Over on her Citizenize-Citizenise blog, Janice Thomson shared a great post late last week about her experience applying various forms of engagement, online and in person, at a recent training event: Engaging on the Edges: Creative Street and Online Engagement

This week I experimented with various approaches to creative street and online engagement by using the “edges” of a three day face-to-face event: “Leading Engagement: Involving People in the Decisions that Affect Them”. This was the first Art of Hosting experiential training specifically focused on the topic of engagement. It was held in the education center of the Morton Arboretum outside of Chicago and drew a diverse group of around 70 people from the non-profit, corporate, and government sectors.

One set of “edges” I used were physical spaces outside of the main meeting rooms, like hallways and bathrooms. These served as the event’s equivalent of streets and other public spaces. Another set of “edges” were tech tools and social media: online public spaces where people not physically present at the event could also contribute to and/or learn from the event.

She outlines four design principles (part of what makes the post so useful):

  1. Go where people already are and use tech tools they already have.
  2. Make activities short, simple, and self-explanatory.
  3. Consider different learning styles and modes of participation.
  4. Use only existing resources and prepare quickly.

The non-wired approaches ranged from “bean surveys” all the way to “post-it poetry”. On the technology side, she relied on Youtube as a library of free tech tutorials to help explain how the various other tools work and used text messaging to capture group input.

In summary, she points out the great potential for this kind of “engagement on the edges” to reach new and diverse audiences and bring them into the process.

The post mentions a number of tools, all of which can be found on ParticipateDB. I’ve added the article as a reference.