Teacher Stories: Graham Roberts

Meet Graham Roberts, a Graphics/Multimedia Editor at The New York Times who teaches an Animated Information Graphics class. In just a few short months, Graham has enrolled close to 500 students worldwide. We’re excited to share his success story with you here!

I’m a Graphics/Multimedia Editor at The New York Times, where I have had the opportunity to work on a wide range of visual journalism projects since 2006 — from covering breaking news like the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, to culture projects like a piece that uses motion capture to understand classical conducting, to sports projects like the ‘All The Medalists’ series that explores Olympic results across time, to international coverage like a piece that explains the scale of China’s urbanization plans. My journalism training came on the job, and from being surrounded by some of the best in the business. I continue to learn from them every day.

For my first class, I wanted to convey some of the core ideas and concepts surrounding the work I do, and have it be as accessible as possible. Information graphics can get very narrowly focused on specific skill sets. I wanted to start with how to think and broadly share some of the knowledge I’ve gained from my time working in this discipline, and teach directly through projects I’ve produced. That said, future classes I have planned will help on the skills side as well, so stay tuned!

To teachers, I recommend showing as much as you can about your own work as possible. The students are likely interested in your class because of what they have seen you produce, and so will be interested in seeing a behind-the-scenes look at some of your own work and process. I also think it is worth being pro-active with your students, and giving feedback on the projects they submit. I would imagine this adds a great deal of value to the class, and you can learn a lot from your students too!

Teaching has impacted my professional endeavors mainly in the actual process of putting the class together. Forcing myself to reflect on how I work has helped to focus attention on what was sometimes an intuitive process, and add structure to how I think about my own projects. It has also been inspiring to see the wide range of projects students are applying these ideas to, and seeing how they have tackled various issues that have come up along the way.