So I just got off the phone (or google hangout) with Beth Schechter (co-founder of Maptime and purveyor of all things awesome) and had a chat about what it means to bring people together to learn. I was curious to hear Beth’s take on collaborative learning and how to foster collaborations to communication information, and in my case science.

As one of the key brains behind Maptime, Beth has thought a lot about what it means to create a space for people to learn new things, share skills, and form a community around a particular interest. For Beth, the key to creating an inclusive, diverse, supportive, and thriving community hinges, in large part, on the word “ethics”.

What Beth bestowed onto me during our conversation was to simply ask myself, “is what you’re doing or how you’re doing it ethical?” If you can answer those questions and ensure that, for example, people are being fairly compensated for their work or you are giving people equal opportunities to participate, then you’re on the right track.

So what does this mean for me and in my quest to help foster collaborations around science communication? Essentially this means is that collaborations around science communication must be:

  • Truly collaborative - flat hiearchies with mutual respect for skills, time, and investment into a project.
  • Accessible for anyone/everyone - It is uncontestable that unpaid labor targets people in positions of privelage and does not encourage inclusivity, diversity, and access.
  • Iterative - working collaboratively means learning through making with an emphasis on the process and not the necessarily product.

Beth’s message was simple but powerful and is a true testament to that fact that the answers to the most difficult questions are right under our noses.

Thanks Beth!