Category Archives: Community Engagement

Considering Community: The Connect-Align-Produce network model for social-impact networks

Posted by Lou Woodley, Community Engagement Director – Trellis and Program Director – AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program

This post originally appeared on Social in silico.

Cartoon with arrows pointing from human face to human face
How many people in your network are connected to others in the network? Image credit: Jurgen Appelo on Flickr

For regular online communities, such as those hosted by an organisation, we looked at the four stage model of the community lifecycle described in Rich Millington’s “Buzzing Communities”. Last week, we considered a different type of community – a social-impact network where the emphasis is on group members working together for a social good. In “Connecting to Change the World”, the authors discuss three different stages of a social-impact network – and how it’s possible to transition between them. Let’s consider this connect-align-produce model.

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Considering Community: What’s a social-impact network?

Posted by Lou Woodley, Community Engagement Director – Trellis and Program Director – AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program

This post originally appeared on Social in silico.

What’s a social-impact network?

This week I’ve been reading “Connecting to change the world” by Peter Plastrik, Madeleine Taylor and John Cleveland. It’s a focused, practical guide to building a very specific type of community – a social-impact network.

Whereas the word community has now been adopted for somewhat ambiguous use in a wide variety of scenarios involving groups of people, a social-impact network has a clear definition. It’s a collection of collaborators who are working together in some way to address a complex social issue.

Social-impact networks are self-organising – with decision-making distributed across the networks and with a structure that may change rapidly (such as the formation or closure of working groups).

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Community Organizing Lessons for Science Community Managers

We’re now mid-way through the first year 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 their training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today, Fellow Melissa Varga identifies ways that community management is a model of community organizing.

Posted by Melissa Varga, Outreach Associate and Online Community Manager at Union of Concerned Scientists 

South Dunedin community art project. Organised by Malcam Trust Wilkie Road, South Dunedin.
South Dunedin community art project” by Paul Allen under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Following the 2016 election, we saw a huge increase in interest and engagement from  scientists around the country who wanted to get more involved in advocacy, policy, and public engagement. At the Union of Concerned Scientists, we saw a record influx in the number of Science Network members, as well as high levels of engagement around advocacy actions—not just opportunities from our organization, but rallies and letters organized by other groups as well. In light of this I’ve been thinking a lot about the overlap between scientist engagement and community management, and how organizing skills are important for both. Building off of CEFP Fellow Rosanna Volchok’s blog post, here are a few more ways that community management is a model of community organizing.

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The Value of #Welcome, part 2: How to prepare 40 new community members for an unconference

We’re now mid-way through the first year 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 their training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today, Fellow Stefanie Butland follows up on her earlier pieces about welcoming community members and running an unconference with more specific advice.

Posted by Stefanie Butland, Community Manager at rOpenSci, – Open Tools for Open Research

I’ve raved about the value of extending a personalized welcome to new community members and I recently shared six tips for running a successful hackathon-flavoured unconference. Building on these, I’d like to share the specific approach and (free!) tools I used to help prepare new rOpenSci community members to be productive at our unconference. My approach was inspired directly by our AAAS CEFP training in community engagement. Specifically, 1) one mentor said that the most successful conference they ever ran involved having one-to-one meetings with all participants prior to the event, and 2) prior to our in-person AAAS-CEFP training, we completed an intake questionnaire that forced us to consider things like “what do you hope to get out of this” and “what do you hope to contribute”.

Continue reading The Value of #Welcome, part 2: How to prepare 40 new community members for an unconference

How do I become a “community-whatsit”?

We’re now mid-way through the first year 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 their training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today, Fellow Malin Sandström discusses her path to defining her community manager career.

Posted by Malin Sandström, Community Engagement Officer at INCF (International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility) 

Magnifying glass highlighting the word "Jobs" in a newspaper
Job Listings” by www.flazingo.com under CC BY-SA 2.0

“Don’t worry about understanding everything at once, NOBODY has the right background for this” said my MSc thesis supervisor, a dozen or so years ago. Then, the advice applied to mathematical modeling of the biochemical networks involved in learning and memory, an area that came with heaps of dense academic papers peppered with acronyms and incomprehensibly condensed descriptions of experimental protocols. Now, that advice applies equally well to community management, an area of expertise I did not even know existed in science until a few years ago.

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Collaborative technologies – facilitating how we conduct research together

Posted by Lou Woodley, Community Engagement Director – Trellis and Program Director – AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program

3 people using laptops. Two have letters and numbers obscuring their heads.
Illustration from Think Quarterly by Matt Taylor

Last week I attended the Science of Team Science (SciTS) conference in Clearwater Beach, Florida where I took part in a couple of sessions, and moderated a third. Here I’m going to share some reflections from the first session which focused on collaborative technologies for academic collaborations.

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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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The moment you realize you have become a “Community Engagement Manager”

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, we’re sharing Elisha Wood-Charlson’s tale of becoming a community engagement manager.

Posted by Elisha Wood-Charlson, Data/Research Communications Program Manager for the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology

White lightbulb
Lightbulb – Great Idea!” by uberof202, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Actually, there were several moments – four to be exact – where I stumbled into, explored, and finally embraced the role of “Community Engagement Manager”:

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Scientific community managers’ top challenges and training needs

In our series of posts about results of the AAAS State of Scientific Community Management survey we’ve looked into what types of organizations are home to scientific communities, examined their communication channels and ways of planning activities, and analyzed scientific community managers’ backgrounds, skill sets, and how their positions are funded.

In our final blog post about survey results (complete report coming soon), we return to the topic of community managers’ skill sets, focusing on their top challenges and the areas where they want more training.

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