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Beginner’s Python for Data Analysis – Review

Adam Keeley, Analyst at Leeds Institute for Data Analytics, shares his thoughts on our recent online Beginner’s Python for Data Analysis course.

The CDRC Beginner’s Python for Data Analysis training course was outstanding. I’m actually not a complete novice when it comes to Python, and I suspect a few others in the class also had varying levels of experience already. The course was structured such that it covered off the basics of object oriented language without dwelling on them. This helped fill in the gaps in my baseline understanding and ensured we were all quickly up to a similar standard.

The delivery of the content was well paced. When new concepts were introduced we were talked through some worked examples before being asked to work through a set of exercises on our own. Except we were never on our own; Fran and her demonstrators were always on hand to offer help and guidance in a friendly and constructive way. The course structure was logical and methodical with each new concept built on principles previously established and embedded through active application. There were no great conceptual leaps so at no point did I feel lost or wondering ‘how on earth did we get to that?’.

Inevitably when remotely delivering practical training of this nature, there were some technical issues. Impressive efforts were made to proactively sidestep these through the use of online, containerised environments. Every one of us began working from a standardised online environment, set up in advance with all of the required software and package dependencies available. Unfortunately the internet connections of the class were of varying reliability and some of us failed to connect consistently. The order of the course schedule was changed to get us set up on our own machines early but again, the remote delivery meant that every machine was different and the subsequent technical issues threatened to dominate the experience. I was extremely impressed with how well the delivery team handled the situation, providing technical support to all of us both as a group and individually when required. We were soon working with data again and probably with a greater understanding of Python as a result.

One benefit of the online delivery was the open chat enabled us to help each other out as we found solutions, not just troubleshooting the Python environment but in the exercises too. I found my fellow students friendly and keen to offer help when they were able. Coupled with the delivery teams knowledgeable and amiable nature this helped foster an environment where asking questions was easy.

By the end of the two day course many of us were thinking of ways to implement what we’d learnt in our workplace or include it in our research. Many of us were asking questions about the techniques and concepts we’d learnt, in terms of specific application to data and problems we face in the working world. These questions were answered helpfully and with a breadth of knowledge, with tips on where to learn more.

I would definitely recommend this course to anyone curious if Python might be useful to them, or for whom programming does not feel accessible. This course will let you in on the big secret: programming doesn’t have to be difficult!