For the past six months or so I’ve been roaming around with my colleagues Al and Steph, talking to people about the Digital Action Plan: skills development for digital engagement and social media. It’s our antidote to traditional classroom and e-learning, and an opportunity for us to get under the bonnet of digital skills in any team* – customer service, senior management, communications or policy.

A blended approach of workshops, conversations, 121 support and online goals and support is a tricky balance to get right. Too much emphasis on the platform and we risk this becoming pure e-learning. Too much workshopping and participants won’t have the time to try things out for themselves.

Right now, I feel like we are close to getting the balance right (and it needs to vary a little anyway, depending on the needs of participants).

What have we learnt and observed so far?

1. We can’t solve basic IT problems in the organisations we serve (but we can use DAP as part of a push for changes)

2. The Action Plan helps to create a baseline of digital knowledge in teams, and encourages more experienced participants to be confident, or think of different approaches to tackling problems

3. It needs time and commitment from each participant, little and often

4. We need to make sure participants are only spending half their time on the platform, and the other half on the rest of the web – trying new things, reading, testing, experimenting

5. Patrons are really important. People who work alongside participants, who can nudge, cajole and enthuse as required.

*6. The most successful cohorts are those made up of volunteers, because they contribute and share their experiences as they go along

7. The sizzle is just as important as the steak. People enjoy an inspiring, structured event to kick off their learning

8. We need to listen to the needs of individuals, and not assume too much just because we think we know the organisation or the people who work there

9. When we see people connect with us online, or try something differently it is incredibly rewarding

10. Sometimes we see nothing at all, often because people feel they should be too busy to spend time on their own development. That can be debilitating. See 6 (above)

We still have a lot to learn, but this is the making of a good formula and we’re already starting to see exciting results.