Google I/O 2017: Applying Lessons for Developers to Community Engagement

In January 2017, we wrapped up the training week for the inaugural class of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows is made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from the January training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. In this post, Dr. Stephanie E. Vasko recaps several talks from Google’s I/O 2017 conference and finds the link to community management.

Posted by Stephanie E. Vasko, Research Associate and Program Manager for the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative (TDI) at Michigan State University

Google I/O 2017 logo

As part of my push to develop new community engagement management skills during my fellowship year, I am interested in developing web apps for community engagement. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend Google I/O, Google’s annual developer conference at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA. While this conference is geared towards developers, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of talks I saw that touched on aspects of community engagement.

Community engagement managers often have to think about the design and display of their content for their communities, crafting content, and developing brand voice. Many communities rely less and less on in-person interactions for this and more on web resources and virtual meetings. This means that skills in areas like user experience design and designing for accessibility should be on the radar of all community engagement managers. In this vein, I wanted to share a recap of five talks from I/O that might help you expand or enhance your community engagement skills in these areas:

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Building a Community Playbook Part 1: What is it?

In January 2017, we wrapped up the training week for the inaugural class of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows is made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from the January training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today, CEFP Fellow Stephanie O’Donnell shares the first in a three part recap of a CEFP webinar on community playbooks. 

Posted by Stephanie O’Donnell, Community Manager at WILDLABS.net, Fauna & Flora International

Binders, a book, and a pencil
Busy…” by taylormcquarrie under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In the opening training week of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program, The Community Roundtable introduced the “Community Playbook” as a valuable tool for community managers.

A playbook pulls together all the information about your community from the disparate spaces where it’s been living, collates it and presents it in a way that is accessible for a specific audience. A community playbook can also serve to legitimise and build support for the work of your community team.

Over the course of the second half of our fellowship year, the Fellows will be creating playbooks for our own organizations. To help us with this, The Community Roundtable was invited to give an overview of the key components and considerations of playbooks during one of the CEFP monthly webinars. In this post, I’ll recap that introduction, presented by Rachel Happe and Georgina Cannie.

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The Community Lifecycle – Converting theory to practice as a community manager

Caterpillars and butterfly on a leaf
Monarch butterfly stages of development” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region under CC BY 2.0

Building online communities can be hard. Maybe you start a discussion and nothing happens – silence. Or maybe last week saw lots of conversation but this week you’re back to worrying that you’re talking to yourself. Combine that with the lack of training and resources for community managers and you can be left confused about what to do to help your community activate and grow.

One of the resources that we’ve used a lot at Trellis is the four-stage lifecycle model presented in Rich Millington’s book, “Buzzing Communities”. Millington’s model is based on a systematic review by Iriberri and Leroy which synthesized the results of 27 papers about online communities to create a model for how online communities progress. This lifecycle model is key if you’re a community manager because it explains clearly what to expect at each stage – and what you should be doing to move things along to the next.

We’ve now used this model in exercises for our AAAS Community manager journal club, for our AAAS Community Engagement Fellows training and even for a staff lunch and learn event. Read on for some key takeaways about the lifecycle model – and if you’d like to discuss it in more detail, you can request to join the C4Sci group on Trellis where we regularly discuss all things related to scientific community-building.

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Survey snapshot: Communications practices of small scale collaborations

Last week AAAS and Trellis hosted a three-day NSF-sponsored INCLUDES conference entitled: “The Technical and Human Infrastructure to Support Collective Impact of the INCLUDES Program at the Alliance and Network Levels”. The goal of the conference was to explore how small-scale pilot projects funded at the initial stage of the program might scale to larger collaborations.

To provide context for the discussions of collaboration infrastructure at the conference, we conducted a survey of tools and communication practices of the INCLUDES pilots. Here are three key takeaways based on 33 responses, covering 27 of the 37 total pilot projects.

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Beyond the March for Science: Science advocacy on Trellis

Crowd with one person holding "We <3 Science" sign
Stand Up For Science_4” by Peg Hunter under CC BY-NC 2.0

This Saturday scientists and science advocates will march on Washington in a call for science-based policies and a public celebration of science. But what happens next? AAAS and Trellis are committed to providing opportunities for participants to continue to engage with science advocacy and public engagement.

