Syllabus for 2014 outreach training class

Godfather Part 2 poster
The second SciFund outreach class: just as epic as the Godfather, Part 2. There is somewhat less crime associated with our class, however.

The second SciFund Challenge outreach training class starts next week and we are excited! For those of you following along at home, here’s our syllabus.

SciFund Challenge Class: Outreach 101

Course instructors: Zen Faulkes, Jai Ranganathan, Anthony Salvagno
Course dates: September 21-October 25, 2014 (five weeks)

This short course is intended for researchers that are new to science outreach, but are interested in getting started with it. The philosophy of this class is that three factors tend to keep scientists from doing outreach: a lack of outreach knowledge, a lack of outreach experience, and a lack of a community that supports outreach. The purpose of this class is to do something about all three of these things.

In this class, we will be putting a focus on communication and community-building between class participants, emphasizing face to face communication (using tools like group video conferencing with Google Hangouts). With 161 class participants sprinkled all over the world, this is going to be an scheduling challenge, but we can do it.

At the end of this class, class participants should have:
1) an overview understanding of the many ways that scientists are connecting to the public with their science
2) an understanding of how to craft a science message compelling to general audiences
3) a little bit of experience with a wide range of outreach tools
4) the beginnings of their own outreach community
5) an outreach plan for the future

There are five weeks in our short course and a specific plan for each week. At the beginning of each week, or shortly before, you’ll receive the plan and assignments for each week. To give you a taster, here is the overall plan for the class week by week:

Week 1 (September 21-27): Getting started
We’ll start with group discussions about what are the barriers that stand between you and outreach. We’ll also get started with video production and Twitter.

Week 2 (September 28-October 4): Crafting your message
We’ll work on the tricky challenge of how to create a compelling message out of the often-hard-to-explain research that we do. The focus of the week will be a technique called the Message Box. Developed by COMPASS and roadtested by hundreds of scientists, it is a proven method for shaping science messages. We’ll be working on these tasks both individually and in groups.

Week 3 (October 5-11): Blogging
We’ll put our finely-crafted science messages to work, with our introduction to blogging. The focus here will be on messaging that is intended for non-specialist audiences and, as before, we’ll be doing this individually and in groups. If you are nervous about public blogging, not to worry. Everything we do here will be on a private blog that only class participants can see.

Week 4 (October 12-18): Public speaking
We will practice public speaking with each other, via group video conference calls. We will be using a very specific type of short public presentation, called an Ignite talk.

Week 5 (October 19-25): Your outreach future
Each of us will be coming up with an outreach plan for our future. We’ll also be practicing our elevator pitch with each other in group discussions.

There is a whole world of science outreach methods (podcasts, etc.) that we won’t have time to specifically practice in this class. However, we’ll be providing links to this greater world of outreach along the way to class participants.

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