will be additional ways to learn the skills.”

The iSchool’s first free course, “A Brief Introduction to Data Science with R,” drew interest levels more than three times the number of slots initially reserved for student enrollment.

“This offering provides a really good way for people interested in the iSchool’s certificate of advanced studies in Data Science to try out the topic,” suggested Erin Bartolo, iSchool program manager for Data Science. “It’s a nice gateway opportunity for people who may have an interest in the topic to explore what data science is all about, using this as an entry point. A lot of people seem question their ability to learn data science, so this helpfully puts some concrete parameters around the topic, and shows how technical someone needs to be in order to complete the CAS program, before they actually dive into it.”

More information on the iSchool’s Data Science program is available on the website, including registration details.