In March 2017, we’ll be about half-way through the parallel tenures of our current class of Mozilla Fellows for Science and 2016 Open Web Fellows, which culminates in June 2017. That same month, we’ll also launch a new application for next year’s fellowships across both programs and including other opportunities to engage with the Mozilla Network through leadership in art, science, policy, and technology.
To commemorate this, to celebrate what our fellows have accomplished, and to document what we’d like to build with them over the next few months, we hosted a workweek in San Francisco (Feb 6th-10th). Read on to learn about how we structured the week, what we learned from the experience, and how you can engage further with our #mozfellowships moving forward!
Skill-Shares as Structure
For our Fellows’ Onboarding in Toronto (September 2016), we curated a schedule tailored to goal-setting, building collaborative projects (zines!), prepping for Mozfest, and facilitating introductions between the fellows and the surrounding Mozilla Network. What we found was that the fellows had so many skills to teach and to learn from each other, and that’s something we did our best to tease-out in subsequent fellows’ reunions.
This workweek, we asked the fellows to co-design the experience, and requested that each fellow submit a “skill share” proposal, a short description of something they felt comfortable teaching for 1.5-3 hours. From these submissions we created an agenda for the week dominated by fellows’ skill shares, punctuated by focused discussions on upcoming events (like our March Working Open Workshop), potential funding opportunities (amenable to open science and open source development) and Lunch-n-Learn meetings with Mozilla Staff and peripheral community members with loads to contribute. Topics for the skill shares ranged from workshops on time management, to sessions on mapping support and funding for open research, to walkthroughs on privacy protection and operational security among others. We allowed fellows to self-organize for evening dinners, and closed the week with a cocktail mixer on the 7th floor of the Mozilla San Francisco office, inviting the broader community in open science, research, journalism, and policy/advocacy to join us.
You’re welcome to peruse the schedule, and check out the Skill Share site and Github repository that the fellows built to store notes and workshop exercises for their shared activities throughout the week. For the Science Lab in particular, this work week was a great opportunity to crowdsource plans for our upcoming Working Open Workshop (WOW) in Montréal, discuss site design for that workshop and invite the fellows to co-design the program for that event with staff. The 2016 Science Fellows will join us for this event in Montréal, March 10-11th, and by involving them in the design process, we hope to coordinate mini-WOWs in their respective cities (or perhaps yours) in the coming months. Stay tuned!
We’ve found that a few templates regular polls in preparation for our workweeks maximize efficiency, and create a consistent practice.
- Poll the public – before and after each fellows workweek experience we send around a pre-event and post-event survey to assess expectations and determine how well they were met.
- Set norms – at the start of each workweek, we try to recap events and activities from the previous months, and we re-evaluate the “norms” set from the previous onboarding, to determine whether they still apply and reaffirm our collective commitment to creating safe space for everyone to work.
- Create space – feedback from previous events taught us that a ton of together-time also fosters a need for some alone-time, we accommodated for that in our pre-workweek survey where participants could request “evenings-off” and “coworking time,” this helped us develop a schedule from those requests.
- Evolve with agility – each evening, the staff supporting our workweek re-evaluated the success of the day and factored that into our decisions about the schedule for the subsequent day (check out the “timeslider” feature in the etherpad to view those changes), we sent reminder emails to all participants that evening with updates to the schedule and expectations for the next day’s sessions.
- Document and share – open culture is so core to our work at Mozilla, and our workweeks are no different, we do our best to share resources and outlines for our events so that others can profit from and model after our activities, or correct where appropriate, check out the Workweek Skill Share Site as an example of this.
Our fellowship call for applications 2017 will open mid-March, 2017. Stay tuned for updates and subscribe to our newsletter to hear more about the call for applications!