Understanding education data, A/B testing in the newsroom, and ProPublica’s sister site in Thailand.

The 2013 Excellence in Journalism conference kicks off this Friday in Anaheim, California. Sessions of interest to data journalists include: best practices for pulling diversity data from census figures, journalists and coding, and storytelling with Google Maps, which provides an introduction to Google Earth and Google Fusion tables. SPJ’s Journalist’s Toolbox (@journtoolbox) will be tweeting live from several of the sessions for those who can’t attend.

The annual PDK/Gallup education poll was published on Wednesday, making this a busy week for data journalists on the education beat. Each year, the poll provides grist for education reporters looking to glean insights about the nation’s public schools. But the Educated Reporter, a blog of the Education Writers’ Association, warns data journalists to proceed with caution when using polling data in education reporting.

Knight Lab software developer Jessica Soberman is currently researching how best practices across different industries can be applied to journalism.  Soberman recently looked into how three news organizations are using A/B testing to improve their site design and increase page views.

Inspired by the success of the ProPublica investigative news site, a former investment banker and blogger in Thailand set out to create a similar data-driven news portal, and ThaiPublica was born.

And finally, a new report from researchers at the University of Nevada’s Reynolds School of Journalism suggests that journalism schools reproduce antiquated skills and methods when they rely on the same education model employed by teaching hospitals. Blueprint for Change: From the Teaching Hospital to the Entrepreneurial Model of Journalism Education (downloadable here) advises j-schools to abandon the old model in favor of teaching new media skills like programming and data visualization.

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