Digital Journalism Bootcamp


A practical, hands-on course for journalists, activists and NGOs to gain advanced skills in Mac OS X, UNIX, HTML and CSS, JavaScript programming, and using spreadsheets for data handling and statistics.

Ready, set... go! Are you in shape for the networked digital world? Are you ready to engage with the latest technologies and issues? Digital Bootcam covers the basics of contemporary computing, from ‘what's inside the box’ through to the basics of coding and big data.

Since its inception four years ago, the course has become the starting point for many careers at major newspapers, consultancies, NGOs, software startups and governments around the world. Strongly recommended for students embarking on Goldsmiths' MA/MSc Digital Journalism, this course is now available to the general public. If you aren’t able to commit to the full course, we offer one-day (labs 3 and 4) and two-day (labs 5-6 and 7-8) standalone courses.

Your tutor, Andy Freeman has 30 years of experience working with corporates, startups and non-profits and arts organisations alike from Apple Computer to Islington Council and now teaches award-winning students on Goldsmiths' Digital Journalism, Digital Sociology, Creative Computing and Computer Science degree programmes.

When: 10am-5pm Mondays-Thursdays (8 days)
Dates: 9 - 19 September 2019

Course content and schedule

Lab 1: Lab primer and computing basics

10am-5pm Monday 9 September 2019

An introduction to our working environment and the basics of computing, hardware and software. This day forms the base for a good understanding of later technical material and gets you started in the computing department labs environment.

Participants will learn how to:

  • use the resources offered by the computing department labs in a safe and efficient way in order to complete their study and coursework requirements
  • use the university's virtual learning environment and computing department intranet servers in order to get information on their courses and submit their coursework for assessment
  • gain basic knowledge of computing history and internal computer organisation in order to identify the differences between hardware and software, manage resource requirements and fix common issues involved in contemporary networked computing.
  • identify the common hardware and software components of a modern computer and computer networks in order to manage those resources and work effectively at all times
  • use common computing units of measurement (Bits, MB, GB etc) in order to calculate sizes of informational units and thus transmit and store them in an efficient manner
  • set up their working environment for correct ergonomics in order to minimise physical harm and maximise efficiency
  • perform backups of their work in order to protect their digital work from loss or corruption
  • use the university's computing support resources in order to overcome computing-related issues.

Lab 2: Desktop Skills (Mac OS X, Browser, Apps) 

10am-5pm Tuesday 10 September 2019

This day builds on day one and gives a detailed introduces the Macintosh operating system used in Goldsmiths Computing labs. The session then moves onto developing skills with common desktop apps including a variety of web browsers, spreadsheets, code editors and media editing tools. Although focussed on computing lab machines, those with laptops can bring them in and the tutor will give you guidance of setting them up for completing coursework. 

Participants will learn how to:

  • use the software suite supplied by the computing department in order to research and complete coursework requirements
  • use advanced MacOS X and web browser skills in order to work quickly and efficiently on computing lab machines
  • use advanced web and desktop searching techniques in order to quickly find material relevant to their research or coursework
  • use the core functions of the Microsoft Office suite in order to manage data and complete coursework for submission
  • use advanced features of the Chrome web browser to profile and identify issues with web sites in order to design and build efficient and correctly coded web sites
  • use a code editor to write text or computer code in order to work on websites and software production
  • use an FTP tool in order to transfer files between machines
  • secure their computer and online resources in order to prevent loss or theft.

Lab 3: UNIX Fundamentals

10am-5pm Wednesday 11 September 2019

UNIX is a key technology of contemporary networked computing and is the world’s most popular operating system. Understanding how to use it and develop practical skills with it is the key to participation in the wider world of digital humanities, open source and creative and social computing.

Participants will learn how to:

  • use the Macintosh terminal program in order to enter UNIX commands
  • use the terminal program to perform basic file commands in order to manage files and directories
  • use the terminal program to connect to remote websites in order to use their resources or move files to them
  • use the terminal program to create code files and run a webs server in order to develop web resources for publication or perform research related analysis
  • use the terminal program to interact with the MacOS finder in order to work quickly and efficiently on web and coding projects
  • use Git version control soft are in order manage and protect code resources and digital assets.

