FREE outreach training class for scientists is back!

FREE outreach training class for scientists is back!

just like Batman, the #SciFund outreach class is back and better than ever. Unlike Batman, our class does not require masks.

UPDATE: Registration for our outreach training class is now closed. If you missed the deadline, there is no need to fret. We have many more outreach-oriented training classes for scientists planned for the near future. Sign up  for our mailing list to be the first to know about them!

The SciFund Challenge outreach training class is back, by popular demand!

Scientists, do you want to tell the public about your science? At a time of slashing cuts to science funding, maybe you want to explain to the public why your field deserves public support. Maybe you want to set the record straight about misconceptions the public holds about your field. Or maybe you just want to finally be able to explain to your friends and family what it is you actually do at work.

But how do you, dear scientist, get started with your outreach? After all, most researchers don’t have any experience or training in connecting the public with their science. That’s where SciFund Challenge comes in.

Join the SciFund Challenge community for our online course aimed at helping scientists get started with outreach. Over 5 weeks, we’ll demystify the business of communicating science and equip you with the tools and confidence you need to get started.

Outreach 101 for Scientists: Getting started with engaging the public with your science

Cost: FREE. However, we aren’t just giving this course away. Course participants must pledge to share what they have learned with their colleagues.

When: October 18-November 21, 2015 (five weeks)

Where: The Internet! This course will be highly interactive and will take place largely through short videos, Google Hangouts, blog posts, and Twitter.

Who: Active scientists in any country in any discipline at any level (from graduate student to emeritus professor to government scientist to NGO scientist). This course is intended for scientists who are new to outreach, but are interested in getting started with it.

What course participants will gain from the course:

  • Confidence to get started with outreach.
  • Understanding of how to communicate their science in a manner that is compelling to the general public.
  • Overview comprehension of the many ways that scientists can engage the public.
  • The syllabus for last year’s outreach course is here and this year’s class will be similar.

Time that course participants should expect to spend on course: 3-4 hours per week.

How the class works. This class does not work like a standard online class! The class instructions will be provided on a weekly basis, right here on this site, with instructions for each week going out the Friday before the week begins. Each week of the class has a three part structure, with an overall focus on interaction among course participants. All three parts are essential components of the class.

  1. Part one of each week, which should be done early in the week, will involve you preparing something on your own. This part can be done according to your own schedule.
  2. In part two, which should be done roughly mid-week, you will be engaging with other participants with the materials you have prepared in part one. The nature of this engagement will vary from week to week, but will include such activities as providing feedback via blog comments and via video chat. The class will provide a mechanism for participants to list their availability and to contact others with similar availability.
  3. The last part of each week is a virtual 1-hour TA session, run though Google Hangouts (a video chat program), where participants will engage in a discussion about the week’s activities, moderated by a course instructor. Participants are expected to take part in one of these sessions each week, with the class offering multiple session times each week. Sessions will be scheduled every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of each course week, in the morning and in the afternoon (Eastern Time).

Expected number of course participants: Roughly 100.

Deadline for completing course application: October 16, 2015. Last year, this course maxed out within a week of the course announcement, so don’t wait to apply if you are interested. Decisions on applications will be given within three days of submission.

Requirements for course participants. Course participants must:

  1. be fluent in written and spoken English
  2. have access to a computer with a webcam or other video/audio recording device
  3. have broadband access to the Internet (minimum connection speed: 1 mbps upload, 4 mbps download)
  4. want to have fun

Course instructors:

Our class is based upon students engaging with each other in many ways during the course (via Google Hangouts, Twitter, and other means). As a result, the identity of every class participant will be known by all other participants. You won’t be able to take this class anonymously or with a pseudonym.

SciFund Challenge has done lots of science crowdfunding in the past. Is this course connected to crowdfunding?
Not directly. The purpose of this course is to get scientists started with outreach. However, our analysis of the almost 200 SciFund Challenge crowdfunding projects shows that audience size is a key determinant of crowdfunding success (read our paper here). Conducting outreach in a sustained way is the number one way for scientists to build an audience over time. So, this outreach course could be considered the first step for scientists who are considering crowdfunding for their research in the future.

Other questions? Contact Jai Ranganathan ( or Anthony Salvagno (

2 comments on “FREE outreach training class for scientists is back!Add yours →

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    1. You are right that a Twitter account is required to sign up for this class. The reason for this is that, among other things, this class will be providing an introduction to Twitter, an invaluable tool for science communication. The reason that Twitter is so valuable is that it can be used as a tool to help understand the particular audience that a science communicator is attempting to engage with.