November 15, 2017

Five years of MOOCs: Journalists and students tell how online courses from the Knight Center helped in their careers

Celebrating anniversary
Celebrating anniversary


To commemorate the 5th anniversary of our MOOC program, we asked students of our courses to tell us how their participation in the program had helped them in their careers.
We are overwhelmed by all the testimonies of answers and with their consent we would like to share some of these.
We will be adding more in the coming days.

If you took a MOOC with us and want to tell your story, please send an email to knightcenter(at)



When I started the massive open online course (MOOC) “News video production for the internet” offered by the Knight Center in the middle of 2016, I could never have imagined that it would end up taking me on a journey to Germany months later.

That was my 6th year working with journalism in the small state of Espírito Santo, Brazil. Looking for new ways of doing my beloved job of informing people, I heard of a new online course in the area. Deciding to enroll was easy after seeing that the Brazilian Association of Newspapers (ANJ) and Google were involved.

With a practical approach to the theme, the course was very well-shaped for the journalists of today: storytellers willing to run away from that old conventional TV journalism. Exploring the uses of documentary aesthetics, bringing more “art” into the process of creating a news report, gave me new motivation to keep working with my passion.

At the end of the course, a contest took place. We were meant to practice what we learned doing a themed web-doc of 3 minutes. I decided to show the damages experienced by a small fishing village within my city caused by the collapsing of an ore tailings dam. It was one of the biggest environmental disasters of Brazil’s history (you can watch the result here: The video was selected and I got to travel to São Paulo’s YouTube Space for a very special workshop about web journalism.

That was already unbelievable for me. But the fruits of that course were just starting to appear…

After that, I decided to put more effort into using video production in my career. So, when I heard about a fellowship program offered by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, I sent an application based on a documentary project. The German Chancellor Fellowship program offered through the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation began in 1990. Every year, around 40 people from 5 different countries are selected to develop a professional project for 15 months in Germany with full support from the German Government. The video I produced for the MOOC was sent as part of my project as an example of what I can do.

In 2017, I became the first person from my state to receive this grant, and now I’m in Germany to record a documentary about refugee integration in Berlin! An outstanding step in the career of a 25 year-old journalist born in a poor area of Brazil.

The role of the Knight Center’s MOOCS in the careers of many journalists around the world is huge. And that means not only a positive impact on the quality of the news coverage in several spots worldwide, but new opportunities to make dreams come true.

I’m grateful for the knowledge shared with me, which I’m now sharing with others.

Vielen Dank! Muito obrigado!

Ramon Luz

Montanha, Espírito Santo, Brazil

German Chancellor Fellow at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Berlin

I’m very interested in data analysis and visualization for both professional and social use, so I’ve been following news about Alberto Cairo for some time and I knew of his MOOC Data Exploration & Storytelling, also led by Heather Krause.

I find that it has a good balance between introduction and description of the method (from collection to data processing) and the practical part and exercise with an effective arrangement and presentation of the results.

I was able to incorporate lessons learned in my publications, bringing more emphasis and visual narrative tricks, choosing the level of analysis and where to set the focus of the story.

I believe I achieved more precision and accuracy, and at the same time I improved the ability to communicate either drafting documents or talking in meetings.

Finally, I appreciated some consideration of ethics about scraping, confirmation bias, combining datasets, and reporting data to different audiences.

I’m already looking for the next course…


Agnese Interdonato – ROMA – Italy

I can’t remember the number of Knight’s MOOCs I’ve done, but I will remember forever everything I’ve have learned, since I use it in my daily work as a journalist. We live in a difficult, changing, period for our profession, but it’s also thrilling. We can be the key for the future of journalism, as that future is being written every day we go to our news desk. I have to say to the Knight Center’s teachers ‘thank you.’ Thank you for your time, for sharing your knowledge with us and for letting us learn from you. You have been very important for me in a period in which I was unemployed: you fulfilled my time, you kept me ready for the future and you encouraged me to maintain my hope in the future and the growth of my career. But remember: the future is us, and Knight Center’s MOOCs are here to help us to be ready for it!

Miguel Ángel Ossorio Vega

Madrid, Spain

Influencers magazine,, BreakingClub

I have undergone two courses with the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) program offered by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, and my experience on both occasions was great.

The first was Investigative Journalism in the Digital World, while the other was Mobile Journalism. Both courses have really helped and are still helping me in my job.

I now do more investigative and research work before filing my reports, and the mobile phone has really made my job easier.

I still look forward to taking part in more courses in the future as I continue to hone my skills in the journalism profession.

I thank the Knight Center for the opportunity and would recommend the courses to anyone.

Israel Ojoko

Lagos, Nigeria

I’ve taken more than five online courses since I learned about the Knight Center. It really helped me in my work in the newsroom, and also in my growth as a professional. With the encouragement of the Knight Center, I returned to college, and now I’m a Master’s student at Federal University of São Carlos, focusing my research on data journalism. I’m really thankful to the Knight Center for all the support and help through this time.

Vivian Guilherme

Rio Claro-SP, Brazil

Jornal Cidade de Rio Claro



I would like to say that the Knight Center has been of great help to me personally since I started using their portal as a part of my resources. With the world becoming a global village due to internet connectivity I have been able to learn a lot.

Interacting with this open resource platform for journalists has helped me advance my skills in design and data Journalism.

The most memorable course was with one of the ‘Fathers’ of Data Journalism- Alberto Cairo and Heather Krause. I was able to learn a lot during the course Data Exploration and Storytelling as I have been able to interact and learn a lot from the open resources that have been made available.

I appreciate this platform that can be accessed from anywhere in the world as long as you have internet connectivity.

I know one major challenge is paid courses. Even paying for the certificate is a huge challenge for journalists, especially in developing countries.

I look forward to learning more and using the skills learned to mentor and also share with my fellow journalists.

Winnie Kamau

Freelance Data Journalist – Talk Africa

President Association of Freelance Journalists (AFJ)

The online courses help me to think and outline various aspects of my new role as an audience editor. It also has been a great opportunity to discover new work tools and exchange experiences and ideas with colleagues from around the world.

María Noel Scanarotti

Buenos Aires, Argentina