Government 2.0 class – students commenting on their own learning process

I am teaching PPA730 Government 2.0 for the fourth year with the challenge that the topic is truly a moving target. The course schedule organically evolves each semester – basically in parallel to the developments in the public sector. Four or five times throughout the semester guest speakers from government organizations join us to talk about their experiences either with specific tools or sharing their insights about their local implementation and then management processes. The first two guest speakers this semester were Rachel Flagg, GSA –, and Bill Greeves, CIO Roanoake County and my co-author of the forthcoming “Social Media Fieldguide”.

One of my current students wrote up a fantastic blog post over on our class blog and I would like to share her insights and her own learning process here:

Social Media – INEVITABLE ? So jump right in and ride the wave!!?

Our objective in this class is to understand how social media can be successfully used, especially in government and non-profits. An important aspect for me in being able to do this is to find a way to believe that this can indeed be accomplished given my limited experience, skepticism and a weariness regarding information overload. For me, what I was looking for was an overriding value statement and/or mindset that would set me on the path with a positive outlook. The 2 guest speakers we have had in class have helped make this happen.  Rachel Flagg of GSA and her amazing websiteHowTo.Gov  provided much information about the specifics of how to implement social media applications in Government. In addition, she answered one of our questions about how you deal with all the details, the instability, the beta factor, barriers, constraints with the advice to “just jump in”. Don’t let the uncertainties hold you back – have faith that you will make it work and “go for it”.  I plan to take this advice.  I watched the way young people were using all these tools all the time and simultaneously. They were crowdsourcing their decisions, making deals and creating networks at a breathtaking seemingly effortless pace. I started seeing ‘join us onFacebook,  ‘join us on Twitter’  everywhere online and in print media. Bill Greeves , the IT Director of Roanoke County , Virginia commented on the inevitability of the use of social media to become a dominant force in our communications both inside and outside government. “Inevitable” is defined as “impossible to avoid or prevent” and that sums up how I was feeling. His obvious determination and careful planning to harness the coming surge and, in fact, become a pioneer in the embracing of this technology was inspiring. So, thanks to Rachel and Bill, my resolve has been strengthened and I will adopt a surfing metaphor – “ride the wave” and if you “wipe-out”, get back on and wait for the next one.




2 thoughts on “Government 2.0 class – students commenting on their own learning process”

  1. Ms. Mergel –

    I found this post very interesting and it hits very close to home for me. I too am a student completing a program in Public Administration and I wish that my college offered a class that dealt with more about this particular issue, as I feel it is going to be an imperative point of education for the new Public Administrators of today.

    Your student’s personal insight into the overwhelming feeling that some people encounter, when dealing with social media and it’s effects on everything that society is involved with today, were very interesting and highlighted the need for Public Administrators to be well versed in whatever way they need to be in order to get to the public.

    As, the comment your student provided pointed out, everywhere you turn today there are ways to join the collective on any manner of issues. Twitter alone can reach numerous people and groups with a simple 140 character tweet. And as we have seen in many media stories, not knowing what you are dealing in and with, can cost a very large price. Knowing what social media is and what it can do is, in my opinion, going to be a fundamental core skill for Public Administrators, just as print and then radio, then television, then the internet and so on and so forth.

    It is essential to keep up with the public to ensure you, the Public Administrator, has the best course of action planned to get information and services to the public in a way that they are comfortable receiving them.

    Thank you so much for this interesting in site into Public Administration, and an interesting class to propose to my school for future Public Administration students.

    Leah J. Cleveland

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