The Sustainable Online Community Engagement (SOCE) program is a joint initiative of the State Government of South Australia, Office for Volunteers and the School of Communication, International Studies and Languages at the University of South Australia. The program was established in 2001 and since that time more than 400 South Australian community groups and 650 students have participated in the program. The program has won awards such as the Chancellor's Award for Community Service in 2001, High Commendation 2008 Chancellor's Award for Community Engagement and was a major award winner in the Building Communities category of the Premier’s Public Sector Engagement Awards in November 2009.
The SOCE program involves a process of recruiting volunteer organisations that require a website, online or print publications or film and television production services and matching the organisations with students undertaking nominated courses offered within the School of Communication, International Studies and Languages. The students work with their allocated community group throughout the semester. Ongoing support to community groups is provided online by a project officer with funding support from the South Australian Government, Office for Volunteers. Face-to-face training is provided by the project officer and contract staff to ensure that community groups are able to maintain and develop their websites after the student(s) have exited the relationship.
The program is evaluated with community groups and students undertaking anonymous online surveys addressing client and student satisfaction and identifying areas for improvement at regular intervals. The websites developed have also been reviewed over time to determine the level of engagement of the community groups with their sites once created. One of the significant concerns arising from the findings of these evaluations has been the identified need for a more ‘user-friendly’ means by which the community groups can maintain their sites after handover. With developments in Web 2.0 technologies since 2005, more recent changes in the program have aimed to harness the use of content management systems to provide a more sustainable environment for the participating communities.
We welcome any enquiries from interested community organisations or groups representing the needs of networks of community groups which might benefit from the services offered through this innovative program.
For further information please contact us