What is RStudio Cloud?

  • RStudio Cloud is a web service that delivers a browser-based experience similar to RStudio, the standard IDE for R users and developers.

Who can use RStudio Cloud?

  • RStudio Cloud is intended for use in courses by faculty and their students. It is not intended for research purposes or for individual use; in such cases, a stand-alone installation of RStudio running on a local system is the better choice.

How can I request access for use in a class I am teaching?

  • Please send an email to help@lafayette.edu requesting to use RStudio Cloud in a class, along with the course prefix, number and sections, e.g. MAT186 Sections 2 and 3, together with the semester of the course. ITS will provide access, permitting you and your students to access the service.

Can RStudio Cloud be used to conduct research?

  • RStudio Cloud is not conducive for intensive applications. Where computationally-intensive research is to be conducted, access to the ITS computational cluster, which has RStudio installed, can be requested with an email to help@lafayette.edu.

How do I access RStudio Cloud?

  • Once you have been granted access, navigate to the below URL and click the Log In via Lafayette College button where you’ll be redirected to the College’s single sign-on page:  https://sso.rstudio.cloud/lafayette-college
  • Note that when accessing RStudio Cloud for the first time, it will ask for a preferred username (and will provide a default option). Generally, the default can be accepted, but it may be customized if preferred. This username is mostly inconsequential unless there’s intention to use Shiny apps, etc.
  • IMPORTANT:  Once instructors reach the RStudio Cloud interface for the first time, before proceeding with any work, an email must be sent to help@lafayette.edu requesting the status of their account to be upgraded to “contributor”.

How do I set up RStudio Cloud for teaching?

  • Users are encouraged to read the documentation available from within the RStudio Cloud platform: rstudio.cloud/learn/guide
  • Instructors should typically create a space for each course they’re teaching. Each course space provides students with a place to access their assignments and to complete their coursework.  Instructors are able to share assignments and view student work.
  • To create a space, go to the navigation sidebar on the left (clicking the menu icon if needed) and choose “+ New Space“.
  • A sharable link to the space can be generated and distributed via email or through Moodle, etc., enabling students to be automatically added. This link can later be disabled to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Within a space, multiple projects can be created, which broadly correspond to assignments.

RStudio Cloud Accounts and Spaces

  • Both a personal and an organizational account is created for each RStudio Cloud user. The College provides an organizational account to enable instructors to host course spaces for each class.  The organizational account is named “Lafayette College”.
  • IMPORTANT:  Course spaces must be created using the College’s organizational account, rather than a personal account which has significant limitations. A drop-down box confirms the account that is to be used.  This drop-down defaults to the personal account and must be changed.

RStudio Cloud Projects

  • Within each course space, instructors can create multiple projects that can be thought of as distinct and isolated RStudio environments. These broadly correspond to assignments. Each project can be set as the current default, presenting students with the current assignment when they login, complete with its associated files.
  • If a project is explicitly marked as an assignment, each student will automatically receive an individual, private copy of it. This enables instructors to provide customized environments, with different modules and even system utilities, for each assignment.
  • Note that once students clone a project, it can no longer be centrally updated.

How can I add a new R package?

  • Once a course space has been created, it’s possible to configure all projects within that space with a default set of files and packages. Instructors can accomplish this by defining a base project.
  • Create a new project and add all the necessary files and packages for the projects that will be created within that course space. Configure the project so that all members of the course space can access it.  Now go to the space settings page using the gear icon to the upper right, and from the drop-down labeled Base Project, select the project.
  • Note that when a project has been specified as the base project, it will no longer be listed in the space’s available projects.
  • In addition, any specific project can be further customized with files and packages as needed.

How can I distribute files to students?

  • There are two primary methods that can be used to distribute files to students.
  1. The simplest method is for instructors to configure each project with the files prior to sharing the project with the class. When students clone the project, they’ll receive a duplicate of the files.
  2. Alternatively, data or zip files can be shared through a Moodle course site. Students may download a copy to their local computer.  From the relevant project, users can navigate the directory structure via the file viewer window found to the lower-right of the RStudio interface. From that window, click Upload. The option is available to upload a single data file, or to a zip archive file. Archive files will automatically expand once uploaded.
  • Note that it may be preferable to first create a new folder in which to store uploaded files so they’re expanded in a manageable way. To do so, click the New Folder button.

Can I link GitHub to RStudio Cloud

  • A GitHub account can be linked to RStudio Cloud by clicking the user’s name in the upper-right of the RStudio Cloud interface, and then selecting Authentication. Check the Enable box adjacent to the GitHub option, and the page will be redirected to the GitHub authentication page.
  • While the exact steps are beyond the scope of this document, a Git repository can be used to create a project, into which all necessary files can be added.
  • Once a project has been created in GitHub, it can be imported into RStudio Cloud by selecting the drop-down  button adjacent to the New Project button.  Select “New Project from Git Repository” and enter the “URL of your Git Repository”.
  • Note that when creating a project within a Git repository, read permissions should be set to Public in order for users to import it.

Is collaborative editing available in RStudio Cloud?

  • Collaborative editing, similar to that provided by Google Docs, is not yet available.  The RStudio Cloud team hopes to introduce this feature in the coming months.
  • The RStudio Cloud interface provides information about newly introduced features on a page entitled What’s New.

Where can I get help with RStudio Cloud?

As a service provided directly by RStudio, there are several sources of information and assistance that can be leveraged.  RStudio provide documentation:  rstudio.cloud/learn/guide

For technical issues relating to the RStudio Cloud service, email support@rstudio.cloud

For general support including issue logging in, send an email to help@lafayette.edu or contact the Lafayette Service Desk directly at (610) 330-5501.

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