Online Course: Introduction to Citizen Science and Scientific Crowdsourcing

At UCL’s Extreme Citizen Science department we are offering a new course: Introduction to Citizen Science and Scientific Crowdsourcing. For UCL students it is an optional module in MSc Geography; but it is open as an online course to anyone in the world. It will be asynchronous, which means you do not have to watch the lectures at any given time, but they will be made available as segmented videos with quizzes every Friday. There will be reading lists and a forum on UCL Extend for you to track your progress, answer questions and talk with others on the course. You can register your interest here.



The announcement from Muki Haklay in full:

It’s a new year, and just the right time to announce that starting on the 11th January, UCL will run an 11 weeks hybrid (online and face to face) course called “Introduction to Citizen Science and Scientific Crowdsourcing”. This course aim is to introduce students to the theory and practice of citizen science and scientific crowdsourcing. The module will explore the history, theoretical foundations, and practical aspects of designing and running citizen science projects and it will be mostly taught by members of the Extreme Citizen Science group (we have some guests from other organisations such as Earthwatch)

The course is run for the first time as part of the M.Sc. programmes at the Department of Geography at UCL, with face to face lectures and practical work. In the spirit of citizen science, we’re opening the course, and it will be available on the UCLeXtend website. The course will run as a hybrid – the material was designed to develop the learning of the students in the class, but then organised in a way that anyone who wants to join the course remotely can do so. The reading material and class preparation videos are all open access, and in the practicals, we are using open source software or websites that you can access regardless of your registration. Of course, you can’t get the UCL credits for attending the class if you are just joining remotely – and those that attend the class will be assessed through two assignments that will be marked, but there are plenty of reflection questions and discussions in the online course for you to assess your progress and to provide us with feedback on how the course is going.

It’s not exactly MOOC and we want to experiment with this hybrid mode of opening up the course, in the hope that it will be useful and rewarding to join us.

Each week, there will be two lectures and a practical session that will demonstrate some aspects of the issues that were covered during the lectures. Each lecture and the activities that are linked to it are planned to last about an hour.

As a preparation for class, we will provide a video or two to watch and 2 or 3 pieces of text to read. These are necessary since the lecture assumes this preparation. The necessary readings are marked “Core Reading”. We also provide “Additional Reading” – these are usually pieces that were discussed in class but can be read after it. Finally, there are “Deep Dive” reading are expanding on the class material and might be used in assignments (if you take the face to face course), or to expand your understanding (if you are taking the course remotely).

Below you’ll find an outline of the course and its content. If you’re interested, register on UCLeXtend, and fill in this pre-registration form. The course will be open on UCLeXtend in the week before it starts, so if you fill in the form, I’ll contact you when the course is open to enrolment.


Here is the planned content (date, content and lead):

11 Jan

  • Lecture: Historical citizen science, current trends that influence citizen science, and an overview – Muki Haklay
  • Lecture: Landscape of citizen science – Typologies – Muki Haklay
  • Practical: experiencing citizen science – PenguinWatch, Gender and Tech Magazines, and GalaxyZoo – Alex Papadopoulous

18 Jan

  • Lecture: Crowdsourcing principles and practice – Muki Haklay
  • Lecture: Scientific crowdsourcing examples (guest lecture TBA) – Muki Haklay
  • Practical: More complex crowdsourcing – OpenStreetMap and EyeOnAlz – Alice Sheppard

25 Jan

  • Lecture: User-centred design principles for citizen science technology – Artemis Skarlatidou
  • Lecture: Online volunteer engagement, management, and care – Alice Sheppard
  • Practical: Volunteers engagement scenarios – Alice Sheppard

1 Feb

  • Lecture: User-Centred Design methods for citizen science technology – Artemis Skarlatidou
  • Lecture: User-Centred Design Methods for citizen science technology (guest lecture TBA) – Artemis Skarlatidou
  • Practical: Usability evaluation of citizen science application – cognitive walkthrough and heuristic evaluation – Alex Papadopoulous

8 Feb

  • Lecture: Dealing with data in citizen science – quality, management, and sharing – Muki Haklay
  • Lecture: Practical aspects of data management – technologies and existing systems – Muki Haklay
  • Practical: using and analysing citizen science data with OPAL Data Explorer – Alex Papadopoulous

15 Feb

  • No Class — Reading week

22 Feb

  • Lecture: Citizen Science in environmental management and monitoring – Muki Haklay
  • Lecture: Scales and types of environmental citizen science (guest lecture from Earthwatch TBA)
  • Practical: developing data collection tool with Esri Survey123 – Alex Papadopoulous

1 Mar

  • Lecture: Ethics and legal aspects of citizen science – Muki Haklay
  • Lecture: Introduction to data collection for non-literate participants, Sapelli – Julia Altenbuchner
  • Practical: Developing data collection app with Sapelli – Julia Altenbuchner

8 Mar

  • Lecture: Evaluation of citizen science activities – types and approaches – Cindy Regalado
  • Lecture: Tools and methods of evaluation and demonstration on projects – Cindy Regalado
  • Practical: Developing an evaluation framework and plan for a project – Cindy Regalado

15 Mar

  • Lecture: Policy and organisational aspects of citizen science – Muki Haklay
  • Lecture: Understanding terminologies and definitions of citizen science – Muki Haklay
  • Practical: Data collection with Sapelli and evaluation of results – Julia Altenbuchner

22 Mar

  • Lecture: Theoretical frameworks for citizen science – from Actor-Network Theory to Post-Normal Science – Christian Nold
  • Lecture: Science and society framing of citizen science – from Alan Irwin to Responsible Research and Innovation – Muki Haklay
  • Practical: Using iNaturalist or iSpot to collect data in the wild, and preparation to City Nature Challenge 2018 – Muki Haklay


Part of the reason that we can open the course is through the support of UCL Geography department, with additional support from the following bodies:
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) project “OPENER: Scoping out a national cOmmunity of Practice for public ENgagement with Environmental Research” (NE/R012067/1)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) projects “Extreme Citizen Science” (EP/I025278/1) and “Challenging RISK: Achieving Resilience by Integrating Societal and Technical Knowledge” (EP/K022377/1)
EU Horizon 2020 projects “Doing It Together science (DITOs)” (Project ID 709443) and “WeGovNow” (Project ID 693514).
European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant “Extreme Citizen Science: Analysis and Visualisation” (Project ID 694767)
Alice Sheppard

Community Manager – UCL Extreme Citizen Science Department