Yesterday, AAAS announced the release of an advocacy toolkit with resources for communicating science effectively, connecting with other science advocates, and working with congress. We’ll be exploring these themes on Trellis over the next few months. Read on to find out about several communities where you can learn more, build connections, and get involved.
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Building the infrastructure to support collaboration with NSF INCLUDES

NSF, Trellis, and AAAS logos

In September 2016 The National Science Foundation (NSF) issued the first round of awards for the NSF INCLUDES program. It gave out 37 pilot grants and 11 conference grants to applicants who seek to improve access to STEM education and career pathways for under-represented minorities. Trellis is excited to be a part of the INCLUDES initiative – contributing to it in two ways. Firstly, we’re providing the platform for synthesizing insights and reflections across the projects involved in the pilot phase of the program, using a private Trellis group for INCLUDES grantees. Secondly, several members of the Trellis team are involved with hosting one of the INCLUDES conferences.

This Wednesday, April 12th AAAS is hosting a three-day NSF-sponsored INCLUDES conference entitled: “The Technical and Human Infrastructure to Support Collective Impact of the INCLUDES Program at the Alliance and Network Levels”. The conference is being coordinated by Trellis’s founding general manager, Josh Freeman, Trellis’ Director for Community Engagement, Lou Woodley and AAAS Director of Education and Human Resources Programs Shirley Malcom. We’ll be delving deeper into the tools and communication needs of the pilot projects and how these might scale in order to successfully create an NSF INCLUDES 
National Network Backbone.

Over 70 participants are expected at the conference, with at least 25 different pilot projects represented. Items on the agenda include insights from the Science of Team Science movement and discussion of a pre-conference survey which looked at the current tools and communication patterns of the pilot grantees. Stay tuned as we report back on those conversations next week.

Celebrate milestones with Trellis groups

Confetti against a blue sky
Confetti” by ADoseofShipBoy under CC BY 2.0

2017 has been an exciting year for Trellis. We’ve seen record numbers of users logging in and engaging a rise in weekly active groups. We’ve also launched new groups for AAAS members interested in science advocacy and Trellis group admins. Beyond these site-wide metrics, a number of individual Trellis groups have also hit membership milestones this year. Join us in celebrating these growing communities.

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The #CEFP2017 Project Teams: Four open questions in scientific community management

Yellow cube with question marks on each side
Question Mark Block” by Jared Cherup under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The inaugural class of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation funded AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP) finished their on-site training In January, but their fellowship has just begun! In this post we’ll take a look at the four project teams that formed during training week and the community engagement questions they’re looking to answer over the course of the year.

Our Fellows will be contributing regularly to the blog throughout the fellowship – including reporting out the progress of their projects teams. You can catch up on their reflections so far here.

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Supporting a community of community builders on Trellis

Human pyramid
People pyramid” by Nathan Rupert under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

One of our founding values at Trellis is our commitment to training and supporting community managers in their efforts to nurture their communities. We knew from the start of this project that you can build a desirable toolset, but without dedicated group admins, it’s hard, if not impossible, to see groups thrive.

What’s more, community management matters regardless of the type of group involved. It could be a community of interest, gathering loosely around a particular topic. Or it could be a community of practice, wishing to advance and develop skills together. Or it could be a specific collaboration with defined goals and deliverables. In all cases, a skilled community manager will bring out the best in the group.

And that’s why, today, we’re delighted to launch a new group specifically for those running Trellis groups: The Trellis Admin Community.

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Why do academics use social networking sites?

Posted by Lou Woodley, Trellis’ Community Engagement Director

Person using a laptop
Browsing” by Nick Olejniczak under CC BY-NC 2.0

Last week some of the Trellis team took a quick look at a recent paper, which asks “Why do academics use academic social networking sites?” The paper presents the results of a survey of 81 researchers at three Israeli institutes who were asked about their motivations for using ResearchGate and Academia.edu.

The survey draws upon the Uses and Gratifications theory from the field of media studies for its research questions – exploring whether the five broad motivations for media consumers may also apply to academics that use online professional networks. Here we outline that theory and then highlight some of the findings from the paper.

Continue reading Why do academics use social networking sites?