Hosting an Online Skillshare for Gov 3.0

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Every semester in the Gov 3.0 program, we conduct at least one “skillshare,” inviting the participants to teach to and learn from their peers. In past semesters, we’ve conducted these skillshares in person, as all of our participants were NYU students. This year, however, we’re working with a mixed classroom, consisting of 18 NYU students and 31 remote learners, who have been participating in the program online. This presented a new set of challenges when organizing the skillshare.

To solve this problem, we decided to host the skillshare online, using Google Hangout and The MIT Media Lab’s Unhangout platform. Using Unhangout, we were able to set up a number of “breakout rooms” where the skillshare sessions could be held via Google Hangout.

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In order to plan the sessions, we conduced a survey of the participants asking them to identify the skills that they would need to learn in order to fully realize their projects and volunteer the skills that they would be comfortable teaching. We did our best to match demand to supply, inviting in outside experts to help fill in the gaps. In addition to sessions led by Gov 3.0 participants, we were joined by colleagues from DataKind, Google, Socrata and the GovLab, who generously volunteered their time and skills. In total, we ended up with 11 different 30-minute sessions, covering topics ranging from data visualization and web development to expert systems and interactive storytelling. Participants dialed in from Switzerland, Mexico and Canada, as well as locations all over the U.S.

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Overall, we felt that the event was a success both in terms of the opportunites it afforded for participants to teach and learn relevant skills, as well as the connection it helped to facilitate between the NYU students and online participants. When organizing skillshares in the future, we’re very likely to use the Unhangout platform in a similar fashion.

The full schedule for the skillshare is below:

5pm sessions

Breakout Room 1
Data for Social Good [Peter Darche, DataKind]:
Peter will discuss his work at DataKind, a non-profit organization that brings together leading data scientists with high impact social organizations through a comprehensive, collaborative approach that leads to shared insights, greater understanding, and positive action through data in the service of humanity.

Breakout Room 2
Open Transit Data [Brian Ferris, Google]:
Open transit data: what it is, where it comes from, the ecosystems it has enabled, and its impact on both government agencies and citizens alike.

Breakout Room 3
[Jillian Raines and Antony Declercq, GovLab]:
We’re going to present on the GovLab’s ICANN Project, i.e. how we’ve gone about our quest for developing the framework for a 21st century institution governing in the global public interest.

Breakout Room 4
Human-Centered Design [Rubina Haddad]:
Tools and techniques to help you focus on the user and their goals at the beginning of the project and throughout.

Breakout Room 5
Visualize your data with Tableau software [Erin Simpler]:
Learn the key features and get started with using this free software to explore data and create interactive visualizations share-able through the web. If you plan to participate in this session, please download a free trial of Tableau prior to the session and be prepared to follow along on your machine.

6pm sessions

Breakout Room 1
How to Build an Expert System [David Johnson and Kathryn Johnson]:
The theory and practice of building and deploying systems that provide situation specific guidance with regard to legal (and other) issues, based on user responses to questions and application of internal logic developed by non-coder experts and knowledge engineers.

Breakout Room 2
The Complete Newb’s Introduction to Web Development [Chris Whong, Socrata]:
Chris Whong will teach you the most basic of basics of HTML, CSS, javascript. You WILL write code during this session!

Breakout Room 3
The Secret Lives of Bureaucrats [Kathy Sachs]:
What citizens need to know to profoundly change government (or really any institution).

Breakout Room 4
Strategic Communications [Daniel Soto]:
In this session I will show how to use communications to support the objectives of your organization by reaching target audiences: what is strategic communications, how to define the objectives of the communication plan, how to map your key audiences, what are some tactics available to us, and how to measure results, among other parts of the process.

Breakout Room 5
Producing Media for Interactive Storytelling [Christopher Penalosa]:
In my workshop, I will cover the process of using open-source tools to tell stories.

Breakout Room 6
Introduction to Adobe Creative Suite [Kirk Hovenkotter]:
People pay attention to great design. Adobe Creative Suite allows you to make it. This quick tutorial will run over how you can utilize Photoshop, Illustrator, and inDesign to make your slide deck and data look more appealing. If you plan on participating in this session, please download a free trial of Adobe CS prior to class and be prepared to follow along on your machine.

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