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Piloting a data visualisation MOOC with an Asian twist

Title-slideLearners in Asia and around the world have completed an online course teaching them to critique, design and produce attractive data visualisations and infographics.

Massive open online course (MOOC), ‘Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization’, represents the first collaboration between the JMSC and the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas.


Professor Alberto Cairo

Taught by Professor Alberto Cairo and designed primarily for the public and journalists in Asia, the aim of this pilot MOOC was to set a path for future online courses mainly focused on Asian learners.

Previous editions of the course are amongst the most popular MOOCs offered by the Knight Center and around 3,500 people registered for this special Asian version, which was presented over four weeks from 16 November to 13 December 2015.

Of those that registered, more than 800 came from Asian countries, by far exceeding the number of Asian participants in previous MOOCs organised by the Knight Center.

As well as providing an introduction to the basics of visual representation of data, the course also taught participants how to design and produce data visualisations, and how to arrange them into cohesive storytelling pieces.

Asian case studies of data visualisation and infographics from media and regional organisations were incorporated into the weekly discussion forums. Subtitles were also provided for all videos to make them more accessible to non-native English speakers, along with Chinese versions of required readings from Alberto Cairo’s book, ‘The Functional Art’.

China’s internet restrictions posed a challenge so resources were hosted on local servers to make them accessible to students in mainland China. One of the largest MOOC aggregation platforms in China,, also hosted the course.

Additional interest was fostered by building connections with journalism schools within China, one of which offered credits to its students for completing the course.

Lessons learnt from this pilot in terms of content hosting and outreach to local participants will be invaluable in rolling out future online courses to learners in China and across Asia.

For further details on MOOCs from the JMSC, please click here.

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