CSCCE Community Manager Certification Program

Overview

CSCCE’s Community Manager Certification Program builds upon our foundational Scientific Community Engagement Fundamentals (CEF) course to create a longer-form, multi-component, online program for STEM community managers. The program will equip community managers and their organizations with necessary skills and frameworks to ground their work in a community-centric leadership approach – and to signal those qualifications to others. 

Why certification?

Community management in STEM is an emerging career path, with new roles being created with increasing frequency. Both our 2016 survey of the State of Scientific Community Management and our more recent Community Manager Case Studies project showed that many community managers start out with little to no training, and are expected to learn on the job. This can lead to burnout, unmet expectations, and a general failure to realize the full potential of community efforts. Having offered our CEF course as a foundational training for two years now, we know that there is a need for community managers to develop additional skills and expertise beyond these core principles – and to be able to demonstrate their qualifications in a shared currency that’s valued across the STEM ecosystem. Our new certification program is intended to meet these needs, further professionalizing the role of the community manager in STEM.

What is the program?

The CSCCE Community Manager Certification program consists of two required multi-week courses, an elective course, mini-workshops, networking opportunities, and ongoing participation in a peer-learning community. It can be completed in two years or less and explores community management concepts including content development, community playbooks, and how social science research can support community managers in designing ways for members to engage. 

Participants can chart their own path through the program, choosing elective specialties complemented by a constellation of short form trainings in everything from running virtual events to creating core values. Courses, mini-workshops, and cohort-building activities will take place multiple times throughout the two years, allowing for schedule customization and a more accelerated path through the program, if desired. Successful completion results in the award of a certificate and digital badges that graduates can display on their LinkedIn pages and virtual CVs. 

Throughout the program sequence, participants will encounter real-world community management tasks and workflows by developing materials using our frameworks, reflecting on community engagement philosophies with their peers, and sharing work products during collaborative lab (co-lab) sessions. 

Incredibly professional in every aspect; I couldn’t think of one detail in structure or facilitation that wasn’t perfect!

Community Engagement Fundamentals participant, December 2020

Why CSCCE?

CSCCE is the leading training organization for community managers in STEM. Our mission is to professionalize and institutionalize the role of the community manager in STEM – and we see this certification program as a way to meet both of those aims. 

As an organization, our activities started more than 6 years ago (incubated first at AAAS and now three years as a successful non-profit project), and our staff cumulatively have multiple decades of experience in community management.

We have a strong reputation as a trusted source of information and training. Our published materials have been downloaded over 30,000 times and referenced in grants, strategic plans, and evaluations. We regularly evaluate our training courses and the large majority of our learners (78% very likely, 19% likely) would recommend them to others.

If you have any questions about the program, please first check our extensive FAQs and then email training@cscce.org if you still need further clarification.   

Informational drop-in sessions

If you would like to learn more about the program, please consider attending a live informational session with CSCCE’s Director, Lou Woodley, and Director of Learning, Camille Santistevan. 

If you are unable to attend, we will post a recording of the informational portion of the webinar here after 7 December 2022. You can also email any questions to training@cscce.org.

Prerequisites 

Graduation from CEF is a prerequisite to enroll in CSCCE’s community manager certification program. Some exceptions may be possible, e.g., for CEFP graduates.

Because of the way the program and learning activities are structured, you will need to be in a community management role (whether or not that is your title) and actively managing or about to launch a community. This program is not suitable for anyone hoping to become a community manager. If you are considering a community-focused career path, please reach out to training@cscce.org to discuss your options.

Program composition

i) Core courses

All participants enrolled in the certification program will take two core courses: Content Design (CODE) and Creating Community Playbooks (PBK). We also welcome learners in these courses who are not enrolled in the certification program, provided they have completed the CEF course (or have a valid exemption).

Course one: Content Design (CODE)

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).  

Visit the course webpage for more information. 

Course two: Creating Community Playbooks (PBK)

A community or team playbook is a key piece of community scaffolding that can support staff, members, and community champions in working together in a productive and inclusive way. This course will use CSCCE’s community playbook framework and supporting templates to guide participants in creating this valuable documentation for their community. Co-working sessions with guest mentors will add additional, practical perspectives about implementation. 

Visit the course webpage for more information.

ii) Elective courses

Having completed CODE and PBK, participants can then choose one elective course –  either Communities of Practice (CoP) or Nurturing Online Communities (NOC). 

Communities of Practice (CoP)

Communities of practice and social learning spaces are unique from other types of communities, and are often misunderstood and mismanaged. This course will address the dynamics of learning in a community context and how to support the creation of knowledge artifacts that capture those learnings for broader dissemination. Learners will leave equipped not just with the language and frameworks to describe their CoP and the interactions within it, but also the tactics to support multi-directional knowledge sharing.

Visit the course webpage for more information.

Nurturing Online Communities (NOC)*

Building and nurturing a community in an online environment comes with specific needs and challenges. This course will take a social science approach to online behavior and how to stimulate engagement and nurture commitment in the virtual environment. With case studies and opportunities to apply the literature to your own community, participants will leave with clear ideas about what to do next in their own community.

Visit the course webpage for more information.

