Instructor: Alberto Cairo

June 11 to July 8, 2018

Welcome to the Knight Center's new MOOC Data Visualization for Storytelling and Discovery! In this course, you will learn about how to use graphs, maps, charts, diagrams to extract meaning from large amounts of data and how to use data visualization to tell stories to different kinds of audiences.

Registering in the platform is easy. Please follow these steps:

  • 1. Create an account in the Journalism Courses system. Even if you’ve taken a course with us before, you may need to create a new account. Check to see if your previous username and password work before creating a new account.
  • 2. Wait for a confirmation in your email indicating that your account has been created. If you do not receive this, please check your spam folder.
  • 3. Log into the platform, scroll down until you see the course listings, and click on the “Data Visualization for Storytelling and Discovery” course.
  • 4. A button will appear, click “Enroll” to enroll yourself into the course. You will be able to access the course from the “My Courses” menu at the top of the page.
  • 5. You will receive an email confirming your enrollment.

Please add the email addresses, and to your address book to ensure you receive emails about the course.

In this course you will learn how to use visualization to discover trends and patterns in data, and also how to communicate with graphs, charts, and maps, both static and interactive. Alberto Cairo will teach you elementary principles of visualization design and visual narrative, and also how to apply them with free tools like INZight and Flourish.

This course is open to anyone interested in learning how to use data visualization for storytelling purposes. Journalists, editors, technology professionals, students and faculty should enroll. Those who already have experience in data visualization are encouraged to join the course to add to the discussion and provide additional insight on the topic.

This course only requires you to have access to an Internet connection and Web browser.

First of all, notice that this is an asynchronous course. So, there are a few live activities scheduled. We will have a link to the live activities so students that can't attend in real time have access to the event after. You can log in to the course and complete activities throughout the week at your own pace, at the times and on the days that are most convenient for you.

Despite its asynchronous nature, there are still structures in place for the duration of the course. The material is organized into four weekly modules. Each module will be taught by Alberto Cairo and will cover a different topic through videos, presentations, readings and discussion forums. There will be a quiz each week to test the knowledge you've gained through the course materials. The weekly quizzes, and weekly participation in the discussion forums, are the basic requirements for earning a certificate of participation at the end of the course.

This course is very flexible, and if you are behind with the materials, you have the entire length of the course to complete them. We do recommend you complete each of the following before the end of each week so you don’t fall behind:

  • Video lectures
  • Readings and handouts/exercises
  • Participation in the discussion forums
  • Quizzes covering concepts from video lectures and/or readings


This week will offer an introduction to visualization, what it is, how it works, and what ethical considerations are involved in its design. It will also teach how to prepare data before visualizing it, which is something that students will begin doing in Module 2.
Module 1 will cover:
  • What data visualization is
  • Visualization ethics: How visualization may mislead, and how it can tell the truth
  • Data preparation: an explanation of the software videos this week
  • Will include a Data Wrangler tutorial, along with a few external tutorials that will be useful to students who need to learn more about Excel: “Cleaning Data in Excel,” “Introduction to Pivot Tables, Charts, and Dashboards in Excel (Part 1)” and “Introduction to Pivot Tables, Charts, and Dashboards (Part 2)”.


This week will cover how visualization can be used to explore and discover features that often hide behind data. Students will use software tools that will allow them to import a data set and then visualize it in multiple ways to reveal patterns and exceptions to those patterns.
Module 2 will cover:
  • INZight for data exploration
  • Schools in Miami-Dade County
  • Using histograms and seeing summary statistics
  • Scatter plots. Trends and outliers
  • Using maps


This week will explain how visualization can be used to communicate with the public. Students will be introduced to/will learn to use Flourish to design static and interactive maps and charts, and then put them together in sequential narratives.
Module 3 will cover:
  • How to choose graphic forms for your data
  • Stories with charts and maps
  • Visual design for communication
  • Software tools: an introduction to this week’s practical videos
  • Will include videos on how to use Flourish for data visualization


Students will design a visualization based on a topic and data sets of their choice.
Module 4 will cover:
  • A look at what students have learned in this course and what other resources they can consult to keep learning about visualization. Students will share results in the discussion forum.
  • A wrap-up that looks at the future of data visualization, as well as pointers for students to consider moving forward.

Alberto Cairo is the Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the University of Miami. He’s also the director of the visualization program at UM’s Center for Computational Science. Cairo has been a director of infographics and multimedia at news publications in Spain (El Mundo, 2000-2005) and Brazil (Editora Globo, 2010-2012,) and a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Besides teaching at UM, he works as a freelancer and permanent consultant for companies like Google. He’s the author of the books The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization (2012) and The Truthful Art: Data, Charts, and Maps for Communication.

A certificate of completion is available for those who meet all of the course requirements, and pay online an administrative fee of $30 (thirty U.S. dollars), using a credit card. After July 8, the Knight Center will send a message with an online form you can submit, if you are interested in the certificate. The online form will be available during the last week of the course. After the form closes, the Knight Center team will verify if you fulfilled the course requirements. This process takes at least a week after the form closes. After confirmation of course requirements, the Knight Center will send a message through the course platform with confirmation that you fulfilled the course requirements and you qualify for the certificate. In this message we will also send you instructions for how to make payment.

For those that meet all of the course requirements, a certificate of completion will be available to download, in PDF format. No formal course credit of any kind is associated with the certificate. The certificate is awarded by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas to attest to the participation in the online course.

For those that want to receive a certificate of completion for the course, you must meet the following requirements:

1) Complete weekly quizzes with a 70% score minimum by the weekly deadline.

2) Watch weekly video lectures and review weekly readings.

3) Participate in at least 1 discussion forum each week by given deadline.

If all requirements are met, an electronic certificate in PDF format will be emailed to the student.

Please add the following email addresses, and to your address book to ensure you receive emails about the course.

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