Social Tools for Bio: Community of Practice

The Social Tools for Bio Community of Practice connects instructors of biological sciences courses from California Community Colleges, California State Universities, and the University of California campuses.  Community members work together to develop collaborative activities to teach challenging concepts to undergraduate students.  

Community of Practice Sessions focus on developing activities, through learning and using:

  • Tools for teaching including the 5E (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate) Framework and Understanding by Design (Backwards Design)
  • Design-based research, Biology education research, and formative assessment of student learning, using reflection and iteration
  • Activity flow, student collaboration models, accessibility, and equity for online learning

Program Components 

The Social Tools for Bio: Community of Practice spans two semesters or three quarters, meeting approximately every other week for ~ 2 hours ( 8 sessions / semester;  5 sessions / quarter) on Zoom in fall and spring semesters.  We will have an in-person kickoff meeting at UC Berkeley and a digital poster session at the end of each semester. The program is two-semesters long and each participant receives $2000 upon completion of the program.

Session Schedule

The first half of the program will meet for the following sessions:

  • In-person (or hybrid) kick-off meeting on Sat Aug 26, 2023 (10am-3pm) in Berkeley
  • Sep 4-8 : Module 1 – Design tools for Teaching
  • Sep 11-15: Small Team Meeting 1
  • Sep 25-29: Module 2 – Assessment Framework & Design-based Research
  • Oct 2-6: Small Team Meeting 2
  • Oct 16-20: Module 3 – Activity flow & Social Interaction
  • Small Team Meeting 3 – Individual group meeting with a pair of Team members during one of the following weeks
    • Oct 23- Oct 27: One-on-one meetings with a pair of team members 
    • Oct 30-Nov 3: One-on-one meetings with a pair of team members
  • Nov  6-10*: Module 4 – Reflection & Iteration
    • If cohort falls on a Friday we will meet 11/3
  • Nov 13-Nov 17: Small Team Meeting 4
  • Saturday, Dec 2nd, 10am-1pm: Mid-program community and share session on Zoom

Cohort Scheduling

We will schedule sessions of ~8-12 participants that will meet during one of the following times (based on availability of participants and facilitators).  We will notify you of your meeting day of the week and time when you are selected as a participant.

  • Tuesday 10:00-12:00
  • Friday 10:00-12:00

Program Eligibility

Instructors of biological sciences courses* from public higher education institutions (California Community College, California State University, and the University of California) are encouraged to apply.  The cohort will include 24 faculty.  We encourage adjunct instructors who are teaching courses during the program year to apply.  The program focuses on faculty at institutions from within 100 miles of the San Francisco Bay area, but funds are available for faculty from anywhere in the state.  Priority will be for instructors teaching during the program year (instructor of record).  If you have questions about your eligibility, please contact us.   Our program does not include graduate students during this iteration.

*Examples:  General or introductory biology, ecology courses, allied health, anatomy and physiology, cell biology, environmental sciences courses, etc.

Interest Form & Application

To apply for the Social Tools for Bio Community of Practice, please complete the Application form linked below by July 15, 2023 for priority consideration.  Applicants are welcome to request a consultation with the Social Tools for Bio team to discuss the program prior to submitting their application. To request a meeting, email

Ready to apply? Use the…

  • Application form if you’re ready to apply for our Fall 2023 Cohort (Runs Aug-Dec 2023, Jan-May 2024)