Research digital skills training 2021
Development of an online Community Engagement Platform (CEP) to facilitate out-facing collaborative research
Yvette Wharton, Laura Armstrong, Centre for eResearch
The Centre for eResearch – CeR, in exploring available online open-source Community Engagement Platforms – CEP, in order to support a virtual Community of Practice that expands reach and allows for collaboration, planning and dissemination of research outcomes.
The proposal aims to empower communities by providing them accessible opportunities to learn about, and contribute to, the decisions that affect their daily lives. The platform will stimulate participatory interactions where dialogue between researchers and stakeholders can be facilitated in order to foster a deeper community engagement and lead to better results. The Original scope was to focus on a platform that can connect with the medical services providers across New Zealand. During the course of assessment, CeR has engaged with few other potential interested researchers in community engagement system. It has become clear that an enterprise solution with a shared system would be more efficient and sustainable for long-term growth, and avoid building a one-off short-term solution. Hence, CeR is developing a proposal of such a platform for the wider university, so that various community focused research groups can participate and share the resource. Our objectives for CEP are:
- provide an assessment report to the University,
- select and implement the most appropriate CEP to enable real time, meaningful connections with community stakeholders.
- The experience gained and lessons learned from this project can then be served to improve their own community engagement.
There is a plethora of open source tools supporting individual functionalities, such as surveys, polling, discussion forums, blogs, etc. However, none of them provide a comprehensive range of supports in a single platform as envisaged in CEP platform. There have been a series of discussions held with researchers and their stakeholders to determine key priorities of product requirements. CeR have also assessed and tested a dozen of these tools, and shortlisted several options. A number of “users’ stories formulation workshops” were conducted.
In order to meet the high-level requirements, we decided to pursue a pilot trial with the Engagement HQ – a robust online public engagement software that gets more people to participate in conversations – for a single project license. The tool can segment projects by topics, and/or stakeholder groups, with a range of feedback tools and access options to support the objectives of each project within a broader program of work. Representation across stakeholders can be setup and reviewed using the registration process. CeR is currently working with the University Solutions Architects and Connect on the possibility of providing this platform as a university-wide solution.