A person "hits the ground running" if they begin new work and already know all the techniques and background information to be able to be fully productive almost immediately, needing very little training. I don't think that phrase is quite what you want.
For instance a course on R could start with the student sitting at the computer, launching R, and immediately making a script to type "Hello World". That's fully hands on right from the start, but it's different from a course, say in R where the first thing you do is download a dataset, import it into R, install some statistical software, and start doing analysis. A person in the second course would be expected to "hit the ground running" in terms of knowing the basics of R so they can jump right into learning the statistical software. A person in the first class might not be expected to know anything.