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Data Science – Learning for the Digital Future

Data is the fuel of the digital economy and our knowledge society – and a real challenge for media creators. A responsibility that “stern” editor Alexandra Kraft is aware of, and happy to tackle.

Large volumes of data are the basis of ever more business processes. Interpreting that data correctly will become a key to success for companies in the long term and is increasingly impossible for individuals. Media professionals and journalists then play a special role as communicators of knowledge, a responsibility that “stern” editor Alexandra Kraft is well aware of. Participating in the "Udacity Data Science Scholarship Program" – part of an extensive advanced training initiative from Google, Bertelsmann, and Udacity – Kraft dealt intensively with the collection, interpretation, and visualization of data, also known as data science, already considered among tomorrow’s essential digital skills.

Out of the comfort zone

“I’m totally curious and constantly need new challenges,” says Kraft. These include traveling and learning new languages. But the personal curiosity driving the editor to constantly learn and broaden her horizons is only one of the forces that motivates her. Kraft, who has worked for “stern” for over twenty years, including four years in the U.S., is also driven professionally. “Journalism is changing enormously and I don’t want to be the dinosaur in the editorial office, ignorant of the latest developments.” When she learned of the "Udacity Data Science Scholarship Program", Kraft quickly seized the opportunity, even if it forced her out of her comfort zone. Reflecting, she says it was a bit like when she was still at university studying German literature, politics, history and Spanish and went immediately from an internship to starting an apprenticeship at “stern”. “It was an opportunity you don’t say no to. “stern” is the Champion’s League.”

The entire editorial team now benefits from Kraft’s newly acquired skills and knowledge. “My colleagues are also very interested. And now, when it comes to data evaluation, I can make more of a contribution.” As a sci­ence journalist focusing on health, finding topics and checking news and facts are Kraft’s bread and butter. “Take internet hype, for example,” she explains. “It’s easier for field veterans like us to recognize such things anyway, and now I can identify them even more easily using original data.” Because hype often originates through carelessness and when people don’t want to pass up on the headline-grabbing story. Now she is also better at evaluating and analyzing data leaks like the Panama Papers, she says. “I’m sure that I now know exactly what data I can use and how to process it.”

No fear of the future

As a knowledge communicator, it is also Kraft’s responsibility to clearly and concisely communicate data and findings to readers using software such as Excel and Tableau, which were also used as part of the program’s learning content. And how does she manage to fit this in with her work-life balance? Relatively easily, Kraft assures us credibly. “You just manage somehow, partly because you get support from mentors if you have any problems with the content.” Kraft says she found the digital learning of mainly video content with limited text especially helpful. “This is the first time I studied using an online platform. One of the most important insights was how much I can achieve through self-motivation. Obstacles are only in one’s mind.” The online platform allowed Kraft to easily integrate the learning content and study time into her daily routine. “Every minute counts. It was often just ten or twenty minutes, but sometimes several hours at a time, like when we had to deliver our projects.” The connection to a large online community and the lively exchange with other students more than made up for the lack of an offline presence. Kraft also feels that she found friends all over the world, advising anyone interested: “Don’t be afraid of the amount of time involved!”

The Data Science Scholarship Program

The "Udacity Data Science Scholarship Program" is part of an extensive continuing training initiative from Google, Bertelsmann, and Udacity with the aim of training IT experts. The program teaches skills for the digital working world. Building on the scholarship program’s success, Bertelsmann has already announced the launch of another global education initiative (see article).

Udacity is an online learning platform for people looking to begin or advance their career in the technology industry and offers Nanodegree programs with a focus on professions in software development, data science, digital marketing, and artificial intelligence.

More information about the „Udacity Data Science Scholarship Program“ and Bertelsmann’s diverse learning content and formats can be found on our website. (Corporate Responsibility magazine "Faces of Responsibility" of Bertelsmann)

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