Project Hours Exceeded Very Quickly on Instructor Account

I am trying to sort out how the pricing and project hour usage works with an instructor account something seems very off to me.

I paid for the $15 instructor account, and asked all my students to sign up for the $5 "plus" account.

Now less than 2 weeks into my course I received a message that I have burned through all my hours and am being charged even more per hour. This is all with a relatively small class of 20 for a 10 week summer course. During the school year there could be as many as 80 students in my 15 week course.

I thought RStudio Cloud was going to be a great tool for teaching, but either I am doing something wrong in my set-up or the pricing makes no sense.

Hello,

The instructor plan comes with 160 project-hours / month that you and your students (that you've invited to your class) can consume in your account for no additional cost. Usage consumed above the 160 project-hours / month are billed at 20¢ per additional project hour. You can see your usage details by navigating to your Account page (click on the top right user icon), then selecting usage.

If you are seeing unexpected usage numbers, we're happy to look those over as well and verify that your usage is correct. You might want to open a tech support ticket so we can retrieve your account information and look at the same data you're seeing. The best way to open a tech support ticket is through the Technical Support link in the left navigation menu (under Help).

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Thank you,
Omar

I am not sure if the numbers are expected or not. This is my first time using RStudio Cloud to teach a course.

I assume the idea of an "Instructor" account is that you want people using RStudio Cloud to teach courses. But my small short summer class has burned through 160 hours before the second week is over. I have no idea how RStudio Cloud could ever be used for my larger classes that last a full semester. I even had my students purchase the "plus" account but it still seems to be burning mostly the hours on my Instructor account.

Hi @politicalEconomist,

A project consumes project hours according to this formula:

(RAM + CPUs allocated) / 2 x hours active

So a project running for 2 "wall clock" hours configured to use 4GB of RAM and 1 CPU will use 20 project hours. How your projects are configured can significantly affect how they consume project hours.

If you created the space that your students are working in, all project hours consumed in that space will be attributed to your account, and whether or not your students have Plus subscriptions won't matter in that configuration. We don't have an easy way for students to pay for their own project hours in a space yet, but we do have a "workaround" documented in the Guide.

I hope this helps -- I can see on our side that you've opened a support ticket (thank you!), and we will follow up there also.

Best,
Mel

Mel,

I appreciate the response, but to be honest I have no idea what most of it means. Why would 1 hour of actual use equal 10 hours of use. That's bizarre. The fact that students paid for the "plus" account, but all their hours are charged to me instead is really weird.

The reality is that I am looking at a likely $50 bill just for the 1st month of trying to teach with RStudio Cloud. And that is with only 20 students in my course. It also appears that my students are paying $5 a month for no reason at all. At this point I will have to eat all that cost myself for this summer class, but I can't imagine what the cost would be for my normal group of 80 students using RStudio in a semester.

The reason I am using RStudio Cloud is to reduce the complications students will encounter. So a complicated multi-step work around is not really a solution. The amount of hand holding it would take for me to walk them through all the steps in the work around would probably be better spent having them just install R and RStudio locally. So I will probably just return to using RStudio on students local machines and lab computers if there is no counts effective way for me to easily use Rstudio Cloud. Doing that is a pain at the beginning of the semester, but there is no way I can swing the pricing you guys have for instructors.

Frankly, I don't think I should not be paying anything at all for an instructor license that is used only to teach a course, I think the students should be paying about $10 a month for their cloud accounts that automatically copies any assignments their own account and burns their hours when they are using Temporary Copies.

I appreciate the responses, I know the instructor accounts are a relatively new thing and I hope they will become more usable because it really could be a game changer for instructors of R and RStudio.

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Hi @politicalEconomist,

Thanks for your response, and I'm sorry for the confusion here. If I understand what you're saying correctly, it sounds like you want a configuration where your students pay for their own hours used, is that correct?

If I have that right, this is on our roadmap, but we don't currently offer that out of the box today with RStudio Cloud spaces. At present, all project hours accumulated in a space are the responsibility of the account that owns the space (i.e. yours). We do have a couple of options that might get you close to this, but they have various tradeoffs:

  1. The first option is the one I linked to above, where you can use a space as a "jumping off" point and have your students copy projects you share there and then move their projects to their own spaces in order to do work (you can also move their projects). Once the projects are out of your space, any hours they accumulate will no longer be your responsibility. Unfortunately, it also means you won't be able to access them until they are moved back.

  2. The second option is to create projects in Your Workspace and change their access to public. This is different from creating projects in a space you created -- all public projects created in Your Workspace can be accessed by anyone with the link (not just students in your space), and opening them will not charge hours to you.

Unfortunately, I don't think either of these options is quite as simple as what you're after.

Why does 1 hour of actual use equal 10 hours of use.

I'm sorry my example was confusing there -- my point was that how your projects are configured can really affect how they consume project hours. Projects are configured to use a 1 GB of RAM and 1 CPU by default. In the default configuration, 1 project hour = 1 hour of "wall clock" time. If you had bumped your projects up to max RAM though, they'd go through your project hours a lot faster because they would be using significantly more resources while they run. (After I responded yesterday I did a bit of digging on our side -- it doesn't look like this is the case for you.)

Anyway, I wanted to respond here since I think a lot of this information is relevant for other folks too, and we'll also be responding to your support ticket shortly over on that channel. Thanks for your patience with this -- we want RStudio Cloud to be easy for you to use too, and I hope we're able to get something to work for you.

Best,
Mel

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I ran into the same issue. My take is that unless you teach a 1-day seminar where you don't have time to troubleshoot, RStudio Cloud is not worth it. Students and instructors end up paying a non trivial amount of money for using an instance with a 1GB RAM memory. If I understand the pricing correctly, the simple fact that they keep an RStudio Cloud tab open will still consume project hours at a x0.5 rate.

