Hands-on Training

NICAR17 will offer more than 100 hands-on classes throughout the conference in eight classrooms.  You’ll be able to find topics ranging from introductory tutorials in data analysis to advanced sessions on programming. Please note: Hands-on classes are first come, first served, and can reach capacity very quickly. Arriving early for sessions is highly recommended.

In addition to the open classes, a limited number of longer hands-on workshops require preregistration and an additional fee. Register for these workshops when you complete your conference registration. **Please be sure to note the date. The workshops are listed below. 

Optional hands-on classes cancellation policy
Cancellations must be sent via email to lara@ire.org. All cancellations must be in writing. There is a $15 processing fee for each class until Feb. 20. Refunds will not be given for cancellations after Feb. 20 due to the limited seating in these classes.

 

Programming for humans, in Python

Thursday, March 2, 9 am. – 5:45 p.m.

Cost: $70

Skill level: Intermediate/advanced 

You’ve written a few Python scripts that get the job done, but the initial euphoria has worn off. Your code is hard to understand. Bugs are cropping up. Worse, you can’t always explain your process or results to an editor — or yourself. There must be a better way, but the path forward is not clear. If you’ve had that itchy feeling, this full-day, hands-on workshop is for you. After mastering the basics of writing code, you need to understand how to design programs. To that end, this class will explore Python language features that will help you write readable, reliable and reusable code. 

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Attendees must bring a laptop and charger to the training.

Workshop prerequisites: Experience with basic Python language features like variables, data types, conditionals and functions are required.

 

Map Camp: QGIS

Thursday, March 2, 9:00am – 5:45pm

Cost: $60

Skill level: Intermediate

Learn how to uncover interesting news stories by mapping data with geographic information system (GIS) software during our intensive mini-boot camp.

IRE and NICAR trainers conduct this hands-on training using the latest version of QGIS, open source-software that runs on all platforms. We will look at noteworthy stories that have used mapping and show you how to uncover stories using census and other data. You’ll learn how to display data geographically; import and query data; geocode to merge databases with addresses into maps. In addition, we’ll provide you with our boot camp materials to help keep you on track long after you leave the conference.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training.

Workshop prerequisites: Participants should have basic knowledge in using relational database programs such as Microsoft Access, MySQL or SQLite.

 

PyCAR

**This class is full. Please add your name to the waiting list.**

Thursday, March 2, 9 am – 12:30 pm and continuing Friday, March 3, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

(Note: Registration for this session reserves your seat for both days of this workshop and attendees are expected to attend both sessions to complete the workshop.)

Cost: $70

Skill level: Beginner

This hands-on workshop will teach journalists basic programming concepts using the Python language. The daylong class will introduce language basics and useful libraries in the course of a typical reporting project: scraping data from the web, inserting it in a database and analyzing the results.

Although the class is geared toward beginners, we’ll assume that you’re comfortable with databases and SQL and that you’ve hopefully seen a command line since the days of DOS.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training.

Workshop prerequisites: Attendees should have familiarity with the command line and are comfortable with databases and SQL.

 

First Python Notebook: Rapid data analysis in the newsroom

**This class is full. Please add your name to the waiting list.**

Friday, March 3, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Cost: $70

Skill level: Beginner / intermediate

Ben Welsh, James Gordon and Cheryl Phillips teach you how to conduct and publish a data analysis with the Python programming language, its pandas toolkit and a Jupyter Notebook.

The 6-hour, hands-on tutorial will guide you through an investigation of money in politics using data from the California Civic Data Coalition. You will learn just enough Python to do damage with the powerful pandas data analysis library, the most popular open-source library for working with large data files. You will also learn how to record, remix and republish your analysis using the Jupyter Notebook, a browser-based tool for writing code that is emerging as the standard for sharing reproducible research in the sciences. And most importantly, you will see how tools can increase the speed and veracity of your journalism.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training.

Workshop prerequisites: If you’ve tried Python once or twice, have good attitude and know how to take a few code crashes in stride, you are qualified for this class.

