Sign up for the online course "Crafting Data Stories" and get your backstage pass to the data journalism process - Journalism Courses by Knight Center
Heather Krause

August 22, 2017

Sign up for the online course “Crafting Data Stories” and get your backstage pass to the data journalism process

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

Data is powerful.

Journalists can use it to help readers understand complex issues, to hold power to account, to expose trends and emerging situations and show the diversity of views and opinions in their communities.

That’s the message from Heather Krause, instructor of the Knight Center’s upcoming course “Crafting Data Stories: A Hands-on, Step-by-step Workshop Building Real Data Narratives,” which runs from Sept. 18 to Oct. 29, 2017. Krause, founder and principal data scientist of Datassist, will lead a six-week Big Online Course (BOC) teaching students how to build a data story from scratch using analysis and narrative techniques.

Space is limited, so register now to reserve what Krause says is a “backstage pass” to the data journalism process.

“Telling reliable and compelling data stories has never been more important. However, it’s really easy to make mistakes if you’re not working with solid statistical thinking,” Krause explained. “In this course, we’ll learn about how to maximize the impact of your data while avoiding the most common statistical errors – things that can seem intuitive, but really aren’t.”

Instructor Heather Krause
Instructor Heather Krause

At the end of the course, students will know how to:

  • Build a draft of a data story
  • Develop a data frame of mind
  • Find a dataset that can answer a question you care about
  • Understand your dataset
  • Conduct a beginning analysis of the dataset
  • Experiment with the best way to communicate your findings
  • Decide on a final narrative type to tell with the dataset
  • Craft at least one data story concept

This is Krause’s second course with the Knight Center. In January and February 2017, she and veteran instructor Alberto Cairo led the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “Data Exploration and Storytelling: Finding Stories in Data with Exploratory Analysis and Visualization.” A record 6,500 students signed up for the class.

“This course is different than what we’ve offered before in that it’s more hands-on,” Krause said of ‘Crafting Data Stories.’ “We will work together in a step-by-step process and actually put together the building blocks of a great data story.”

Unlike the MOOC, this BOC will be open to a limited number of students, offering more direct interaction with the instructor around a more advanced course topic. Additionally, there is a cost of $95 associated with the BOC, which includes a certificate of completion if requirements are met.

“The Knight Center strives to offer as many free courses as possible, but sometimes we also offer online courses at a low cost, like this one,” said Professor Rosental Alves, director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. “We have already trained thousands of journalists from around the world through our online courses. It is a privilege to have data scientist Heather Krause available again to help journalists and others interested in producing data stories.”

The course is organized in six weekly modules complemented by videos, presentations, readings and discussion forums.

Like all Knight Center courses, this BOC is asynchronous, meaning students can complete activities throughout the week at their own pace and at times more convenient for them. However, there are recommended deadlines for completing the six weekly modules so as not to fall behind.

The course is open to anyone who is curious about how to tell better data stories. However, students are expected to have basic working knowledge of and access to Excel, Tableau, or R in order to participate effectively in the course. Other software tools that work with data will also work, including Google Sheets, Open Office, Python and SPSS. Instruction will focus on how to work with data using these tools, rather than on how to use the tools themselves.

Crafting Data Stories
Crafting Data Stories


“I’m very excited to be working with a group of data storytelling students online.  I really enjoy the dynamic nature of working together with people across the globe, as well as the high levels of curiosity and insight this generates,” Krause said.

Students who successfully meet course requirements, including participation in discussion forums, will receive a certificate of completion in PDF format after verification by the Knight Center. The certificate attests to participation in the online course, but no formal course credit of any kind is associated with the document.

The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas was created in 2002 by Professor Rosental Calmon Alves, holder of the Knight Chair in Journalism at the Moody College of Communication School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. The Center has received contributions from the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation and other donors.