Content Design (CODE)

In this multi-week course you’ll focus on creating written content for your community that is informative, engaging, and aligned with an overall purpose. We’ll introduce a new CSCCE framework that will help you to identify the different types of content that you may have in your communications toolkit, and the different functions of each towards encouraging member engagement. While we will visit examples of the different content types and the fundamentals of writing clear and actionable prose, this course should not simply be thought of as a writing 101 course. Instead, it introduces a holistic and strategic way of creating content to support your community – something that we believe we are the only organization to provide training about.

Where CODE fits in CSCCE’s community manager training catalog

CODE is a required course in the CSCCE Community Manager Certification Program. Depending on participation by certification candidates, remaining places in the course will be made available for general registration. See below for pricing and registration details when general registration becomes available.


Content Design (CODE) is for all community managers who are creating written content to engage their members. All learners must first complete Scientific Community Engagement Fundamentals and be actively managing a community, collaboration, or team.

Course overview

This course will involve a mix of short lectures, group discussions, individual and collaborative activities, and group workshops (aka “crits”), in which learners will practice their writing and editing skills. Each week we’ll meet for a 90 minute lesson and a 90 minute crit, and learners should anticipate some work outside of class time. 

Each week’s session will include a written assignment, however learners can choose whether or not they would like to submit their assignment for feedback. To graduate from the course, learners must submit at least two assignments: one for peer-assessment and one for instructor feedback, and attend a majority of the sessions (two absences are permitted). 

Learners who would appreciate more guidance from the instructors can sign up for additional office hours below. 

Course syllabus and learning objectives

Please note, all course syllabi are currently in draft form. Please check back in September for additional details.

This course is still in its early development stages, and more details will be provided soon. Prospective learners can expect lessons to cover the following topics:

  • Identifying the function of different types of community-engaged content, e.g., blog posts, newsletters, and social media posts
  • Refining the voice and tone of your communications with different member types in your community and external audiences – and aligning the desired outcomes with CSCCE’s Community Participation Model
  • Consider content formats for optimal engagement including using templates, images, and working with designers
  • Curating and sharing your content, including reuse and licensing considerations
  • Synthesis and “big picture” communications

This course will equip learners with new and enhanced skills in planning, developing and publishing content that is specifically designed to engage community members and advance the mission of the community. Using a new CSCCE framework, participants will explore the different functions of a range of types of written content, with opportunities to create content of their own, and receive feedback from staff and their peers. 

The course will result in the creation of an actionable communications plan that draws upon multiple content types to support a content pillar (a significant output such as a landscape report or conference proceedings). 


This course is led by: 

  • Lou Woodley, CSCCE Director
  • Katie Pratt, CSCCE Communications Director and Content Archivist


Currently, CODE is only open to participants in the CSCCE Community Manager Certification Program. We will share more information about individual pricing options if spots on the course become available.

We intend to make CODE available for general registration in 2024. If this is of interest to you please email

Included in the course fee

The benefits of taking CODE include: 

  • Access to worksheets and templates to use in your day-to-day community communications work
  • Dedicated time for improving your writing and editing skills through instructor and peer feedback and discussion
  • Tangible strategies for improving your community’s written outputs
  • Access to one Quarterly Skills Share Session (normally only accessible to Certification Program participants and learning members)
  • A dedicated cohort channel in CSCCE’s Slack community of practice where you can share ideas and resources with your classmates and facilitators

Participants in the CSCCE Community Manager Certification Program will also receive:

  • Assessment of select course assignments by instructors 
  • digital badge to confirm your graduation from the course (dependent on completion of all course requirements)

Office hours

For an additional fee, we can also provide individualized office hours during the course. These four, hour-long one-to-one sessions with a member of the CSCCE training team include:

  • Review of your homework / worksheets. 
  • An opportunity to explore your questions about the course materials and your answers to the activities. 
  • A weekly tip-sheet for your supervisor to help to bridge the gap between what you’re learning during the course and implementation within your organization. This includes a short summary of the topics covered and suggested questions for discussion together. 

Places for office hours are limited so please contact us early if you’d like to add this to your course participation:

Upcoming session

Our fall offering of Content Design (CODE23F) will run on Mondays and Thursday beginning Monday, 9 October until Thursday, 16 November.

The key dates are: 

  • Monday sessions: 9, 16, 23, 30 October; 6, 13 November from 12pm – 1:30pm US Eastern 
  • Thursday sessions: 12,19, 26 October; 2, 9 November from 12pm – 1:30pm US Eastern 
  • Graduation: Thursday, 16 November from 12pm – 2pm US Eastern 

Information will be added here about general registration when it becomes available. Please email if you have any questions

Related consultancy offerings

CSCCE staff have extensive experience in delivering communications campaigns around key items of content (such as landscape reports or new guidebooks). We can help your organization to think through its current content and communications approach and how you might make it more engaging for community members – or create a specific campaign e.g., for a milestone event or publication.

If you’d like to learn more about our consulting services on this topic, please email to schedule a conversation.