Thanks for the feedback - we definitely want to make sure RStudio Cloud is "worth it", so I want to make sure you're aware that there are two ways you can purchase RStudio Cloud for instructional use.

One is the "pay as you go" subscription approach. You pay $15 / month for the instructor, and then 20¢ per hour of usage above 160 hours by you and your students in your course spaces(s). There is no payment required from the students. If you and your students are making fairly limited use of Cloud, this is likely the best deal for you. To sign up for this plan, click the "Subscribe" button on the Cloud Instructor plan page (https://rstudio.cloud/plans/instructor).

The other is the "pay in advance" approach. Here, you pay up front $15 / month for the instructor and $5 / month per student for the length of the course. There are no usage charges in this model - it's a fixed price based only on the number of students and duration of the course. For this model, press the "Request a Quote" button on the Cloud Instructor plan page (https://rstudio.cloud/plans/instructor).

Note that in either approach, you can allocate instances up to 8GB and 4CPU per project as needed.

If this still feels excessive, we'd love to hear an approach that would work better for you ... our goal is to make Cloud very affordable for instructional use.

Thanks,
Robby

I have a project in my Workspace with the packages and data they will need, with Access set to Everyone. There is nothing confidential and the url is posted to the class Moodle page, which only registered students can visit. When a student uses that link the project is loaded with Temporary Copy in pulsating red text and a button to Save a Permanent Copy. Once they save it as a new project in their own workspace, it is running on their time. If they fail to do that, all their work will vanish when they close the project. I will also remind them the next class. I have not had any students forget more than once. If a student somehow uses more than their monthly hours, I will add them to the shared class workspace until the next month starts. That has happened just once.

160 hours may sound a lot, but really RCloud is most convenient when you have a lot of students, because then the cost of troubleshooting individually will scale. I have up to 40 students, but I'm sure other faculty can easily have 80-100. I feel that RCloud pricing is NOT designed with these numbers in mind, but is rather tailored to smaller audience of professionals who are investing big dollars for a 1-2 days workshop, or audiences who will work on the project for a fixed amount of total hours.

In higher ed, with students working on assignments and group projects on their own, costs are simply out of control.

A first step in the right direction would be to control costs for sessions that are left sitting idle. Upon re-reading the formula that @mel I've noticed costs are calculated on allocated memory, not actual consumption? So my problem is not to waste money because some students do their assignments during a Netflix marathon thereby running 3 lines of code every 12 "active hours."

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Everyone's financial situation is different, but we do have many universities running courses with many hundreds of students per course on Cloud. Most of them opt for the pay in advance/fixed price model mentioned above at $5 / student per month. This guarantees that regardless of the amount of usage by you and your students, you pay a known amount.

We do automatically shut down any idle session after 15 minutes - please let us know if you're not seeing that behavior and we will investigate. After 15 minutes, an idle project should display this message in place of the IDE:
image

Fixed price per month for an entire semester sounds great, except when you realize that the instructor has to front all the costs.

Since Rstudio works on calendar months, not academic months, Fall semester for me would be Sep1 (week 2)-Dec 31, or 4 months. For a large (for me) class, of which I could have 3 of in any given semester,

$154 + $54*40 = $860. --> at least 100 of which is total overhead b/c 2 weeks out of December we won't be using the cloud.

No one I know would consider that a reasonable out of pocket cost for the instructor to have to pay just to use the cloud, no matter how much time savings there is in terms of troubleshooting. Even if there is a small bit of discount for up front pricing, not a chance my department would even consider this for a moment as something they would pay. Especially with student enrollments tanking and budgets being slashed.

This pricing model really is not designed for public/state/small schools, or even the academic calendar.

I can see how as an out of pocket cost, it's a lot. Some questions for you:

  • What would a reasonable out of pocket cost look like for you?
  • If you could have each student pay their own $5/monthly fee, would that be a viable option for you and your students?
  • I'm not sure I understand the difference between calendar months and academic months, but to be clear, Cloud subscriptions/purchases run from your start date (i.e. they don't begin on the first day of the month).

Thanks,
Robby

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  • I don't think instructors should have to pay for anything out of pocket. Just like K12 teachers shouldn't have to buy their own whiteboard markers. Rstudio should be encouraging faculty to use their software in the classroom as we have the ability to impact a huge number of students - which are potential new customers when they enter the job force.
  • I would consider $5/month ($20-25/semester) for students reasonable if the monthly usage ceiling is higher. My average student usage is closer to 40-50 active hours/month.
    • This specifically is for the student to be able to work in the instructors workspace. One of the important features of the Cloud is the ability for the instructor to view/manage/debug their student's projects directly.
  • The rolling start date is good, and new information for me. Likely because the last quote for a fixed rate i was given started on the 1st of the month so that's what was stuck in my head. For a typical 16 week semester, 2 weeks are still being unused which in the grand scope (and for $5/month) that's not horrible.

Thanks for your reply - it's very helpful and we'll keep it in mind as we review/update our pricing going forward.

Our overall goal is to make Cloud as affordable as possible for instructional use - we would offer it for free (as we do with our on-premise products when used for instruction), but since we incur significant hosting costs running RStudio.cloud, we're not yet able to do so. We have, and will continue, to find ways to reduce our hosting costs, and expect to pass on those savings in the form of reduced prices and/or additional hours included with our plans ... so stay tuned.

Thanks again,
Robby

Just a quick follow up re: hours: This week we increased the hours included with our plans - the details are here: RStudio Cloud What's New

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