FAQs

General

What is StoryLab Academy?

StoryLab Academy is a partnership between Code for Africa, Google News Lab and the World Bank. Many of the lessons are drawn from existing courses developed by Google News Lab and the World Bank but customised for journalists operating across Africa with local content and techniques specific to the particular challenges they face.

Anyone can sign up for a StoryLab Academy course, but we strongly recommend that if you’re working in a newsroom you contact Code for Africa, who may be able to supplement your online training with face-to-face sessions with a local trainer. See our Newsroom Partnerships section for more.

Who is the StoryLab Academy for?

The Code for Africa StoryLab Academy has been designed to teach digital skills to working journalists. If you’re just starting out in your career, you may find the entire program useful. If you’ve already got some experience under your belt, the advanced courses will teach you new skills and the rest can help as a refresher.

It’s not just journalists who will benefit from StoryLab Academy, though. The research and communication skills will also help NGOs, activists and more.

What will I learn in StoryLab Academy?

The courses in StoryLab Academy have been designed to teach data-driven research and storytelling. In the newsroom world, this is also known as “data-driven journalism”. Modules have been put together to take you all the way from basic online research and digital data gathering, through to storytelling with data visualisations, maps, audio, video, social media and even 360-degree videos.

Will StoryLab Academy help me get a job?

We have built a free certification process into StoryLab Academy, although at present this is not equivalent to a formal diploma or endorsed by a third-party educational establishment. Many of the lessons have been designed by some of the leading online educators from Google and the World Bank, however, so you can rest assured the skills you’ll learn will be up-to-date and useful.

While we can’t guarantee a job at the end of it, you will learn how to tell your stories more effectively, and with more reliable data, in a way suited to the online world.

Do I need to understand computer programming to take a StoryLab Academy course?

Not at all! Our courses start from absolute beginner level. We hope that by the time you finish our courses, however, you’ll be keen to learn even more from our extensive list of extra resources.

Is StoryLab Academy only for online journalists?

Definitely not. We recognise that print and radio (and TV) are still the dominant media in Africa. The tools and techniques we teach are put together with digital in mind but can be used to supplement research and storytelling for any outlet.

What languages can I study in?

At present all of our modules are exclusively available in English. We will be adding translated content as time goes on.

How do I stay up-to-date with StoryLab Academy?

Follow us on Twitter for updates here!

Account set-up

Do I need to register for StoryLab Academy?

Many of the materials on the StoryLab Academy site are accessible without registering for our courses. You will need to register, however, in order to take part in assessments and save your progress.

How do I register for StoryLab Academy?

To register for StoryLab all you need is an active Google Account. Follow the REGISTER link from our homepage, and use your Google Account to access StoryLab’s courseware.

How do I create my profile?

1. You will need to create an account first
2. Click here to update your profile:https://courses.academy.africa/members/profile
3. Edit your username, profile photo or cover image

Topics

What topics are available on the StoryLab Academy?

Please head over to the All Courses tab and search through our topics using the Search Bar at the top of the page.

Do I have to take the courses in any order?

No. Each course is designed to be taken as a standalone module. However, we have structured the courses so that they flow from basic principles to advanced techniques, so if you’re not sure about a particular module you can go back and choose a proceeding one.

How do I know which topics are relevant to me?

To know if a topic is relevant for you, click on it and read the short description under each, you can also peruse the lessons to see if they are a fit for you.

Do I have to be a journalist to take these courses?

No. These courses are for anyone interested in the courses offered, profession notwithstanding.

How long does each lesson/topic take?

Each lesson has a different number of topics, and we’ll be adding extra lessons as we go on. Ideally, each topic should take no more than half an hour. We’ve designed the courses to be flexible around your working day, so you can do as many topics as you have time for in one sitting, and pick up where you left off when you come back.

Can I see/monitor my progress?

Yes. Once you register on the site, your progress is tracked under each course. Also, under the My Courses tab, your progress for each course is tracked including the quizzes you have taken and your scores and how much further you have to finish the course. Additionally, under the My Achievements tab, you can keep track of any badges or certificates earned.

Events

Is the StoryLab Academy online only?

All of the StoryLab Academy materials are available online, including the materials for the Academy MOOC and teaching aids for classroom-based sessions. Journalists can learn online at their own pace, or take part in one of four different types of face-to-face sessions: StoryLab Masterclasses, Newsroom Visits and Hacks/Hackers Africa Meetups. We will also be working with newsrooms on StorySprint projects.

What are StoryLab Masterclasses?

These are monthly topic-specific masterclasses, which take place online via Google Hangouts. They will be led by topic mentors and trainers drawn from a global pool of experts from intercontinental digital media, data journalism, civic media and civic technology networks. The StoryLab Academy Masterclass content is benchmarked on global best-of-breed on specific niche topics around the Academy’s core content and aims to develop a specific skill-set among participants.

What are newsroom visits?

A newsroom visit (brown-bag lunch) is an on-site 1.5 hr training on a specific tool (eg Public Data Explorer), held in a StoryLab Academy partner newsroom. The minimum class size is 15 people per newsroom.These brown-bag lunch visits are meant to build on specific residual skill-sets in the newsroom and are designed in a gradual learning format that does not overwhelm participants with many tools at a time. Newsroom visits may be standalone, or they may form part of a wider syllabus delivered to a newsroom by StoryLab Academy.

What are Hacks/Hackers Africa meetups?

Journalists sometimes call themselves “hacks,” a tongue-in-cheek term for someone who can churn out words in any situation. Hackers use the digital equivalent of duct tape to whip out code. Hacks/Hackers tries to bridge those two worlds by holding monthly meetups led by local pan-African Citizen Labs in Abuja | Cape Town | Casablanca | Dakar | Dar es Salaam | Durban | Freetown | Johannesburg | Kampala | Lagos | Nairobi | Yaounde. Hacks/Hackers Africa chapters are affiliated with Code for Africa, and will be organising their own sessions around StoryLab Academy courses on an ad hoc basis.

Register here to join Hacks/Hackers in a city near you, and find out when they’ll be hosting a StoryLab Academy session.

What are StorySprints?

StorySprints are two-day events, in which we will help to construct temporary data journalism desks to help newsrooms understand their full potential. Through a mix of journalists, StoryLab Alumni and members of the wider Code for Africa community, a team with skills that might include data-driven analysis and drone piloting will work on a thematically-based challenge (eg health , education, water, immigration, pandemics, etc) to produce a story using the kind of rapid iteration/rapid prototyping approach common in software development.

StorySprints are supported by a T-shaped StoryLab team, which includes a data-editor, a developer, and a designer. The StorySprints team combines deep technical and journalistic expertise with the resources of the local in-country Code for Africa citizen labs.

Are these events free?

Yes, All the workshops and courseware is free-of-charge.

Support

I am having issues with the site. Who should I contact?

If you have any questions or issues regarding our site, please send us a note using the FeedBack form.

I am having trouble accessing the course.

Sorry for your troubles, please send us a note using the FeedBack form.

Can I take courses from my tablet or smartphone?

Yep! The platform is optimised for all screens and sizes.

I can't access the video content of a lesson or course

Don’t worry, we’re aware that bandwidth is an issue for many of our students. The videos are optional and don’t need to be watched to complete a course.

I have completed all the units in a course but the 'In Progress' Bar is still showing. What do I do?

Ensure that when you complete a quiz, you click the ‘Continue’ button or it will not register that
you have completed that quiz.