July 28, 2012

How to create interactive maps: a new online course in Spanish

This post is also available in: English Spanish Portuguese (Brazil)

The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas will be offering a four-week online course on “The Production of Interactive Maps,” an introductory training for journalists interested in learning digital tools for data analysis and visualization. The instructor, Carlos Martínez de la Serna, was until recently an editor for the newspaper El Mundo, in Madrid, and will be teaching in Spanish from August 27, 2012 through September 23, 2012.

Journalists can apply to this course until August 16, by 5 p.m. (Austin, Texas time). More details about the course can be found here. Apply here.

Priority will be given to applicants who are from Latin America and the Caribbean. The journalists accepted into the online course will pay a $60 administrative fee and a certificate of participation will be issued to those who comply with the course’s requirements.

The course focuses on basic skills needed to build interactive maps and visualize geospatial data, how to critically analyze maps used in journalism, how to analyze geospatial data for reporting, and how to develop a geospatial data journalism project.

This course is intended for journalists and editors with no experience in map making and interested in learning the basic concepts and skills to build interactive maps and get involved in data journalism. The course is also open to designers and graphics editors willing to learn new skills.

According to Martínez de la Serna, “Data analysis and visualization is an emerging discipline to deliver complex stories through engaging, dynamic reporting. Maps play a relevant role as an intuitive interface for data visualization, as a starting point to develop data journalism within the newsroom, and as an opportunity to develop a new breed of effective location-based services rooted in public service journalism.”

Those enrolled will learn how to analyze geospatial data and build dynamic, interactive maps using the open source, full geospatial app CartoDB. They will also learn how to use Quantum GIS, an open source geographic information system, and Carto CSS, a CSS-like language for styling maps.

For this course, basic skills like knowledge of online tools and applications like Google Docs is required. It is also recommended to know how to use a spreadsheet program like Excel or Numbers.

Martínez de la Serna is a journalist specializing in online news, scientific divulgation and global health. He works at Vizzuality, an award-winning company focused on data analysis and visualization. He has been editor-in-chief at elmundo.es, the online edition of Spanish newspaper El Mundo. He has worked in Madrid, New York and Tokyo, and traveled extensively through East Africa and East Asia for global health reporting. Passionate about open journalism and data visualization, he has been a lecturer on online news and digital tools for journalism at several universities and academic centres.

This online course is divided into weekly modules containing multimedia presentations and links to online resources. Most of the course activities can be followed in the days and times most appropriate for each student, and a live webinar will be held each week during the course. Exercises, online discussions and additional assignments will also be part of the curriculum. Participants can expect to spend 10-15 hours per week on the course.

The course will be taught using the Knight Center’s distance learning platform that has benefited more than 6,000 journalists from Latin American and the Caribbean, since it was created in the fall of 2003.

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 to generous donation from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Center also receives contributions from other donors, including 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 improve the quality of journalism in their countries.