Knight Center launches its first massive online course, an Introduction to Infographics, Data Visualization - Journalism Courses by Knight Center
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October 5, 2012

Knight Center launches its first massive online course, an Introduction to Infographics, Data Visualization

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

UPDATE: The Knight Center’s first massive open online course reached our system limit, so registrations have been suspended. We are preparing a second edition of the same course that will start on January 12, 2013 and registration will open soon.


The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas is launching its first “massive open online course” or MOOC, a new kind of e-learning program designed for a large number of students – it is free and accessible to anyone from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. The first Knight Center MOOC will be Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization, taught in English by Alberto Cairo, an internationally renowned expert who teaches at the University of Miami.

The six week long online course will formally begin on Sunday, Oct. 28 and end Saturday, Dec. 8. Registration is now open on the Knight Center’s newly created MOOC offerings site. Although the course was initially conceived with journalists and designers in mind, others are welcome as well and can benefit from the very practical skills that will be taught.

The ability to communicate effectively through data visualization has become one of the most in-demand skills around the world, not only in news organizations but also in a variety of other fields. Anyone interested in data visualization and infographics will find this course beneficial.

In the short video below, Alberto Cairo explains the dynamics of the course and why it can have an impact on the future of whoever participates in this special program.

Similar to other Knight Center online courses, this MOOC is divided into weekly modules. But unlike regular offerings, there will be no application or selection process. Anyone can sign up online and, once registered, participants will receive instructions on how to enroll in the course. Enrollees will have immediate access to the syllabus and introductory information.

The course will include video lectures, tutorials, readings, exercises and quizzes. Forums will be available for discussion topics related to each module. Because of the “massive” aspect of the course, participants will be encouraged to provide feedback on classmates’ exercises while the instructor will provide general responses based on chosen exercises from a student or group of students.

Cairo will focus on how to work with graphics to communicate and analyze data. Previous experience in information graphics and visualization is not needed to take this course. With the readings, video lectures and tutorials available, participants will acquire enough skills to start producing compelling, simple infographics almost immediately. Participants can expect to spend 4-6 hours per week on the course.

Although the course will be free, if participants need to receive a certificate, there will be a $20 administrative fee, paid online via credit card, for those who meet the certificate requirements. The certificate will be issued only to students who actively participated in the course and who complied with most of the course requirements, such as quizzes and exercises. The certificates will be sent via email as a PDF document. No formal course credit of any kind is associated with the certificate.

“We are enthusiastic about our first MOOC! The Knight Center became a pioneer in online training for journalists when we launched our first course in 2003, so it is great to be a pioneer again with this MOOC for journalists and non-journalists. We are grateful to Alberto Cairo for joining us in this pioneering initiative,” said professor Rosental Alves, founder and director of the Knight Center. “We have already trained almost 7,000 journalists with our online program. We will continue our regular courses and webinars, with intense interaction between instructors and students.”

“I cannot promise that you will become a master infographics designer or data visualizer by the end of these six weeks. To achieve that, you would need to come to Miami and join either our MA in Journalism or our MFA in Interactive Media,” Cairo said. “However, I will make sure that you will get enough skills and conceptual knowledge to get you started in the exciting field of presenting data and phenomena through charts, maps, and diagrams.”

Cairo (@albertocairo) is an internationally recognized leader in the field of infographics and data visualization, with vast experience in both the news industry and at universities in Europe, Latin America and United States. Recently, Cairo joined the University of Miami School of Communication to teach multimedia journalism at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Prior to this position, he was the director of infographics for Época magazine in São Paulo, Brazil. Cairo was a professor in the Master em Jornalismo program in Brazil and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Spain.

He was also the James H. Shumaker term assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has taught at the Universidad Carlos III in Madrid, Spain. Between 2000 and 2005 he was the director of interactive infographics at El Mundo, where his design team won the most awards from the Society of Newspaper Design (SND) and Malofiej contests during his tenure. He regularly blogs for Periodismo con Futuro in the website of the Spanish newspaper El País, and is the author of two books on infographics: Infografía 2.0: Visualización interactiva de información en prensa (Alamut, Spain, 2008) and The Functional Art: an Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization (PeachPit Press, August, 2012). Read more about his work at his website,

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 a generous donation from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which has been supporting it continually. The Center also receives major contributions from 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 to improve the quality of journalism in their countries.