Advanced digital investigations: Sign up for Knight Center course to learn how to dig into information and sources online

Put on your investigative reporter's cap because the latest online course from the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas will show how to find the names, faces and more behind digital assets.

"Advanced digital investigations: How reporters can dig into online information and sources” runs from June 12 to July 16, 2023. Read the syllabus and more information, including how to register, at journalismcourses.org.

Advanced Digital Investigations

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In five weeks, course instructors Craig Silverman and Jane Lytvynenko will teach how to investigate social media profiles, digital ads, messaging apps, images and video! You’ll also learn how to build a workflow to gather and organize all the material you’ve collected.

Each week of the course focuses on a particular module.

  • Module 1 looks at best practices for monitoring and collecting all the digital assets you’ve chosen, including using select tools to archive content.
  • Module 2 covers how to find sources on social media and the messaging application Telegram.
  • Module 3 teaches how to analyze visual material, and reviews geolocation and image verification.
  • Module 4 reviews how to analyze the content, infrastructure and connections of a website.
  • Module 5 focuses on investigating digital ads, including the money trails behind them.

This is a big online course (BOC), which means the lessons will be more advanced and the course will be limited to a few hundred students, instead of thousands as in the massive open online courses (MOOCs) that the Knight Center offers. Therefore, there will also be more room for interaction between students and the instructors.

Unlike MOOCs, which are free and attract thousands of people, BOCs cost US $95, including full access to the course and a certificate of completion for those who meet course requirements. There is no formal academic credit associated with the certificate.

This isn’t the first course on digital investigations that Silverman and Lytvynenko have taught for the Knight Center. In 2020, they taught, along with Brandy Zadrozny and Johanna Wild, an extremely popular MOOC that attracted more than 6,000 students from 155 countries. The next year Silverman and Lytvynenko led a BOC on investigative reporting in platforms that reached more than 500 students.

Silverman is an award-winning journalist and author, and a leading expert on online disinformation, fake news and digital investigations. He’s a national reporter with ProPublica investigating voting, platforms, disinformation and online manipulation. Silverman is current editor of the European Journalism Centre’s Verification Handbook series and author of the Digital Investigations newsletter. He was previously media editor at BuzzFeed News.

Lytvynenko, a freelance reporter, focuses on Russia’s war on Ukraine, technology, disinformation and social media. She is a recognized industry leader in disinformation research and reporting. Previously, Lytvynenko was a senior research fellow at the Tech and Social Change Project at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center, and she also investigated and uncovered online manipulators while working at BuzzFeed News.

Silverman and Lytvynenko will teach the course using video lectures, readings and exercises, discussion forums and quizzes.

Anyone interested in learning how to advance their digital investigative skills is invited to register.

For the course, students need an internet connection, the Chrome web browser and their own Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and Instagram accounts. Students also need to access a variety of free tools, which can be viewed in the course syllabus.

Like all Knight Center courses, this BOC is asynchronous, meaning students can complete the activities on the days and at the times that work best for their own schedules. However, there are recommended deadlines so students don’t fall behind.

So, gumshoes, trade in your worn leather shoes for a laptop and start digging into online information and sources. Sign up for this exciting course today!

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