Game on! Here's a fun way to learn SAS

17

Sasensei logoSAS offers myriad ways to level up your SAS skills (scroll to the bottom to see a list of SAS-provided learning paths and channels). In this post, I introduce you to Sasensei, an independent, third-party online SAS learning resource that I enjoy a lot.

Learning: dull or fun?

Learning is not always associated with fun. Sometimes it feels difficult and exhausting. New concepts often contradict our prior knowledge and experience, compelling us to rethink, adjust, change and adapt to new paradigms.

Learning new ideas, skills and technologies can be intimidating, challenging and demanding. While learning, you are stretching out of your comfort zone. But that feeling is only transient. As a matter of attitude, learning is not about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, it’s about expanding your comfort zone. And that is long lasting. The more you learn, the more comfortable and self-confident you become.

Learning does not have to be tedious. Look at pre-school kids. They learn basic life skills like walking (rolling, crawling), talking (in one or more languages), asking questions (a lot) – all without taking classes, just through their natural curiosity and ... playing games.

What is Sasensei? Gamified SAS learning

When I first discovered the Sasensei online SAS learning game/application I was pleasantly surprised by its non-traditional approach to learning such a serious and well-established platform as SAS.

As stated on its website, “Sasensei is a question based learning system. You must demonstrate your command of SAS® to earn Tokens - which should be wisely invested, to enable you to unlock new levels within the game...”

The following screenshot shows the main page of the Sasensei website that displays a dashboard of the top players (they call it leaderboard). You can filter it geographically - by Country, Continent, or World, as well as by the timeline – by Past Month, Past Year, or All Time.

Sasensei leaderboard

Privacy or prominence

Users have full control of their privacy or prominence. As you can see in the screenshot above, registered users are displayed by their screen names. This allows the users to either remain anonymous by selecting some fictitious obscure screen name or use their real name. Users can change their screen name at any time.

Rules of the game

In this blog post I provide just an overview of the main functionality and features of the Sasensei learning platform. For detailed rules of the game, see Sasensei Documentation.

Play and learn

Users are offered a variety of learning activities:

  • Viewing, reviewing and submitting SAS-learning flashcards;
  • Playing, reviewing and submitting questions by different SAS-related topics;
  • Taking and creating public, private, multi-player and custom quizzes;
  • Providing feedback on questions and flashcards by voting and commenting.

Users can challenge themselves by delving into different topics. Your successes and failures will provide you an honest and objective estimation of your SAS strengths as well as weaknesses. A healthy competition with other users encourages you to learn more and hone your SAS skills. When you fail a question, you can review the explanation of the correct answer and thus learn why you failed and acquire new knowledge, tips and tricks quickly and efficiently.

Invest, score, win and build a reputation

To play you will need to earn and spend tokens which are essentially the game’s currency. To motivate you further, you also earn reputation points, which is your ultimate score, a level of achievement in demonstrating SAS skills. Your reputation score is prominently displayed in your public profile. As you progress in the game and your reputation grows, additional functionality unlocks and becomes available to you. Your reputation score determines your Sasensei standing level which is derived from those used in martial arts:

Sasensei title Sasamurai title

  • White Belt (new players)
  • Yellow Belt (reputation ≥ 50)
  • Green Belt (reputation ≥ 100)
  • Black Belt (reputation ≥ 200)
  • Sasamurai (reputation ≥ 500)
  • Assassin (reputation ≥ 1000)
  • Sasensei (reputation ≥ 5000)

Sample Sasensei question

When you play a question, you select a topic, and then you are presented with a randomly selected multiple-choice question of a specified time limit (30, 60, 90 or 120 seconds). Here is a sample of such question:

Question:

What is wrong with the following LIBNAME statement?
libname fruits (apples oranges tomatoes);

Answers:

  • Incorrect syntax
  • You cannot mix apples and oranges in LIBNAME statement
  • Nothing is wrong, valid LIBNAME statement
  • Tomatoes are not fruits, therefore the statement is not correct

Correct answer:

Nothing is wrong, valid LIBNAME statement

Explanation:

According to SAS documentation this statement is valid and defines a concatenated library. Yes, you can combine apples with oranges, and even with tomatoes, and that will enable you to access the SAS data sets in several libraries with one libref. See Combine and conquer with SAS for examples of usage.

Question
Try tackling a question on your own in the Sasensei environment to get real life experience: Sample Question.

Take a Sasensei sample quiz

There are various quizzes available at Sasensei: public quizzes, multiplayer quiz games, private quizzes (tests) for students.

A public quiz contains 12 questions with a total time cap of 12 minutes, and costs eight tokens to play. You can choose a single topic (sas statements, sas macro, procedures, options, etc.), and if you pass (75% or more) you get 12 tokens back, plus 20 point to your reputation. If you get 100%, you get 30 reputation points plus Top Student badge. A count of passed sessions (by topic) is displayed on your public profile.

QuizAlthough public quizzes are unlocked at the SASamurai level, for the readers of this blog, I have created a special custom quiz sample so you can experience it firsthand right here, right now. Just click on this link, Sample Quiz, register, and enjoy your ride.

See you at the top of the Sasensei dashboard!

Credit

Big THANKS to Allan Bowe (United Kingdom) – SAS innovator and entrepreneur who created and founded Sasensei learning platform.

Other SAS learning resources

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About Author

Leonid Batkhan

Leonid Batkhan, Ph.D. in Computer Science and Automatic Control Systems, has been a SAS user for more than 25 years. He came to work for SAS in 1995 and is currently a Senior Consultant with the SAS Federal Data Management and Business Intelligence Practice. During his career, Leonid has successfully implemented dozens of SAS applications and projects in various industries. All posts by Leonid Batkhan >>>

17 Comments

  1. Great introduction to SASENSEI.

    I confess, I am addicted to it. I have learned something new everytime I play.

    It's fun, it's a challenge, a nice mind break and exercise.

    Kudos to the Question submitters. Reviewing them, I am gearing up to submit a question. The reviewers give such great suggestions and encouragement.

    BIRDIEMOMA
    Deb

    • Leonid Batkhan

      Thank you, Kiran, for your input. Indeed, this platform is useful for SAS developers of any level. Even seasoned SAS programmers will find a lot of useful knowledge snippets as well as identify their "blind spots". Great brain exercise.

  2. Thank you for posting that it could be just the thing to give inspiration to someone who needs it! Keep up the great work!

  3. I really love Sasensei! Due to time limitation I cannot use it as often I would love to but this is a creative portal to learn and practise SAS skill with fun.

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