Subliminal consultation

Consultation is something government puts huge amounts of effort into, without (often? ever?) getting it right. The latest major attempt, to encourage discussion around the Draft Legislative Programme, takes you to a five-question web form with questions so vague and high-level, couched in parliamentary language, that I wouldn’t know where to start. Will we improve on last year’s embarrassing 71 responses, many of which had ‘little, if any, relevance’? I’m not convinced.
So full marks (unexpectedly?!) to DCSF for trying something quite different. Playspace is intended to canvas the opinions of younger children about playgrounds. It presents itself as a kind of Sim City affair, letting you drag play equipment into an empty space to create your own playground. But the clever bit is that you’re actually spending ‘credits’ to choose the equipment, and you earn extra credits by answering questions.
It’s consultation for the attention-deficit generation: a handful of questions, with the reward of play after. A dozen multi-choice questions, and you’re done. Meanwhile, behind the scenes – I assume – it’s capturing the answers to the questions, as well as an indication of what types of equipment kids actually prefer.
It’s not without its problems. Like, for example, spelling DCSF wrong; and failing to link to its privacy statement, which is pretty essential for what must be a data-capture process behind the scenes. (Thankfully these glitches have now been fixed after I raised them… although I’m not convinced the site’s generic privacy statement goes quite as far as I’d like for this application.) But it shows a willingness to explore more effective means of sounding out public opinion… and I bet it results in a much richer collection of real data then any ‘normal’ consultation process.
It’s good to see an e-comms good news story coming out of DCSF’s e-efforts. You don’t have to dig too deeply into their website to find crushing legacy problems dating back a decade. And that’s before we even mention Schoolsweb.

3 thoughts on “Subliminal consultation”

  1. Playspace is cool. I dread to think how much it cost them, but I’m happy they are trying things like this. I’ve sent it on to the teachers in my family to get them to circulate the link where they work.

  2. Small point, but it would be nice if DCSF allowed you to turn the music off without lowering your computer’s volume, in case the child is watching a DVD or listening to music in this age of multi tasking.
    It is a great idea though, and although I’m not the target audience I enjoed a quick go.
    Let’s hope this is expanded in the future. Maybe people could redesign their town centre, for example.

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