good digital things from scotland

In a guest editor post we're taking a look at some good public sector digital communications from Scotland. You'll be surprised what you'll find if you look.

by Leah Lockhart 

There are amazing things going on in Scotland’s public sector when it comes to digital communication and engagement but you might not know it.

We’re not as well organized collectively as our peers down south and we don’t really like to shout about the good work we do.

But I’d like to see that change and I want to raise awareness of some really cool stuff happening in Scotland. Here is a mere smattering of innovative, creative and useful work from Scottish public sector people with moxie. 

Scottish Government Library blog and 10 Things programme

By bringing together people, communities, resources and encouraging digital and information literacy, we all know libraries are the center of the universe. Scottish Government library’s 10 Things programme, accessed through their public facing blog, has helped nearly 500 people learn basic social media skills in the space of a year. 10 Things, a spin off of 23 Things started in libraries based in North Carolina, is a ten week collaborative learning experience set in Yammer groups. Initially only open to Scottish Government employees, the library now offers 10 Things to anyone in Scotland’s public sector. The popularity of the programme among the wider workforce has meant the library has recently doubled spaces in each ten week block from 50 to 100 participants. There is clearly a demand for supported learning for social media skills for staff and Scottish Government library- with no extra resource- is doing all it can to go beyond policy rhetoric around digital literacy and making change through doing and casting a wide communication net. And the excitement is spreading- one 10 Things participant has taken the model into her school district.


ayrshirehealth blog

A WordPress blog created by Associate Nurse Director Derek Barron in 2012, ayrshirehealth is blowing up the spot with a steady flow of guest bloggers and impressive viewing figures and interaction levels. Derek wanted to create a place where healthcare practitioners could engage actively and safely online to share knowledge and experience. He started small by reaching out to about a dozen colleagues on Twitter to ask if they’d like to blog and now he’s got NHS Chief Execs blogging alongside frontline staff. Aside from facilitating knowledge sharing, the reach and impact of the blog has been great: the ayrshirehealth model is now being used by Dumfries and Galloway NHS and Derek is being asked to deliver Twitter training sessions to colleagues. Maintaining the blog, associated Twitter account and helping others learn about engaging online are things Derek does outwith his remit and has only recently won a victory in getting IT security to unblock access to the ayrshirehealth blog for staff access from work.


Digital Commonwealth

The Commonwealth Games created a huge amount of excitement in Scotland and Digital Commonwealth, a partnership between University of the West of Scotland, Big Lottery and Media Trust, helped citizens learn how to create their own narratives abound the games by using digital tools and platforms. Ahead of the games, Digital Commonwealth delivered an enormous programme of teaching digital media and storytelling skills in schools and communities and set up #citizen2014 as an active citizen journalism platform during the games. It is a fantastic project highlighting the fact that mainstream media doesn’t own the messages around a global event that impacts so many citizens and so many communities.


Open Data Scotland

Helping councils open up data and creating new digital services that will be open to copy and scale is at the heart of NESTA’s Open Data Scotland project. Four Scottish councils- Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Clackmannanshire and East Lothian- have stepped up to the plate to take part in Open Data Scotland which is associated with the wider Code for Europe scheme. Each council has dedicated developer support and the developers have dedicated design support to liberate data and build and design cool stuff on the back of it. Using data to create services and to engage with citizens is the future and it’s going to be exciting to see what comes out of the programme this winter.


Information and Records Management Society (IRMS) podcast series

The IRMS podcasts are co-presented by Scottish information and records management superstar Heather Jack. This podcast series is so good it’s up for an award recognizing it as one of the best resources in the Information Governance industry. Podcasts are an enormously powerful and accessible communication tool, cheap to create and disseminate and bring to life things that can be difficult to understand or contextualise. Information and records management is extremely interesting (I’ve even gone so far as to call it sexy) and important but an unfortunately misunderstood topic over the public sector. Start with hearing the story of how Scotland’s Public Records Act came to be and what it means for organisations now and I promise the penny will drop for you.

Leah Lockhart helps people in the public and third sectors learn how to use social media for learning, development and engagement. She’s currently project evangelist for Scottish Government-backed mental health technology startup project Ginsberg

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