Way back at the beginning of summer I blogged about my first experience of the Networked Councillor programme. This is a programme designed to give elected members the tools they need to effectively communicate, collaborate and co-produce with their communities in the digital world. When I joined the company, Networked Councillor was being delivered to the first of its pilot areas and these are now approaching their final stages. This blog post outlines some of the learning from these pilots so far, which we hope will make the Networked Councillor programme even better.
Each of the pilot areas has been very different in character. Some of the programmes were made up of delegates from single authorities, some were from a number of different authorities. This has meant that each of the pilots has presented its own learning points. For example in some places it was clear that delegates’ skills varied quite substantially before the programme started. Some members were already fluent in the language of Twitter and blogs, and others were complete beginners. This meant that there was a degree of difficulty in keeping everyone together in workshops. As such, we have decided that before starting the workshops, we’re going to hold a skills master class to get everyone up to speed with the basics of social media.
We’ve also looked at the support officer function of the programme. This has worked really well in some cases; with members and officers working closely together. In other cases it’s been difficult for participants to find time in their diaries to get together, and this is even more so in areas which are geographically wide. So Daniel Herrera, our learning and development manager, has been working with members alongside the support officers to provide an extra layer of support and to ensure that the aims of each sprint are being met.
It has been tricky to ensure consistent attendance at the workshops. This is perhaps an inevitable consequence of trying to get fifteen busy councillors in the same place at the same time on four separate occasions. To try to remedy this, we have created some digital assets which can be used as revision or catch up materials for those who are unable to attend. We hope that this will encourage participants to continue with the programme and ensure that no one is left behind.
On the whole we think that the pilots we have run so far have been a great success. We’re yet to have any formal feedback as the final workshops aren’t happening for a few more weeks, but anecdotally we are really pleased with how things have gone. We have seen some really fantastic examples; both beginners starting to build their social media profiles, and more experienced users changing the way they work with social media to communicate with their communities. Our final pilot in Solihull will be starting shortly, and we hope that the learning from the other programmes will make this really fantastic.