Thanks @mishabalyasin and @mine. I agree that the zero-to-data-8 approach is not straightforward either. However, perhaps this could be managed at the university level and then instructors could supply docker containers to be made available to students.
That said, Rstudio cloud looks very promising. Thanks for sharing the slides and video @mine! The ability to provide a base project template with the package versions students should use is great although I noticed that installing packages from source can causes some (e.g., readr or xgboost).
A key concern for me with moving to cloud is how to access files on the server from a shiny app and extract file paths. I use radiant extensively with my students and being able to access files and file paths is important. It works fine when everything is installed on laptops but is not as smooth (yet) on a server (see e.g., this issue).
Sharing of projects through cloud and/or git looks very convenient on Rstudio Cloud as well. @mine Do you by any change also have resources on using GitHub classroom? I have been using GitLab with an Rstudio addin I developed (https://vnijs.github.io/gitgadget) where the instructor can create and fork repos for students and then create merge requests for them after the due-date. The main issue with previous git based class solutions I have seen is that once students submit their work, they could see each others submissions as well. Does GitHub class room address that issue?
For classes where instructors use python we would also need access to python and Jupyter Lab which I assume is not possible with Rstudio Cloud. I'd prefer to use Rstudio for this as well but we can't make instructors use it of course