Registration is now open for the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas’ first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in Spanish, “How to Improve Electoral Coverage,” with renowned Colombian journalist and electoral coverage expert María Teresa Ronderos.
The six-week course will be free of cost and will take place from March 8 to April 19, 2013. Just like the Knight Center’s two previous MOOCs, the course will be open to anyone in the world with an Internet connection. Click here to register. If you have any question about the registration process, click here.
“It is, first of all, a course for journalist to refresh and improve their tools for covering an election,” Ronderos said. “But it is also a course for bloggers and tweeters, or people who follow their electoral processes through Facebook, or for people on electoral observation missions, or simply for citizens who are interested in knowing more about their elected officials and what’s the state and situation of democracy in their country.”
The course will teach students about a number of practical tools they can use to cover an electoral process in the most efficient and useful way for their audiences. The class will cover topics like basic democratic concepts, new watchdog methods, and the best examples of electoral journalism in the continent.
“This course aims to broaden perspectives on how elections are covered, which are generally reported through the campaigns, statements and promises of the candidates, but don’t go any further,” Ronderos said.
In the video below, Ronderos briefly explains the objectives and contents of the course.
“After the extraordinary success of the two editions of Alberto Cairo’s course on data visualization, we are very happy to offer this course with one of the best experts on electoral coverage in Latin America,” said Professor Rosental Calmon Alves, founder and director of the Knight Center. “For over a decade, María Teresa Ronderos has trained many Latin American journalists in this very important specialization. Here at the Knight Center, her courses have been very effective. But now, we have the opportunity to offer a course to many more journalists at the same time, as well as to other citizens interested in how the press can improve their coverage of an electoral process.”
María Teresa Ronderos, a Colombian journalist and political expert, is the director of VerdadAbierta.com, a website that she founded in 2008 and specializes in her country’s armed conflict. She is also an editorial consultant for Semana, the leading news magazine in Colombia, and a columnist with newspaper El Espectador. She was the general editor of Semana and, as the director of Semana.com, she developed the site Votebien.com, which covered elections in Colombia between 2002 and 2011. She is the author of the books “Retratos del Poder” (2002) and “Cinco en Humor” (2007).
Her investigative and journalistic work have earned her the national Simón Bolívar and CPB awards in 1997, 2006 and 2007; and the international King of Spain, Lorenzo Natali and Maria Moors Cabot awards in 1997, 2011 and 2007. She received one of these awards precisely because of her work writing about how media outlets had covered the scandal of drug traffickers’ contributions to political campaigns in 1994.
Ronderos has taught several courses through the Knight Center’s Distance Learning platform. Last year, Ronderos was one of the instructors in an online course on long-form journalism in the digital age and taught a webinar on managing digital newsrooms. In 2010, Ronderos gave a free six-week course on electoral coverage to Venezuelan journalists as a partnership between the Knight Center, the Carter Center and the United Nations’ Development Programme.
A MOOC is a new type of online learning program that was designed to reach a large number of students. In general, most MOOCs are college courses that have been recorded on video and adapted to be shared over the Internet.
However, the Knight Center’s MOOCs are different. Besides focusing on journalism-related topics, the courses are created specifically for this program and seek to encourage the largest amount of student-to-student and instructor-to-students interactions as possible. The Knight Center’s MOOCs are not formal college courses and cannot be used to receive any kind of university credit.
The Knight Center’s first MOOC was “Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization,” which took place last year and was taught by instructor Alberto Cairo. The course, which had over 2,000 students, was so well received that the Knight Center offered a second, identical edition of the course this year. It began on Jan. 12 with 5,000 students from 133 countries and will end on Feb. 23.
Ronderos’ course will include videos, tutorials, reading materials, exercises and quizzes. Just like the Knight Center’s other MOOCs, the course will be divided in weekly modules and will be completely asynchronous, meaning there will be no live lectures. Even though students can take the course at the times of their choosing, each weekly module will have deadlines for submitting the quizzes and participating in the forums.
As opposed to the Knight Center’s regular online courses, 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, introductory information and a video from the instructor explaining how the MOOC will work.
Although the course will be free, if participants need to receive a certificate, there will be a $30 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.
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.