Co-creating a community curriculum. Step one.

Co-creating a community curriculum. Step one.


I’m James and I work with Rosie to co-create an open source community curriculum. On 17 November 2022 we ran an open meetup . You can watch the recording. This post is a writeup of the event, outputs and roadmap for the future. More on the next meetup soon. Head over to The Village to discuss this post. Book time with me to discuss your community education journey.

What we did before the meetup

Since October 2022 Rosie and I’ve had a regular, weekly natter about the project. In between we work on the draft curriculum. Rosie created a bunch of questions for the meetup and together we facilitated the session.

What we did in the meetup

The meat of the meetup consisted of 3 parts:

  1. pose our questions via free text polls and encourage discussion,
  2. explain what we’re doing with the curriculum and why it's important,
  3. answer questions, take feedback, generate ideas and garner support.

Choosing what to share in this post

110 people registered of whom 39 joined. We asked 12 open questions giving a potential total of 468 answers. That’s a lot to report on, so I’ve selected the following 3 questions to focus on:

  • What is lacking in community education?
  • Where have you gotten stuck in building community?
  • What would you love to see within an open source course

Feel free to explore all the poll data.

What is lacking in community education?

Unlike answers to other questions below, we forgot to do the voting properly for this question. So instead of votes, I’ve gone with “total number of times people mentioned this topic”.

Stories” and similar got 5 mentions. Having content you can relate to definitely feels like a thing. It’ll be really interesting to source and choose relevant stories from the community, enabling buy-in but hopefully not alienating people whose stories we don’t include. Maybe this is where the community around the content comes in and the collective upvoting of the best stories and examples?

Support” and similar got 4 mentions, but I think that relates more to how we provide the courses, not how we design the content. Feel free to challenge me on that (-:

Metrics” and similar got 4 mentions. This is a perennial topic of discussion in community forums and meetups, so defo feels like it need clarifying in the curriculum.

Role models” and similar got 2 mentions. We know there’s loads of brilliant, established community professionals out there to feature - I’m working with one on this project :-) How do we find, invite and elevate new role models?

Synthesis” and “Interdisciplinary approach” got 2 mentions. Makes me think we always need to be reaching outside the community profession to find inspiration and validation from elsewhere. I’ve mentioned user researcher and agile practitioners, but I also think content design, product management and software development are 3 related disciplines we have a lot to learn from and include in the curriculum. What other disciplines would you include?

Accessibility” was mentioned twice, which makes me smile. As someone with mental health, learning disabilities and other sources of neurodiversity, I find poorly designed and displayed content frustrates and excludes me from learning. I believe that designing for edge cases makes things more accessible for everyone. We need to purposefully invite people with accessibility knowledge and experience to collaborate on this project. Who would you suggest?

Where have you gotten stuck in building community?

Never” was a bold claim from one attendee. Well done you! :-)

Engagement” and “involvement” got 20 votes. How do we motivate people both individually and as a group to participate in community, specifically our community over others? Or to be more collaborative, how do similar communities work together and possibly merge their members? How do we do what’s best for the community members, giving them a voice and stake in how things are done? Loads of interestings questions to explore around engagement and involvement. I suspect we’ll need a whole meetup on this one.

Growth”, including “Succession planning” and “Members rotation” 8 votes. This is a common area of discussion among community professionals, so we know we’ll need to cover it. I wonder if engagement and involvement are subcategories of growth - what do you think?

Technology” and “tools” and the data they capture got 3 votes. Should the curriculum include an overall approach? Do we list all the tools and then rate / discuss them? What about the use of physical space for communities - is that a tool?

Strategy” and “structure” got 3 votes. There’s loads of community strategy posts on Rosieland we can draw on for the curriculum. We should also look at “Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters” by Professor Richard Rumelt. To quote from Eda Kizak’s review of the book:

The book describes that the good strategy has an essential logical structure called kernel. The kernel of a strategy contains three elements: a diagnosis, a guiding policy, and coherent actions.

I really like this - makes creating a strategy feel more accessible.

Starting it” and “launches” got 2 votes. Could it be the confidence to just do it? Or knowing where to start, which maybe ties into strategy and community discovery? How do you do a high profile launch and what do we mean by “high profile”? Loads of interest questions to answer here.

Buy-in” and “patience” from “hi-ups” and “leaders” got 2 votes. I guess we’re talking about the people with the money and authority to approve things, right? How do you persuade them that community is the right thing to do, relative to competing priorities? Or that community is everything and without it we’re nothing? What about the indie / bootstrap community? Does buy-in apply there?

Motivation that it's all worth it 🙁“ got 3 votes. That’s where Rosieland’s community of community professionals can encourage and support each other, right? 🙂 Are there personal motivation techniques we could include in the curriculum? What would that look like?

What would you love to see within an open source course?

Stories”, “case studies” and “real life examples” got 8 votes. It mirrors the answer above in the “What’s missing” question, so we’ll definitely be putting effort in collecting stories. Who’s up for designing a set of standard interview questions?

A journey of building a community from start to finish” and “Community 101 - how to lay the foundations, common mishaps, etc.” got 8 votes. This feels like a no brainer, right? Does all community building follow the same path? If not, what are the common components? I wonder if we need a “golden thread” that runs thru the entire curriculum? Maybe using some of the stories that we could collect?

Templates” got 7 votes. But templates for what? Community discovery interview or survey questions? Minimum viable community checklists? I suspect the answers will fall out of other work.

Different levels for junior, mid and senior Community people” got 5 votes. The delivery manager role I do in the civil service goes from associate, thru senior to head of delivery manager. It’s part of a larger framework of roles and might be an inspiration for what we’re doing here.

Leadership qualities” and “out of the box thinking and ideas” got 3 votes. This answer is really interesting to me. Which leadership qualities are we talking about? Are they innate or something that can be learned? Fascinating 🖖🏻

Exercise and activities” got 2 votes. This feels like a standard part of any curriculum. It also matches the ‘train and trainer’ training I’ve had. It emphasised getting to an exercise as soon as possible, once you’ve started a course.

Collaboration” plus “Friends and circles with whom we can thrive together” got 2 votes. Similar to above this is the community around the curriculum, especially in a cohort based learning environment.

What to do next

2 challenges that Rosie & I have with this project are:

  • limited time we can both contribute,
  • knowing what to focus on next.

So a really cool question that Rosie posed in the meetup was, “What do you think we should do next?”

Here are the top answers that’ll help us focus on what to do now, next and later:

  • 9 votes = Meetup and brainstorm over tea
  • 4 votes = Define community and other terminology
  • 2 votes = Create groups for the different topics above
  • 2 votes = Define what to focus on in the groups above
  • 1 votes = Decide which technology (Slack) we collaborate on

Although it didn’t get any votes, a couple of people mentioned creating surveys or interviews. They should then be sent to everyone who signed up for the original meet, and then onto our own communities.


Based on the answers above, I suggest the following:

  • Now = agree date and topic for a collaborative curriculum creation session
  • Next = organise ourselves into working groups
  • Later = use the collaboration model as building blocks of the community curriculum

How you can get involved

Trip on over to The Village and join the conversation.

I'd also love to interview you and replay your memories of courses you've attended and what did / didn't work for you. Book a slot with me via

Thanks so much for reading. Please subscribe to get future Rosieland posts. C u soon (-:

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