Lab 4: HTML and CSS

10am-5pm Thursday 12 September 2019

HTML and CSS are the basic digital languages of the current online and device-based computing era. By understanding the basics of HTML and CSS, students will be able to work at a higher level with a huge range of contemporary online resources such as WordPress, web site publishing, social media and digital mapping. This day serves as a basic introduction to this important markup and layout technology.

Participants will learn how to:

  • use a professional code editor to write correct HTML in order to build websites
  • use the Chrome browser inspector in order to identify issues with HTML or CSS
  • use a range of HTML tags in order to produce a basic web page with images, text and hyperlinks
  • use CSS in order to style and layout a page
  • use an FTP tool in order to put their work on a website
  • use Uniform Resources Locators (URLs) to provide links to pages.

Lab 5: Introduction to Programming with JavaScript I

10am-5pm Monday 16 September 2019

JavaScript has become the world’s most popular programming language and is available on almost every device that can run a web browser. From a relative novelty offering simple enhancements to web page it has grown to take centre stage not only as a technology for web pages but also for web apps and general command line programs. This course assumes that you have already have some basic knowledge of HTML/CSS and have already made your own web page (you will be asked to supply a URL) or have completed Lab 4.

Participants will learn how to:

  • use the Chrome developer tools in order to write JavaScript interactively, test commands and interact with existing web pages
  • use the HTML script tag in order to include JavaScript in their web pages
  • use the console.log statement in order to debug their programs
  • use variables in order to hold data or various types
  • use control structures and loops in order to manage the flow of execution in their program
  • use functions in order to encapsulate and reuse their code
  • use JavaScript Objects in order to build compound data structures.

Lab 6: Introduction to Programming with JavaScript II

10am-5pm Tuesday 17 September 2019

This day moves on from yesterday's introduction to talk more about how JavaScript objects are used through contemporary networked computing and using the Document Object Model (DOM) commands to interact with web pages and respond to user generated events. We also introduce the popular utility library jQuery that makes writing effective JavaScript easier for the beginning programmer.

Participants will learn how to:

  • use external files in order to organise your code and include third party libraries like jQuery or UIKit
  • use JavaScript objects in order to produce and consume common online data structures
  • use jQuery in order to simplify common programming tasks
  • use jQuery to animate HTML elements
  • use jQuery to retrieve and use web resources and include them in your web pages
  • use online resources in order to develop coding skills and overcome common programming errors.

Lab 7: Handling data with spreadsheets

10am-5pm Wednesday 18 September 2019

Spreadsheets are the basic tool of data analysis and investigation for a range of professions from social marketing through to data science. Good data handling skills are essential for the public researcher or marketer and in this course we cover the three central skills, sorting, filtering and pivots that are required to analyse data sets. Although our emphasis is on using Excel we will also look at using Google Sheets to perform the same level of analysis.

Participants will learn how to:

  • use shortcuts in order to navigate large data sets effectively
  • use correct formatting  in order to represent numbers, money and percentages
  • use formulas in order to calculate new columns
  • use formulas to calculate percentage change, rates and per capita values
  • use sorting in order to find outliers in data sets
  • use filtering in order to produce subsets of data for further analysis
  • use pivot tables to summarise and analyse data sets
  • use export and import functions to produce or consume other common file types.

Lab 8: Statistics with spreadsheets

10am-5pm Thursday 19 September 2019

Data ‘evidence’ is the fundamental principle of many contemporary decision making processes in various levels of business or government. Whatever your opinions on this trend, a lack of data skills can hamper your engagement with the issues. Building on Lab 7, we look at the central principles of modern descriptive statistics such as measures of centrality and distribution. We also take a brief look at the world of inferential statistics and probability. Throughout the day we will use current data sets involving crime, health and the census.

Participants will learn how to:

  • use a spreadsheet to produce and check summary statistics from large data sets
  • use a measures of centrality in order to describe large datasets
  • use a spreadsheet to calculate measures of spread
  • use charts in a spreadsheet to do visual analysis of data sets
  • use a spreadsheet to perform basic trend analysis
  • identify tools to manage very large datasets used in Big Data.

Register for Digital Bootcamp