Learning to teach online; NUJ freelance training going ahead on 1 and 15 May

Three weeks ago today, with two weeks of my data journalism module left to teach, Birkbeck announced that Covid-19 meant it was shifting immediately from face-to-face to online teaching. The good news was that it had software in place to facilitate this. The bad news was that I had no experience of using it and a guest lecturer booked for the following Tuesday.

It worked out fine, mainly because the Guardian’s data projects editor Caelainn Barr did such a brilliant job of explaining her work to her laptop rather than a group of students. Along with a further online class last week, some great Birkbeck training sessions and advice from David Thomas, I have had a crash course in teaching online.

As a result, my NUJ training courses First steps in freelancing on Friday 1 May and Winning and negotiating freelance business on Friday 15 May will take place online. They will include the same material, discussion and experience-sharing as usual, but rather than you coming to London, these courses can come to you via the increasingly-ubiquitous Zoom platform. The NUJ has reduced its usual prices, so the cost for First Steps in freelancing is £40 for full members and £30 for students.

If one or both of these courses sound useful, why not join me in acquiring some new skills?

Full details and booking for NUJ First steps in freelancing, 1 May

Full details and booking for NUJ Winning and negotiating freelance business, 15 May

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Why don’t you ditch your smartphone and do some NUJ freelance training instead?

Times theatre critic Ann Treneman recently wrote about an Edinburgh Fringe show that encouraged the audience to use a smartphone while watching, and being told by an usher that “99.99999%” of people have one.

Actually, Ofcom research says the actual figure for smartphone usage in 2018 was 78% of Britons aged 15 and over, up just two percentage points on 2017 (see page 12 of narrative Online nation report). So there are 12 million adults in the UK who don’t use smartphones, including for several years me. Continue reading “Why don’t you ditch your smartphone and do some NUJ freelance training instead?”

Data in journalism training at the NUJ on 17 May

I am again running an introductory day on using data in journalism at the National Union of Journalists in London on Friday 17 May. The course, which assumes little or no knowledge of the subject, covers risk, quality of data, assessing sources including surveys, government and open data, Freedom of Information and graphing.

The course, organised by the NUJ’s London Freelance Branch, costs £55 for NUJ members, £45 for student and temporary members and £110 otherwise.

More information and booking here.

Wikipedia gets it wrong even as a source of sources

I am currently teaching a term-long data journalism course at Birkbeck, University of London for MA students. Aside from seeing their overall projects develop, it is fun to see how students respond to challenges, such as to find data visualisations. (They came up with fine examples on gender pay gaps, China’s Uighur prison camps and trade discrepancies.)

One particularly interesting set of responses came when I asked students to find something wrong on Wikipedia (without editing in their own errors). Several found basic factual mistakes in pages on their home towns and other things they know well. Having said that, in data journalism courses I always advise using Wikipedia as a source of sources, to follow links and footnotes to good primary material. Continue reading “Wikipedia gets it wrong even as a source of sources”

NUJ freelance training in 2019

The National Union of Journalists has announced 2019 dates for my day courses for freelancers, all running at NUJ headquarters at Headland House, Acton Street, 10 minutes’ walk from King’s Cross and St Pancras stations.

I am down to run First steps in freelancing, designed for new and recent converts to the freelance life, on Friday 22 March and Friday 11 October. It costs £60 for most NUJ members, £50 for student members and £110 for everyone else.

Winning and negotiating freelance work will run on Friday 5 April and Friday 25 October. It costs £70 for most NUJ members, £60 for student members and £130 if you are not a member. Continue reading “NUJ freelance training in 2019”