*If you have already taken the pilot version of NOC, you do not need to take the updated version of the course unless you would like to. Even if you don’t join the course, for your participation to count towards certification you will be required to complete a final short graduation project, and you will have access to the updated course materials. Please contact training@cscce.org for more information. 

iii) Additional programming

In addition to the three courses that you’ll complete, you will also participate in mini-workshops and networking activities, and receive feedback from your instructors along the way. 

Mini-workshops

All participants will attend six 90-minute mini-workshops from a catalog of options to round out their formal instruction. Mini-workshops will cover a topic that doesn’t necessitate a full course, but that we consider highly applicable to community managers. Two of the six mini-workshops – on core values and giving and receiving feedback – will be required as part of the onboarding and orientation experience. You can then choose an additional four mini-workshops to make up the six-workshop requirement.

While the rest of the catalog is being finalized, it will include content on planning and running virtual events and best practices for working with volunteers.

More information 

Networking activities

Throughout the period of your enrollment you will also be expected to participate in a minimum number of cohort activities. These will include attending:

  • An orientation experience at the beginning of the program
  • A minimum of two quarterly skills share sessions – including presenting a lightning talk at one of them 
  • Final graduation

More information

Peer learning and sharing

CSCCE learning experiences have always placed value on cohort-building, with a core appreciation for the fact that learners excel in spaces where their existing expertise is valued, and vulnerability, privacy, and curiosity are respected. As you move through the program, you will have access to the other members of your cohort in a private Slack channel, as well as ongoing opportunities for synchronous connection. 

Benefits and outputs

Upon graduating from the program, learners will have created a collection of outputs for their own communities, including:

  • A plan for a communications campaign designed around a content pillar (a significant item of content such as a report or conference proceedings).
  • A playbook “lite” covering the six key areas in the CSCCE playbook framework which include documenting who is in the community, the programming, reusable templates and tools currently in use.
  • Additional outputs depending on elective participation:
    • An onboarding plan for their online community
    • An outline launch plan for new online community programming
    • A timeline of when different types of commitment become relevant to online community members – and how to support building that commitment
    • A case study of how to solve an engagement challenge in their online community using social science theory
    • A knowledge management or programming plan related to knowledge sharing for their community

Many of these outputs will use, and build upon, your Member Analysis and Content and Programming worksheets from CEF.

Amazing effort by the course leaders to create such an IRL feeling in an online course!

Community Engagement Fundamentals participant, December 2020

Training format and learning tools 

To date, synchronous CSCCE training sessions (e.g., for CEF) have taken place primarily in Zoom. Various activities during lessons and co-labs do model the use of additional tools, including: Google Workspace, Gather, Wonder, Padlet and Mural.

We are currently enhancing our teaching infrastructure so that future courses, including the certification program, will take place through a learning management system (LMS) called Canvas. Learners participating in the certification program will therefore be able to access course materials (e.g., lesson slide decks and worksheets), complete homework assignments and assessments, and access additional activities through a single portal. 

Assessment

Throughout the  program your learning will be supported and assessed with quizzes, assignments, and capstone projects, depending on the courses you are taking. To graduate from the program and become a CSCCE-certified community manager you will:

  • Successfully complete three multi-week courses (2 core courses and one elective)
  • Successfully complete six mini-workshops (including two that are required as part of your onboarding and orientation experience)
  • Participate in a minimum number of the additional cohesive activities such as quarterly skills share sessions

More information about assessment for each program component is available on the respective web pages. 

Graduation and digital badges

Learners will receive a digital badge for each course they complete, as well as a final badge signifying they are a CSCCE-certified community manager. Upon successfully completing the program, learners will also receive a certificate confirming they are a CSCCE-certified community manager. 

We will share instructions about how to access and use the digital badges, which can be added to a graduate’s LinkedIn profile. 

Timeline and time commitment 

There will be two onboarding and orientation periods to the program in 2023 – one in March and one in September. These are expected to take several hours over the course of a two-week period. From orientation, learners will then enter their first program component (expected to be the CODE course) and will have up to two years to complete all of the program requirements (i.e., learners enrolling in January 2023 will graduate from the program in December of 2024).

More information is coming soon – including a 2023/2024 course timetable.

Instructors

Throughout the certification program, participants will receive expert instruction from the members of our training team, as well as input from guest instructors and mentors from both our staff team and our extended network of experienced STEM community professionals. 

The CSCCE training team is continuing to grow and currently includes: 

  • Lou Woodley, Director
  • Camille Santistevan, Director of Learning
  • Alice Martinic, Training and Curriculum Development Specialist

Please check individual course descriptions and the course schedule for more information about who will lead each program component. 

Pricing

Registration fees for the full course of study are: 

  • $5000 for participants from non-profit organizations or academic institutions
  • $7500 for participants from for-profit organizations or those who wish to contribute at a supporting rate

We are also working on a financial aid fund so that we can support a diverse group of learners. If you would like to contribute to that fund, please reach out to training@cscce.org. You can also use the intent-to-enroll form to let us know more about your financial needs. 

How to enroll

We are now accepting pre-enrollment through our intent-to-enroll form. Each cohort of certification candidates will include up to 25 participants, and we will be enrolling on a first come, first served basis. By filling in the inter-to-enroll form, you are letting us know that you are serious about joining a 2023 cohort of the CSCCE Community Manager Certification Program. We will be following up with you to confirm payment details, including considerations around financial aid.