Expand Your Data Journalism Toolkit with Knight Center’s R Programming Language Course

After more than 3,300 students from 131 countries enrolled in Knight Center’s latest course in the statistical programming language R, we’ve heard the calls for more advanced training on this powerful tool for journalists.

That’s why instructor Andrew Ba Tran, investigative data reporter at The Washington Post, is back to give us another lecture on the subject.

“Advanced Data Journalism – Doing More with R” runs from September 5 to October 2, 2022 and registration is now open!

“By the end of the course, students should be comfortable importing and manipulating large datasets and experimenting with different visualizations to find hidden patterns and insights in numbers,” Tran said. “They should also better understand how to bring in, collect and analyze data from APIs or pulled from websites, as well as how to apply statistical methods to their stories.”

Each week of classes will focus on a different topic:

  • Week 1 familiarizes you with data and R, reviewing the basics you will need for your projects
  • Week 2 reviews common data management tasks and provides an introduction to exploratory data visualization
  • Week 3 teaches how to extract and transform unstructured data online into structured data that can be analyzed and turned into stories
  • Week 4 focuses on regression analysis and modeling, examining how they have been used for journalism

This is a large online course (BOC), which means that the lessons will be more advanced and the course will be limited to a few hundred students, instead of thousands. So there will also be more room for interaction between the students and the instructor. Unlike MOOCs, which are free and attract thousands of people, BOCs cost US$95, including full course access and a certificate of completion for those who meet course requirements. There is no formal academic credit associated with the certificate.

Tran said this course will differ from his previous Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) with Knight Center in that it will be more focused on getting data from accessing APIs and scrapers, “as well as how to think about incorporating statistics into reporting.”

“There are plenty of great tutorials out there on how to create sophisticated data visualizations with R, but few on equipping journalists with the tools to get data through R programming,” Tran continued.

The data journalist said he’s seen exciting new developments with R in newsrooms since he taught the last course, including more spatial analysis, text mining and sentiment analysis and 3D mapping. Tran will teach this course using video lectures, tutorials and exercises, discussion forums and quizzes.

Tran is a data reporter for the Washington Post’s Rapid Response Investigative Team. He previously worked as a data editor at Connecticut Mirror’s TrendCT.org and as a data producer at the Boston Globe. He has contributed to investigative projects and current affairs reporting that have won the Pulitzer Prize. He is a Metpro Scholar and a Chips Quinn Scholar. He has also taught data journalism as a Koeppel Fellow at Wesleyan University and American University.

“We are thrilled to offer this advanced course with Andrew Tran, which will help journalists take their data journalism skills to the next level with hands-on, hands-on learning material,” said Mallary Tenore, Associate Director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. “The course, which will focus on some of the most recent developments in R, will be relevant for data journalists who are already familiar with R, as well as for those who wish to deepen their knowledge of this programming language.”

Anyone is welcome to enroll in the course, but it’s designed for people with some exposure to R. If you’re new to the programming language, Tran has prepared materials to get you started before you start. classes. This material is accessible once you have registered.

For the course, students will need the free R statistical programming language, RStudio Desktop, and various R packages. Tran recommends that students have a data set from a previous package or a potential project to use in discussion forums.

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

The course is asynchronous, which means you can complete the activities on the days and times that best suit your schedule. However, there are recommended deadlines so as not to fall behind.

So start your journey with R or develop your skills with this powerful programming language, and sign up for our latest BOC today!

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