Draft Ideas for “#PublicInnovation Academy” Courses

Here’s a initial “off-the-top of my head” breakdown of potential courses/topics — in no particular order.

In theory each sub-bullet would a class with 5–6, hour-long lectures/modules with quizzes attached to each module. This should lead to about 30+ courses students can mix and match, with faculty approval, for their certification in a bespoke *program* — eg data architect, digital services designer, etc — or they can just individual courses credits and are welcome to pick and choose.

Sign up for the latest updates and to be part of the discussion moving forward here: publicinnovation.academy

Also there is a hope to partner with institutions with content in these areas already to leverage their expertise and work in building a more comprehensive curriculum. If you represent an organization that would like to discuss partnerships, please let me know: [email protected]

Again all very early thinking but I to build in the open. And I am very open to candid feedback.

Sample Course Topics


  • Visualizations
  • Charting
  • Mapping
  • Standards
  • Databases
  • Publishing Open Data
  • Community building
  • Data science
  • Performance management

Build with, not for users

  • Lean/Agile
  • Human Centered Design & Research
  • Accessibility
  • Content strategy / good writing
  • Partnerships with community groups

The Ecosystem

  • Existing stack
  • Field review

Recruiting & Teamwork

  • Recruitment strategies
  • Cross-functional teams — creating and managing
  • Remote work
  • Collaboration tools: GDocs etc

Social Media / Marketing

  • Social media mastery
  • Listening/sentiment analysis
  • How to be a PIO (PR, push notifications)
  • Boosting app/program engagement
  • Design tools: 99 Designs, stock photos etc


  • Procurement
  • Budget
  • “Building a tribe” — finding likeminded allies
  • Ethics of open data, privacy, AI
  • Inclusivity and anti-racism (unintended or intentional discrimination)

Digital services

  • General overview: why, which, and how
  • Best practices & multi-agency collaboration: interoperability, upsells, engaging form design, and follow ups / surveys
  • Moving up in a digital services team


  • Fiber/connectivity
  • Cloud v on-premise
  • IoT / Sensors

App Primers

  • Excel / Google Sheets
  • Slack
  • Esri / CartoDB / Mapbox
  • PowerPoint
  • Tableau, SAP, and other reporting tools
  • Various online tools (IFTTT, AirTable)


  • Negotiation strategies
  • Translating tech
  • Perfecting the pitch


  • Technology Roadmaps
  • Open Data Policy
  • Economic development for tech
  • Gig economy partnerships (eg car sharing, micro-mobility)

Other activities

  • Mentorship: pairing new folks with experienced civic tech leaders for career planning, networking, and on-the-ground insight into how civic Tech works.
  • Cohorts/classes: Individuals from different government but working on the same team (eg digital services) could be paired up to complete joint assignment, effectively setting mew standards by jurisdiction’s collaborating.
  • In-person deep dive: For governments wanting to engage a broader swath of participation, the academy could arrange on-site training, working hands on with front-line operators.
  • Speakers Series: Monthly host a “fireside chat” with a civic tech leader as an open event, which will serve as a feeder for new students in the academy and enable the students to grow their own networks.
  • From grade book to front page: Establish a respected, thought leadership blog. Student will be able to publish their coursework essays, visualizations etc, giving them stage to connect with a nation audience.