This course is intended for academics and professionals 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).
At the end of this class, class participants should have:
1) a head start in spearheading their own outreach initiatives
2) a strategy for identifying their outreach audience
3) a method for communicating a science message compelling to their audience
4) experience with a diverse set of outreach tools
5) a community of like-minded scientists to grow and support their outreach initiatives
There are five weeks in this 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. Each week has three action items: (1) do something on your own, (2) do something with a partner, and (3) a Google Hangout discussion with an instructor and several classmates about the weekly topic. To give you a taster, here is the overall plan for the class week by week:
Week 1: Audience
For this week we’ll get setup on the Google+ Community and Twitter. Once everyone is comfortable in our online classroom, we discuss the importance of identifying your audience. You can’t properly communicate to an audience you don’t understand, and this week we remove that hurdle from existence.
Week 2: 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 road-tested 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: Science 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. If you really begin to love blogging, we can help you take the next step by incorporating you into our own blog network!
Week 4: Public Presentations
Public speaking is one of the most common skills in science outreach. This week 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: Images
Regardless of what kind of outreach you plan on doing, images will almost certainly play a key role. But how do you craft images that powerfully advance your outreach? That’s the focus of this week. In addition, we’ll be wrapping up stuff from previous weeks of the class.