Teaching with SAS Viya for Learners: Last Report

I used SAS Viya for Learners to teach data analytics to undergraduate business students for one semester.

I’ll start with the benefits of SAS Viya: It’s free; It’s visually appealing and requires no coding; There are some SAS tutorial materials that teachers can use; The way decision tree results are displayed makes intuition easy for students who are new to data mining.

I made a post earlier in which I reported that it actually works. I still think that, but at the end of the semester I did have individual students experience errors and mysterious interruptions to service. It made me wonder if the server gets busy at the end of an academic semester.

SAS is known for making excellent products and charging high fees for them. Since SAS Viya is free, they aren’t going to be giving all the functionality with it. The free version does not let students import any data. There is a sandbox of data to learn with, which is more than enough to fill a semester. I didn’t even open most of the available data sets.

My students did their final projects by choosing one of the pre-loaded datasets and using that for analysis. As far as applying the principles I taught, this was fine. In one sense, it was easier than telling them to fend for themselves and find data on the world wide web.

The downside is that the software-specific skills students learn from free student SAS Viya can’t be used on a project for work or for a different class. Eventually, any useful work involves importing new data.

The decision to use SAS Viya for Learners instead of R should depend on what your students want to do next. Both products will allow them to learn concepts and common functions.

If you are going to use SAS Viya, I highly recommend using the tutorials made by SAS with screenshot-by-screenshot instructions. You can give the instructions to the students, so students aren’t coming to you with questions about every click they need to make.

I paired SAS Viya with a Business Intelligence Textbook. Also note that students had already taken a traditional Business Statistics course previously.

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