Summer school in data journalism hosts its largest-ever class online

Summer school in data journalism hosts its largest-ever class online

Close to 20 journalists from across Canada came virtually to King’s this year for the 2020 King’s Summer School in Data Journalism.

COVID-19 meant the school couldn’t be held in person. So King’s Professor Fred Vallance-Jones took it online.

As always the intensive course covered the basics of using data in journalism, and this year had guest instructors from sponsors Esri Canada and Investintech. Most instruction was in offline modules, including videos, data and exercises, and students came together after each module for live discussions.

“When measures to protect against COVID-19 meant we couldn’t run the school in the normal way, we decided to partner with the Canadian Association of Journalists to offer an online version of the course,” Vallance-Jones said.

“It was a totally new experience to me, and it went extremely well. By the end of the week, students from one end of the country to the other were working together to develop their own data stories.”

King’s will be taking all of its instruction online this fall, and Vallance-Jones said the data school helped give him confidence that the online experience, while different from conventional teaching, can provide top quality instruction.

Participants in the school ranged from reporters with major media outlets to freelancers. They came from Nova Scotia, P.E.I, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia.

The King’s data school has been run every year since 2008, with multiple schools in some years. Its goal is to help professional journalists advance their careers by learning the skills to work with data. King’s also offers a master of journalism degree in which students can specialize in data journalism.

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