In 2009, Ripple Effect (formerly Headshift) was engaged by the Gov2.0 Taskforce to develop a series of practical resources to provide guidance for government agencies using Web 2.0 tools and provided a recommendation for a toolkit of Web 2.0 (social) technologies that agencies can use based on principles of shared services and re-use.
Our research and stakeholder engagement showed that many government agencies were already trying, in one form or another, to engage online, using a diverse range of social tools. Guided by this research as well as other channels Ripple Effect developed twenty-seven use cases for online engagement, and concluded that people in government have a range of practical questions about the tools they need, the roles people play and the skills that must be developed and encouraged.
Australian Law Reform Commission – Research Inquiry Community
As part of the Gov2.0 Taskforce engagement, an accompanying pilot project was conducted with the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC). The ALRC had been identified as an agency that had pioneered methods to achieve open and consultative processes and provided an opportunity to demonstrate the online engagement strategies in practice.
The Family Violence Consultation pilot was a closed online community that enabled frank and open discussion, in a secure environment, between a specific group of stakeholders spread across Australia. The ALRC identified a number of key issues from their existing research and invited participants from the Women’s Legal Services to discuss and provide their opinions. The closed research community enabled:
- The researchers to communicate with participants in a secure environment where opinions could be openly shared without fear of scrutiny;
- Participants time to contemplate their responses in a way that face-to-face forums did not permit;
- Engagement between participants, by reviewing and commenting on others posts, not achievable in face-to-face forums;
- Participants to extend the research topics beyond the initial focus, where their experiences indicated a broader scope to the issue; and
- Participants to submit responses at a time that was convenient for them.
The outcomes from the research community provided the ALRC researchers with a quality of response that illustrated some of the points of law through the experiences of practitioners with direct contact with the issues. The responses were used to inform the ALRC’s submission.
Ripple Effect (formerly Headshift) built the online community with Elgg, a free open-source platform, with light customisation to provide topic differentiation and ease of engagement. In addition, we guided the ALRC researchers with online moderation techniques, including how to craft questions to elicit the style of response being sought.