 

Excel Magic

Friday, March 3, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Cost: $35

Skill level: Beginner/intermediate 

If you’ve found yourself struggling in a spreadsheet, thinking that whatever you were trying to achieve seemed harder than it should’ve been, then this is the class for you. You’ll learn how to do things with spreadsheets that you never thought possible, such as joining tables and re-arranging badly structured data. You’ll learn about the never-ending and amazing power of logical functions, as well as a whole bunch of other functions you probably didn’t know about (but should). You’ll also learn some handy tools for dealing with dates, times and strings of text that aren’t quite the way you’d like them. Plus we’ll throw in some other tricks that just make working in spreadsheets a bit easier and more efficient.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training.

Workshop prerequisites: You should have prior experience using Excel or Google Sheets, and be comfortable with introductory-level spreadsheet skills, such as sorting, filtering, SUM and AVERAGE functions, calculations such as percentage change or percent of total, and how to use Pivot Tables.

 

Digging into data for stories: A crash course

Friday, March 3, 2:15pm – 4:30pm; Saturday, March 4, 2:15pm – 5:45pm; Sunday, March 5, 9:00am – 12:30pm

(Note: Registration for this session reserves your seat for all days of this workshop and attendees are expected to attend all sessions to complete the workshop.)

Cost: $60

Skill level: Beginner

Kickstart your data skills with IRE’s original mini-boot camp. This series of hands-on classes will introduce you to spreadsheets and databases with IRE’s proven techniques. IRE’s experienced trainers will walk you through sorting, calculating and interviewing data. You’ll come away with a solid base for using data analysis in your own newsroom. In addition, we’ll provide you with our boot camp materials to help keep you on track long after you leave the conference.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training.

Workshop prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this workshop and beginners are welcome. This workshop is good for those wanting to get started analyzing data for stories

 

Build your first news app

Saturday, March 4, 9:00am – 5:45 pm

Cost: $70

Skill level: Intermediate

This mini-boot camp will walk you through the process of building a simple online news application from a dataset. You will get hands-on experience in every stage of the development process, writing Python, HTML and JavaScript using version control tools. You won’t stop until you’ve deployed a working application onto the World Wide Web.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training.

Workshop prerequisites: If you have a good attitude and know how to take a few code crashes in stride, you are qualified for this class.

 

Intro to R

**This class is full. Please add your name to the waiting list.**

Saturday, March 4, 9 am – 12:30pm

Cost: $35

Skill level: Intermediate

Add statistical heft to your reporting by using R, a free, powerful open-source programming language. By the end of this two-hour session, you will be able to take raw data, import it into R, and start your analysis. Topics will include basic data importing, working with directories, reading in data, installing packages, creating simple visualizations, and how to clean, explore and sort your data. We’ll also talk about how to find help when you’re stuck.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training.

Workshop prerequisites: This session will be most helpful if you’re comfortable working with data and you’re ready to take your skills to the next level.

 

Visualizing and understanding uncertainty (Sponsored by Society for News Design)

Saturday, March 4, 2:15 – 5:45 p.m.

Cost: $25

Statistics is the science of uncertainty. It’s an invaluable tool for journalists trying to help readers and viewers make good choices with imperfect data. But though our models come with uncertainty, we are sometimes bad at helping readers understand the uncertainty that’s built into our work. Science is not far ahead of us — look at the uncertainty cone in a hurricane, which lay readers often mistake for hurricane size. Look at how readers misinterpreted election predictions, even when they came with confidence intervals or likelihood measurements. How can we explain uncertainty better so that readers understand it? This is designed to be a hands-on collaborative workshop in which science communicators and visual journalists discuss the state of the art in visualizing uncertainty, then come up with some new directions via sketching and prototyping.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Computers will not be provided for this workshop so please bring your laptop.

 

Just enough Django: Distributed data entry in the newsroom

Sunday, March 5, 9:00am – 12:30pm

Cost: $35

Skill level: Beginner/intermediate

Ben Welsh presents a step-by-step guide to creating a simple web application that empowers you to enlist reporters in data entry and refinement. The 3-hour, hands-on tutorial will teach you how to take advantage of the Django Web framework’s powerful administration panel, without bothering with all the other web developer crap. You will learn how to design database tables, load in data and quickly create a system for others to improve it.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training.

Workshop prerequisites: If you have a good attitude and know how to take a few code crashes in stride, you are qualified for this class.