School of data | Inquirer Opinion

School of data

/ 12:09 AM June 01, 2014

“Everywhere in the world, journalists have been afraid of spreadsheets and of math, so that’s very universal,” said Anders Pedersen of Open Knowledge Foundation. Fortunately, The School of Data features modules that say civilians should fear no longer.

The online “school,” launched in 2012, makes one understand concepts in statistics with only a few words and multiple-screen grabs or external links (visit the “Taming the Fierce Beast” module). “Sort and Filter” provides a detailed, step-by-step how-to for modifying spreadsheets on Google Docs.


Videos are posted on some of the modules for instant views. The “School of Data Journalism” course, for example, is a series of footage from lectures on specific practices, e.g. asking government to release data. For the “Finding Data” module, a Google search tab is embedded for people to instantly apply file format-specific search functions.


Technical terms are hyperlinked to the site glossary, which also breaks down the definitions for entry-level readers. There are mini challenges planted in many units to encourage you to go beyond the data they offer and seek data sets close to you. Some modules wrap up with simple tests of not more than 10 questions, adequately testing your understanding.

If the modules are unclear, you can visit several links, posted either on the discussions themselves or on the “Further Readings” unit. For further questions, there is a comments box. One other option is group learning. The courses are not timed and each is a mere introductory.

Philippine group

Participants in the School of Data training in the World Bank office in Taguig City last month formed the School of Data Philippines, an open community of journalists and civil society groups working to develop data journalism in the country through peer learning.


A Facebook group was created as an avenue for discussions on data journalism and events, such as tutorials on data cleaning and visualization tools. In just a few weeks, it has attracted 100 members.

“We need to learn from each other, and this is something that I think is also very much ingrained in data journalism,” Pedersen said.


“That’s how data journalism developed in many countries, in the United States, Europe,” Pedersen said. He cited an example initiated by a School of Data fellow, who introduced “learning lunches” where people in the newsroom get together and go through a tutorial.

Vaughn Alviar and Ana Roa

Creating data visualization using Datawrapper:

* Prepare the data in an Excel file or any similar format.

* Clean the data by removing commas and other separators as needed or by deleting extra rows and columns.

* Go to and copy and paste the data on the box provided or upload a .csv file of the data.

* Check and describe the data.

* Add the source of the data.

* Select the type of visualization on the options provided (bar chart, line chart, map and data table).

* Refine the visualization and tell the story behind the data.

* Publish and embed the visualization on the webpage.

How to split a PDF file using ILovePDF:

* Go to
* Click Split PDF and select the file.

* Select the desired page range or choose to extract only one page.

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TAGS: Data journalism, internet, online, Talk of the Town

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