Most Knowledge Hub groups could be classified as a community of practice of some sort, in the sense that they don’t have a specific end goal, but the group is there to
support its members on progressing in a particular area. Members often have a similar role and/or interest in the topic, and join voluntarily and contribute as and when they need to.
Richard Overy, Shropshire Council, facilitates the Information Graphics and Visualisation group and became a facilitator to learn new things and make new connections. The group is for anyone, no matter what they’re service area is, who uses pictures, graphics and other visuals to communicate information. It has a broad topic and Richard wrote a number of blogs to reach other groups and members.
2. Project groups
Groups set up for project teams can either be a one-off project with a specified start and end date, or a rolling programme of project-based work where the group is reused, perhaps on an annual or 6-monthly basis. Socitm’s Better Connected project team is responsible for carrying out evidence-based research to identify good practice in website development for local authorities. The ‘Better Connected’ team use their restricted group annually as a place to share feedback on research tasks, discuss survey results and agree project outputs.
3. Working/steering groups
A number of Knowledge Hub groups are set up specifically for a group of people who have committed themselves to a working or steering group. These groups range in membership from as little as 10 or less members to larger groups of 30 or more. Most of these groups will have a start and end date, and put together a terms of reference.
David Pickering, trading standards team leader at Buckinghamshire County Council, facilitates the Food Standards and Labelling Group and the Food Standards and Labelling Focus Group. The focus group, made up of 39 members, is used as a vehicle to produce guidance and form opinions and help inform the main group of 1200 plus members. They gather and discuss unresolved issues raised in the main group to provide advice quickly.
4. Recruitment campaigns
The Local Government Association’s (LGA) National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP) uses several Knowledge Hub groups to inform and recruit graduates throughout the programme. The security of the Knowledge Hub group is one of the programme’s selling points because it provides a safe and trusted place for the graduates to share best practice and talk to each confidentially.
The groups allow the graduates to maintain communications in between face-to-face meetings, in addition to posting presentation slides, completing homework and assignments, participating in webinars, obtaining links to useful materials and finding out about upcoming events.
5. Training programme
The College of Policing and National College for Teaching and Leadership have set up groups to support the training courses and modules. These groups are restricted for course participants and facilitators to share course documentation, training materials and other useful resources. The wiki and forum also provide a useful space to record learning and feedback.
6. Peer reviews and challenges
The Local Government Association (LGA) offer local authorities improvement support via peer reviews and challenges. These groups are set up as private groups to provide the peer teams involved a quick and confidential way to access and share documentation and evidence in preparation for the peer review or challenge. These groups will have a defined start and end date, and will be closed down at the end of the process.
7. Discussion forum
The Planning Advisory Service (PAS) group offers its 2000 plus members a place to share and learn from each other. The group uses the forum feature only to discuss regulations, issues, and seek advice.
Rebecca Staddon,Taunton Deane Borough Council, joined the PAS group when she first became a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Officer. She uses it to pick the brains of people who have had involvement in CIL and have greater knowledge and understanding of it.