In this course, you’ll be introduced to programming and data concepts relevant to communicators. Data visualization and storytelling tools and techniques are covered as related to journalism, advertising, public relations and the technology industry.


  • Explain the role of technology in communication
  • Explain the basics of computer programming and how it relates to the field of mass communication
  • Demonstrate the use of spreadsheets and data analysis tools
  • Construct data visualizations
  • Construct websites that demonstrate interactive and data-driven features
  • Develop applications that demonstrate the role of data and programming in storytelling

Teaching methods

This class uses a variety of teaching methods to accommodate various learning styles. Lecture is but one method in which students will be introduced to course concepts. Students are expected to participate in discussions, providing topics that are of interest to them. The instructor will cover skills session in class as a group, and students will practice skills both in and out of class in order to complete projects. Assistance is available at designated times. The new MILab is also available as an open lab for project work when it is not being used for a class. The course Web site provides a variety of resources for reinforcement of learning, including downloadable handouts and video tutorials. Students will also participate in online discussions and a blogging activity that will further provide an opportunity to communicate and contribute.


You must use an active Texas State email account. Communication via TRACS uses your Texas State email, and the university is required to send grade information out only through the Texas State email system. Contact the instructor, if you have questions. Make sure you check your email on a regular basis, as schedule changes will be communicated there as well as on our course site.


We will be using resources from a variety of textbooks, but no purchases are required. We will reference this online source throughout the semester:

Data Journalism Handbook

We’ll also be using lessons from my site CodeActually, also free!

These books are optional and might be a good resource for the future:

Course Requirements and Grading

  • Posts, Exercises and Assignments 20%
  • Website and Data Projects (3) 30%
  • Final Project 25%
  • Quizzes (3) 15%
  • Attendance/Participation 10%

Attendance and Late Assignments

Assignments for this course are challenging and fun, but the class moves very quickly, so you will not want to fall behind. Missed assignments will receive a grade of F. A student may turn in one (1) assignment late during the semester, if there is an excused reason with PRIOR arrangement with professor. Any other late assignments will receive a grade of F.

Attendance is required in this course. You may have no more than two absences without penalty throughout the semester. After that, you will be encouraged to drop the course as it will be extremely difficult to keep up with the coursework. There are no excused absences; sickness and work-related absences must be covered within this policy. Because we cover so much ground in this class, it is no coincidence that the best projects have been turned in by the students with the best attendance. Students (and teachers, too) often learn best from one another, so an open environment is encouraged. Ask questions and help each other.

If you miss a class, you must catch up on your own BEFORE coming to the next class session. There will be regular emails explaining the schedule and numerous handouts and tutorials on the course site. Ask a fellow student to help you to get caught up. Instructor will answer specific questions about projects, but will not answer or respond to comments such as “What did I miss?” “Did I miss anything” or “I’m lost.” Do your best to use the resources to catch up on your own and ask specific questions to the instructor.

We will start class at the designated time. It is important that you show up on time, as announcements tend to be made early, and you could miss valuable information. If you arrive later than 5 minutes past start time, you will be marked as late. This can affect your participation grade, as well as your ultimate course grade.

Supplies and Equipment

You will need a USB storage device (Flash drive) to save a backup of your files.  You should already have your hosting (Bluehost  or Reclaim Hosting) account and continue it from the Web Design course. We will discuss.

Use of School-Owned Camera Equipment

This class may utilize the School of Journalism and Mass Communication Equipment Checkout Room. Use of equipment is a privilege earned through your respect of and cooperation with the checkout rules. These rules are put in place to ensure all students have a chance to use the equipment. If you are late returning a camera to the Equipment Checkout Room, you lose all checkout privileges. In addition, a return that is two days late may result in up to a letter deduction on your grade. If equipment is kept five days past the due date, it is considered stolen, and UPD will be notified. Equipment borrowed from the instructor will adhere to the same policies.

Student Conduct 

In this class, you should feel comfortable to participate and express opinions and ideas. Please respect the opinions of others and be considerate of their need to contribute and learn. Turn off cell phones before entering class, and do not take calls during class. Do not use your phone for text messaging during class. Web browsing, checking email, messaging, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Pokemon Go or other non-related activities during class are not acceptable. Please do not have private conversations with your neighbors during class time, whether the instructor or other students are talking. You may do these things at breaks or during work time, but please use your time wisely.

Any student who does not adhere to these conduct policies will be asked to leave the classroom. In general, please be respectful of others desire to learn and help to create a fun and beneficial classroom environment.

Student work will be displayed on the Web, which means that it will be available to anyone with Internet access and a browser. Please see the instructor if you have any concerns about posting your projects to the Web.

Texas State provides the following guidelines for Student Conduct:

Our Mission

Texas State University is a doctoral-granting, student-centered institution dedicated to excellence and innovation in teaching, research, including creative expression, and service. The university strives to create new knowledge, to embrace a diversity of people and ideas, to foster cultural and economic development, and to prepare its graduates to participate fully and freely as citizens of Texas, the nation, and the world.

Our Shared Values

In pursuing our mission, we, the faculty, staff, and students of Texas State University, are guided by a shared collection of values:

  • Teaching and learning based on research, student involvement, and the free exchange of ideas in a supportive environment;
  • Research and creative activities that encompass the full range of academic disciplines—research with relevance, from the sciences to the arts, from the theoretical to the applied;
  • The cultivation of character, integrity, honesty, civility, compassion, fairness, respect, and ethical behavior in all members of our university community;
  • A diversity of people and ideas, a spirit of inclusiveness, a global perspective, and a sense of community as essential conditions for campus life;
  • A commitment to service and leadership for the public good;
  • Responsible stewardship of our resources and environment; and
  • Continued reflection and evaluation to ensure that our strengths as a community always benefit those we serve.

Dropping a Course

Please take note of Texas State’s drop policy. You can withdraw this or any course by Oct. 30 (Fall 2017) and receive an automatic W. After that date you cannot drop a single course. You must withdraw from all courses. This drop date is much earlier than in the past. See the Dropping/Withdrawing Policy.

Academic Honesty

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication commits itself to the preparation of mass media professionals and scholars. Such a mission demands the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity. Violations of academic honesty, including but not limited to plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, collusion, deception, conflict of interest and theft, are not tolerated and can lead to severe penalties. Disciplinary actions for violations of the standards for academic honesty are outlined in the Texas State Academic Honesty Statement and the Texas State Honor Code, printed each year in the Student Handbook.

Note to Students with Disabilities

Texas State University seeks to provide reasonable accommodations for all qualified individuals with disabilities. This university will adhere to all applicable federal, state, and local laws. Students with disabilities who need special accommodations should contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at (512) 245-3451, and register with that office. ODS is located in Suite 5-5.1 at the LBJ Student Center. If you are a student with a disability certified by ODS and you require accommodations in this class, it is your responsibility to notify the professor no later than the fifth class day of this semester so that accommodations can be discussed and promptly provided.

Instructor may notify you of changes or updates to policies in this syllabus throughout the semester.