The COVID-19 pandemic transformed virtual events. Connecting online suddenly became the only way to convene groups large and small, for short meetings or multi-day conferences, and community managers often found themselves developing new meeting formats or learning to use new platforms and tools.
Fast forward to June 2023, and a lot has changed. Platforms have evolved (and sometimes dissolved), event organizers have mastered their own suites of engagement tools, and, as participants, we’re more seasoned (although “you’re on mute!” remains a frequent refrain in Zoom meetings!).
We’ve also gained a much deeper appreciation for what it means to host a truly accessible online event. While online events opened up spaces to many people who’d previously been excluded (e.g., through reduced registration, travel, or childcare costs), for others, it made it even harder to participate.
In a new resource we’ve been working on with community members Rebecca Carpenter, Sara Kobillka, Casey Wright, Yanina Bellini Saibene, and Hao Ye, we offer 12 guiding questions to help you think about the ways that you could improve the accessibility of your community events. And in this blog post, we share our three top tips.
As the academic year winds down for many of us, and we head into the season of conferences, field work, and vacations, it’s time for CSCCE’s fourth annual mid-year social!
Every year around this time we invite you to join a community call that’s focused on helping you to meet other members of the CSCCE community of practice who are interested in some of the same community management topics as you are. In brief, you tell us the topics that you’re hoping to connect around, we work behind-the-scenes to make everyone a personalized list of pairings, and then we all spend the call enjoying meeting the people on our virtual “networking dance cards!” Read on to find out more about what to expect and how to sign up, and do reach out to email@example.com if you have any requests or suggestions
Whether you’re a new community manager tasked with standing up an online space for your members, or you’re just not happy with the platform you’ve been using for years and need to find a new one, picking the right software or application for your community is a big deal.
There are a number of different tools available, all with their own features, quirks, and costs, and it can be daunting to get started with your market research, budgeting, and, eventually, implementation. That’s where CSCCE tools trials come in! In 2020 and 2021 they were a semi-regular event as communities necessarily embraced online connection – and now they’re more of a pop-up event as needs arise.
At this month’s community call/tools trial, thanks to a thread that took off in the CSCCE Community of Practice Slack, we took a closer look at Discourse. Discourse is an open-source community discussion platform that can be tailored to meet the needs of a range of communities. A brief tour of the platform by CSCCE’s Maya Sanghvi was followed by two demos from members of the CSCCE Community of practice: Andra Stratton (Program Manager for the Rare as One Network at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative) and Isaac Farley (Technical Support Manager at Crossref).
This month, we’re hosting an impromptu Tools Trial for our community call. In response to significant interest from the members of our community of practice (find out more about our community), we’ll be getting together in Zoom on Friday, 26 May 2023 at 10am EDT / 2pm UTC to share expertise and explore the functionality of Discourse.
This month’s “salon-style” call focused on the changing landscape of social media, and how STEM professionals are engaging (or not) on platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and more. Lou and Katie created a loose scaffold to facilitate the call, drawing on their many, many years of life online, and we thoroughly enjoyed the conversation that unfolded.
We did not record this month’s call, so that everyone who participated could feel comfortable sharing their opinions and experiences, and this recap is intentionally free of identifying information. We’ve also collected the resources shared on the call at the end of this post – from books to blog posts to suggestions of people to follow – so scroll on to find out more!
The last few years have seen a shift in how people behave online. More and more, we see individuals announcing that they will leave this platform or that, either for new websites or for a life lived less online. Relatedly, spaces that are more private are increasingly replacing public ones for conference back channels and subject-specific discussions. While these changes may be understandable, as community managers, this shift away from sharing and connecting in public forums presents very real challenges.
During this month’s salon-style community call, we will investigate how the upheavals in social media platforms (and how people engage with them) are impacting community-building activities online. Please come ready to share your experiences and opinions, as well as any ideas you have for what’s next. This month’s call will not be recorded, but a recap blog post will be made available shortly after.
On this month’s call, we invited the Organizational Mycology team to facilitate an Oblique Thinking Hour activity for CSCCE community members. Beth Duckles and Dan Sholler led us through a series of prompts, culminating in breakout conversations where participants looked at community manager challenges from a range of surprising perspectives.
Oblique Thinking Hours
So, you might be wondering: “What is an Oblique Thinking Hour?” These sessions are an experimental way of facilitating a group as they work through a problem or challenge. Instead of attacking the problem head on, they come at it “obliquely,” building an appreciation for what everyone brings to the table before trying to find a solution.
Are you facing a community management challenge right now that you just can’t find a solution to? In this month’s community call, CSCCE community of practice member Beth Duckles will facilitate an Oblique Thinking activity to help us all work together on finding solutions.
This year, we’re switching up our community call formats, cycling around three broad approaches each quarter: i) sharing of skills and knowledge e.g, via talks, panel discussions and show and tell; ii) building together e.g, by combining our collective knowledge to do or make something new – including shaping our CoP and; iii) providing more opportunities to build deeper connections with one another via various different approaches to networking that are grounded in skills you can reuse in your own role.
This month, we are focusing on connecting, and you can expect something completely different from any CSCCE community call that’s come before! We’ll be asking you to share your varied skills, including those you might not flex so often in the workplace, and collaborate with other members of the community to solve common challenges in STEM community management. Expect to leave feeling energized and having connected more deeply to other members of the CSCCE CoP!
This month our community call focused on the accessibility of community resources and programming – emphasizing practical actions we can all take to support the participation of members with disabilities. We heard from two members of our community of practice; Sara Kobilka (of Renaissance Woman Consulting and co-creator of the Digital Engagement Accessibility Toolkit) and Rebecca Carpenter (Virtual Academic Community Manager of the Deaf STEM Community Alliance at Rochester Institute of Technology); held space for questions and discussion, and finished the call with a “show and tell” of some tools that can aid in the accessibility of slide decks, websites, Zoom calls, and written content.
In this blog post, we share an overview of the call, including recordings of Sara and Rebecca’s presentations, as well as a number of helpful resources that you can take a look at. We’re also working on a short resource to help guide STEM community managers specifically, and if that seems like something you’d like to be involved in making, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a community manager, you work hard to create resources that are available to as many people as possible. When it comes to digital resources, this includes making sure that your PDFs are screen-reader compatible, your Zoom calls are captioned, and your slide decks don’t feature text that is too small.
On this month’s call, we’ll hear from CSCCE staff and members of our community of practice about how to create accessible resources, as well as check whether your existing resources need an update.
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