Online course – Introduction to Citizen Science and Scientific Crowdsourcing

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!)

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 is 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. For example, you will be able to follow the lectures online all the slides and the audio is available on UCLeXtend. 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 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. We will dedicate some effort to support our distance learners and you will be able to interact with the students who take the class at UCL as you will be using the same material and system that they use.

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. Finally, the “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:

Date Content 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 Papadopoulos
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 Papadopoulos
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 Papadopoulos
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 Papadopoulos
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)


10 thoughts on “Online course – Introduction to Citizen Science and Scientific Crowdsourcing

    1. No, we will not provide a completion certification – as I mentioned, this course is part of the MSc programmes in the Department of Geography at UCL, and you are very welcomed to join them if you want to get the credentials that come with that. We are opening up the course to allow people to join in, but without any assessed work or credit for the course.


  1. Hi Muki, the open course is an excellent present for me to the new year. Hope i’ll have the time to watch and follow you. Good lick with the new adventure.


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