Tuesday, January 17, 2012
GSA will be offering a 12-week social media training course for government employees starting February 7.

Starting February 7, I’ll be leading a12-week social media in government course that aims to help new and aspiring social media practitioners understand the strategy and tools that will help the succeed in their roles. The class is being offered through the General Services Administration's (GSA) Web Manager University.



Each session will last one and half hours and will be divided into three parts: a class discussion of an assigned reading, a presentation by a guest lecturer, and hands-on training on some type of social media tool or practice.

GovLoop will be providing the technical backbone and I fully expect that much of what is discussed in class will be presented in blog posts for the larger community to discuss.


The readings cover four topics: communities; information; moving from information to action; and the capacities and limitations of social media within government.

To help understand how and why communities form, and the impact that our communities have on us, the class will chapters from Bowling Alone and Connected.

The books The Shallows and True Enough will focus attention on how information is traded online, and how more information does not always elevate (or alleviate) debate.

To show how social media practitioners can move from online to offline action, the class will be discussing portions of Cognitive Surplus and Reality is Broken.

Finally, I’ve selected five books that together outline the capacities and show the contours of the limitations of social media within government: 



Guest Lecturers

The guest lecturers come from many backgrounds: government, private-sector, academe, and nonprofit. Confirmed guests include:

Lovisa Williams, Social Media Sub-Council Co-chair, State Department Social Media SME. Addressing the first class, Ms. Williams will talk about her role in spearheading social media activities at the State Department and using online tools to for community management.

Ines Mergel, Professor, Social Media, Maxwell School. Professor Mergel teaches social media at Syracuse’s Maxwell School. She has written extensively on Twitter and Wiki use in government and has a book forthcoming on social media in the public sector.

Marci Harris, CEO, PopVox. Working on Capitol Hill, Ms. Harris quickly realized a key problem with the public sector: government officials and agencies receive far more communications from their constituents than they can possibly process. She started a company, PopVox, to help citizens participate in their own governance.

Nicole Lazzaro, CEO, XEO Designs. Ms. Lazzaro is serious about fun, and works hard at gaming. At a Tech@State event, she detailed how the same incentive structures present in successful games can be instructive when designing public policy.



Each class session, we’ll examine and use at least one social media tool. A non-comprehensive list includes:

  • Social Networks, like Facebook, GovLoop
  • Information Networks, like Twitter, Quora
  • Blogging Platforms, like Tumblr and Wordpress
  • Wiki Platforms, like DokuWiki or MediaWiki
  • Ideation Platforms, like IdeasWalk, Bubble Ideas, Web Storm, IdeaScale

There are only 20 seats available for the pilot session,so register today.