Political parties regularly consult their members to canvas the members’ priorities, interests and expectations on a range of topics. These fora ask questions, and open the floor for additional thoughts and proposals. Parties encourage local associations to host discussions on set topics throughout the year. The results of these discussions are fed into the party’s policy unit. For a recent topic, The Challenge and Opportunities of the Digital Age, we worked with one of these local associations to host the discussion online.

Aim

To gather opinions and foster discussion on the Digital Age, particularly regarding what government’s role should be in promoting opportunities and mitigating harms.

Audience

Primarily members of the local association, but the association was keen to use the internet to overcome physical boundaries and reach out to members in other areas, and non-members too. The majority of the participants would be over 40 years old. It was expected that all would be digitally capable, but none had used the Rhizome Live platform before.

We Provided:

  • A dedicated instance of the Rhizome Live platform
  • Full design and production of the discussion session
  • Technical and facilitation support throughout the live event

What Happened

The association were keen to use a digital medium for their discussion of the Digital Age brief. However, they wanted a hands-off role in designing and producing the session. After consulting with them, we examined the discussion brief to decide on the best approach. The political party provided a list of questions which it was necessary to cover, but free exchange of view was also important. With this brief, we designed and wrote the session to suit an interested audience who were unfamiliar with our platform. It was decided that a one hour session was most appropriate. This allowed time for in-depth discussion of all the questions, but without the risk of it dragging. An hour is also approximately the timeframe for in-person discussions, and so familiar to the participants.

We produced video content in the form of short introductions for each question. The videos included interviews providing a spectrum of views from individuals from different businesses, backgrounds and ages. Several short videos (rather than one longer one) allowed us to signpost different questions more clearly. The conversation could be moved on by releasing the next video as and when required.

The session itself was then facilitated by an association member with our support.

Outcomes

The session was a success. There was rich discussion of the topic, and a range of viewpoints were aired and debated. Some participants continued their discussion after the formal end of the session. Some key outcomes were:

  • Extended reach. Hosting the session online allowed participants outside the local association’s area to join the discussion.
  • Equal voices for participants. Unlike in a room-based discussion, no one voice could dominate the discussion. This meant that a wider range of views were aired and considered.
  • Ease of access. The platform was intuitive to use. Joining the discussion online saved travel time and expense, and prevented anyone getting caught in the rain!
Participant

It’s been very interesting… This forum allows everyone the same opportunity to comment; meetings in person can sometimes get dominated by a few

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Lizzie Evans - Learning Consultant, Rhizome Live

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