Knight Center
Knight Center


Knight Center's MOOC "Introduction to Data Journalism" starts with 3,000 students and high participation

The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas' second Massive Open Online Course (or MOOC) in Spanish, “Introduction to Data Journalism," began on Monday, May 13 with more than 3,000 students and high participation. Registration to the course is still open.

Brief moments after its official launch, several students from Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula had already entered the course.

“It's very exciting to see the bubbles popping up fast in so many countries on Google Analytics in the first minutes of the MOOC,” said Professor Rosental Calmon Alves, director and founder of the Knight Center. “The bubbles on the Google map show dozens of participants starting to take the course in the middle of the night in most countries in Latin America.”

The course started with 3,096 registered students from more than 50 nations. Spain and Mexico were the countries with the most participants with around 500 each, followed by Brazil and Argentina with about 300 respectively, and Colombia and Venezuela with some 200 each. Students have also signed up from other countries like Germany, Australia, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Finland, Israel, Japan, Mozambique, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Turkey.

The five-week course in Spanish will be free of cost and will take place from May 13 to June 16, 2013. Just like the Knight Center's two previous MOOCs, the course will be open to anyone in the world with an Internet connection.

The instructor for the course is award-winning journalist Sandra Crucianelli, who has specialized in investigative and precision journalism, with an emphasis in digital sources and database journalism. Since 2004 she has taught several courses through the Knight Center's Distance Learning platform. She is also a member of the advising council for the Center for Digital Journalism at the University of Guadalajara, Mexico, an instructor at the Media Center in Florida International University (FIU) and founder of Solo Local.Info, a project in hyperlocal digital journalism. She is the author of the book "eDigital Tools for Journalists," published in Spanish and Portuguese by the Knight Center. She is a Knight International Journalism Fellow that has researched the journalism applications of open data in the last two years.

Screenshot of our Google Analytics map during the first hours of the MOOC “Introduction to Data Journalism."

“Introdution for Data Journalism" will cover the basic concepts of data journalism, an overview of the current state of the practice around the world, new digital tools for searching and data mining, an introduction to math and statistics for journalists, visual information handling techniques, and best practices in the development of news apps.

Crucianelli's course will include videos, tutorials, reading materials, exercises and quizzes. Just like the Knight Center's other MOOCs, the course will be divided in weekly modules and will be completely asynchronous, meaning there will be no live lectures. Even though students can take the course at the times of their choosing, each weekly module will have deadlines for submitting the quizzes and participating in the forums.

The Knight Center's MOOCs have been highly popular since the beginning of the program in October last year.

Last week, the Knight Center's first MOOC in Spanish, "How to Improve Electoral Coverage" with Colombian investigative journalist María Teresa Ronderos, concluded successfully. The course had 1,772 participants.

The first Knight Center MOOC was "Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization," taught last year by instructor Alberto Cairo with more than 2,000 students. The course was so well received that the Knight Center offered a second edition this year, identical to the first. It started on Jan. 12, with 5,000 students from 133 countries and concluded on Feb. 23.

"Those were the first MOOCs on journalism in the world, as far as we know. This is all very, very exciting indeed," Alves said.

The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas was created in 2002 by Professor Rosental Alves at the University of Texas at Austin School of Journalism thanks to a generous donation from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which has been supporting it continually. The Center also receives major contributions from the Open Society Foundations and The University of Texas at Austin. The Center's main goal is to help journalists in Latin American and the Caribbean to improve the quality of journalism in their countries.