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Computer Aided Statistics Textbooks

What is CAST?

CAST is a set of interactive digital textbooks designed to help teach statistics to university students and professionals. It was developed by Dr Doug Stirling, a Senior Lecturer at Massey University (New Zealand). CAST itself is actually a whole set of books, which cover a huge range of statistics topics, starting from core statistical ideas and moving to more advanced topics including advanced modelling, experimental design and statistical theory.


Interactive Tools for Education

CAST’s true strength lies in its interactive elements, which help explain many of the concepts in an active and engaging way. If you prefer to be more passive, you have the option to listen to the corresponding videos instead. There is also a series of exercises that support the mastery of many of the key statistical ideas. The use of CAST books, exercises and tests has shown to be effective at teaching applied statistics at a university level.

Example Exercise from CAST


Customising CAST

Another, lesser known feature of CAST is its adaptability. While the core CAST books from Massey are all available for downloading along with the main CAST program, you can also build your own textbooks from the existing materials. We developed textbooks customised to our eLearning courses. We had one chapter per topic, and only included sections relevant to the course.  Our experiences of this were included in one of the papers recently proceeded by the African Data Initiative as part of a wider discussion about open educational resources for statistics teaching:

Read the full paper here.

The CAST book designer is quite powerful, and even lets you write your own content if you know a bit of HTML and JavaScript. It’s not immediately obvious, so if you're just interested in using the pre-loaded books, it's easy to ignore. But for those who want more customisation, for example to create your own course books, you can enable the Advanced commands from the initial Start menu.

To get started with e-book customisation, you can either duplicate an existing book (recommended), or start from scratch. Either way, you can read more about the process in the CAST documentation on the Massey site.

If you're involved in statistics training, do you have any go-to tools or resources you want to recommend? Let us know in the comments, and check back soon for another post about one of our favourite resources.


Read about and download CAST:

Dave Mills
Author: Dave Mills

Dave developed an IT & data infrastructure that allows us to close information loops and deliver tailored information to diverse users, through data collecting mobile apps. He is also responsible for the development of our eLearning portfolio and Open Educational Resources.

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