What is the Academy?

The Academy is Code for Africa’s digital skills programme, in partnership with the Google News Initiative and the World Bank.

Many of the lessons are drawn from existing courses developed by Google News Initiative 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 an 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 Academy for?

The Academy has been designed to teach digital skills to storytellers, to help them tell more compelling stories with new tools and new content.

Storytellers include journalists, civic activists and government or corporate communicators.

If you’re just starting out in your career, you may find the entire curriculum useful. If you’ve already got some experience under your belt, our advanced courses will teach you new skills or tools, and the rest can help as a refresher.

What will I learn in the Academy?

The courses in the Academy have been designed to teach digital research and storytelling skills, with a special focus on data-driven techniques.

This includes courses on data journalism, investigative reporting and multimedia storytelling, along with more specialist courses on geo-journalism (which uses maps and satellite data for storytelling), and fact-checking / verification for newsrooms.

In addition to the journalism courses, there is also a cross-cutting digital security course, and courses for Open Data for Government and Open Data for Activists.

The courseware is designed to be modular, with step-by-step incremental learning plans to help you master new skills one lesson at a time.

The content is organised into courses, each focusing on a specific theme or skillset, and is then broken down into lessons with quick modules. You can take them all at once, or spread your learning over whatever period works best for you.

Will Academy training help me get a job?

Completion of Academy courses is not equivalent to a formal diploma or endorsed by a third-party educational establishment but it will help increase your skill level in data journalism and story telling.

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 an Academy course?

Not at all! The Academy is not a code school and does not focus on technologists.

Our courses do teach some basic computational storytelling skills, but start from an 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 Academy only for online storytellers?

Definitely not.

The skills taught by the Academy do require access to the digital tools but can just as easily be used for offline storytelling, to help improve research that shapes a newspaper article or government communiqué.

The Academy even includes modules suggesting ways to create data graffiti, using infographic stencils to tell visual stories on city walls.

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 Academy?

Follow us on Twitter for updates here!

Do I need to register for Academy?

Many of the materials on the 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 Academy?

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

What topics are available on the 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.

Is the Academy online only?

The Academy’s self-directed lessons and exercises are all offered free-of-charge online as a MOOC (a massive open online course).

The Academy does, however, also offer biweekly workshops at selected African universities and a growing number of African newsrooms, as well as at public meetups at African chapters of the Hacks/Hackers network and the WanaData network of women data journalists/data scientists.

If you’d like your newsrooms to partner with the Academy, head over to this page to shoot off a request.

What are Academy Masterclasses?

These are monthly topic-specific masterclass webinars, with guest trainers, which take place online via Google Hangouts.

They are 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 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 the Academy's newsroom visits?

The Academy’s newsroom workshops are usually structured as a biweekly brown-bag lunch, onsite at a partner newsroom, for 1hr or 2hr of hands-on practical training on a specific tool (e.g.: Tabula for extracting data from PDFs) or technique (e.g.: what type of chart works best of specific types of data).

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, one-off session to help teams prepare for a special project or event (such as the elections) but are preferably part of a wider syllabus delivered to a newsroom by the 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 at local chapters in cities across Africa (and the world). The African chapters are supported by Code for Africa, with chapters in 11 cities from Morocco in the north to South Africa in the south, and Senegal in the west to Kenya in the east. Join HacksHackers Africa on Facebook here, or register for an email alert whenever a chapter is meeting here.

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.

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.