Welcome to Mozilla Science Lab's Study Group Orientation!


2.2 Options for Study Group Sessions

As mentioned in module 1, “Introducing Mozilla Study Groups,” the format and schedule for study groups is flexible. You can modify it to fit the needs of your members, and revise or change it depending on what you find works best for your group. Here some formats that have worked well in Mozilla Study Groups to date. Got a great idea for another format? Tell us about it here!

Format: Work-Along
Description: A hands-on guided tour of a piece of code, tool, or other skill.
Time Required: 1+ hours to prepare; event time: 1 hour.
How To Do It: In this skill-sharing model, one group member demonstrates how they use a particular piece of code, tool, or other skill in their research, while everyone else follows along. It’s best if all members have laptops to work on, and the person who’s demonstrating can project their own screen for easy viewing. Work-alongs help your community discover new tools and see novel solutions to common problems. The presenter should have a plan, a set of notes, and some ideas for basic challenges or problems. it’s great if this documentation can follow the Study Group Template (see below), but remember this is not a lecture, it’s really all about learners trying out the skill themselves. See our list of tips for Work-Along presenters.

Format: Co-Working session, or Q&A/Help Session
Description: An open session where members work on separate projects, but help each other with problems and questions, and share successes.
Time Required: no time to prepare; event time: 2 hours
How To Do It: Get your Study Group together for a couple of hours. Start the session by having each member share (very briefly) what they are working on. After intros, everyone gets to work on their own project, but each member is encouraged to ask questions if they’re stuck, and share successes while they work. Co-working sessions are easy to run, and the format encourages collaboration, skill-sharing, and hands-on problem-solving in a casual, low-pressure environment… all while members to make progress on their own work! See our list of tips for co-working facilitators here.

Format: Strategy Circle
Description : A go-around where members describe a particular problem or issue they are facing, and the group together talks through solutions to each problem.
Time Required: minimal time to prepare; event time: 1 to 1.5 hours
How to Do it: Let members know in advance that they can come with a challenge or problem. One by one, invite members to describe their problem, and then open the floor for suggestions and a discussion of what kind of packages, tools or strategies they could try out to solve their problem. After each problem is discussed, spend the remaining time experimenting with those new ideas and getting help in a co-working session with the entire group.

Format: Hacky Hour
Description: A pub night or cafe meeting for researchers who are curious about code and open practice.
Time Required: minimal time to prepare (sending out invites); event time: flexible
How To Do It: A Hacky Hour is an informal, social get-together where community members meet one another, discuss new ideas, and build the personal ties that help strengthen any community. Hacky Hours are the easiest events to organize, since all that's required is an open cafe or pub! Hacky Hours are great “first-time” events for those curious about Study Groups. Holding a few Hacky Hours is an excellent way to recruit new Group members. As host, you’ll be focused on welcoming attendees and making introductions and connections. See our list of tips for hosting a successful Hacky Hour.

Format: Lightning Demo Series
Description: A series of short (10-15 minute) introductions to a tool, programming library, or piece of code.
Time Required: time to prepare: minimal (identify/invite presenters from your group); event time: about an hour
How To Do It: Ask four or five members to prepare short (10-15 minute) demonstrations of their favorite tool, library, or piece of code. These demos are meant only as short introductions to allow the audience to decide if they’re interested in learning more. Unlike work-a-longs, the audience isn’t expected to try out the tool or code during the demo, they’re just engaged, interested spectators. The presenter should encourage questions, and be sure to provide context for the tool, explaining how they use it in their own research. Switching between potentially wildly different ideas in a lecture format can get exhausting for the audience after more than an hour, so limit your number of presenters. If you have lots of willing presenters, consider throwing a Lightning Demo Party.

Format: Lighting Demo Party
Description: A mixer event with a science-fair set-up where the audience can walk around to get (5 minute) introductions to a tool, programming library, or piece of code.
Time Required: time to prepare: minimal (identify/invite presenters from your group, invite a lot of guests) event time: 1.5 hours.
How To Do It: Like the Hacky Hour, the Lighting Demo Party is an informal, social get-together where community members meet one another, discuss new ideas, and make friends. The main event is a series of 8 to 10 demos, set up around the room, with presenters at each station, ready to share and explain their tool or skill and chat with anyone who stops by. As above, presenters should be sure to introduce their research projects and the context in which they use the tool or code. These demos are shorter than those in the Demo Series, so people have time to experience each one during the event. Setting demos up in a big horse-shoe pattern lets people easily circulate, socialize, and talk about how they’ll use all these great new tools and ideas. Serve snacks and drinks if you like, and be sure to invite lots of people, so you have a good audience for your presenters.

These are just a few possible formats for your Study Group Meetings. If there’s another format you’ve used successfully or plan to test out, tell us about it here!