Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

WOW! :) I’ve been away for a week (hence the quiet) and it’s all been happening! Firstly welcome to Dave Petrie an Advanced Practitioner from Essex who has started his own blog. It’s great to have someone else to share this journey with:)  Having decided before going on leave to be more transparent DK wrote a bit about this blog on the Mediasnackers report and the word is now out! Thanks DK and sorry to have disrupted your campaign!:(

I’m really hopeful of developing a network and online youth work community and have started to discover sites and forums that I didn’t know existed before through following others links. For example through tracking some of the referrers to here I discovered this youth worker forum where some good discussions are being had.

Anyways, the thought of an online community got me to thinking about the on the ground community of youth workers and how we share (or don’t!) our experiences face to face. I know that I occassionally get the chance to meet others doing a similar role to mine at conferences or other events but not very often. (And that’s usually expensive unless they are the free NYA events). The Association of Principal Youth Officers provides this sort of forum for Heads of Service (diversfying the roles to fit in with current changes) and is just looking to expand its membership to include local authority youth work managers with operational responsibility for the delivery of youth work. However what about other colleagues? And the voluntary sector?

We have County Staff meetings regularly throughout the year and a staff conference once a year so that all staff can get together and get the opportunity to discuss policy, practice and experiences however this is internal to West Sussex. There are the more specific conferences around Rural or Detached Youth Work but other than that colleagues rarely get the chance to talk and share with people from other authorities. How about others? Is there some sort of forum out there on the ground that I don’t know about? Is the Online Community ahead of the terra firma community?

And now I need to sign off to contemplate this and other pressing matters such as Service Level Agreements etc. Thanks for reading!

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Comments on: "Online Youth Work Community" (7)

  1. Very topical this for me and I think also for a few others I’ve met with recently.

    First thing I’d like to get off my chest though is the ridiculous fees for ‘conferences’. Hundreds of pounds just for a day in some cases! And this in a sector where funding is critical. I wouldn’t mind so much if I’d ever come away from any of these events in anyway inspired – instead I see the same old “keynote” speakers largely preaching to the converted!

    Partly in my frustration at these events we did organise our own event last October. It was targeted particularly at those in the youth participation sector but the idea was that if you came prepared to contribute a workshop you came for free – if not you paid (a very reasonable fee inclusive of food & accommodation!)

    What we were really trying to create was that at all those expensive events I’ve attended I hear the same comments that the really useful stuff happens at break times when people mix & chat – so our attempt was to facilitate this kind of atmosphere throughout the whole event. It worked well and we got a lot of good feedback but unfortunately I haven’t yet had the time to plan another.

    For the online/offline community thing I think an online community for the youth work world will work best where theres also an offline community – so some attempt to provide opportunities for people to come together informally and ‘network’ (chat) and then follow this up with an online space to expand on conversations, share ideas & so on. This would also work very well with linking up blogs, websites & forums.

    I’ve met with various people about getting something along these lines going but so far none of us has had the time/resources to commit, but I’m sure with a bit more interest something can happen.

  2. As far as I can tell the online community is still lagging behind in informal education. If it is there… it’s pretty hard to find.

    But with so many community development professionals around it shouldn’t be impossible to develop…

    I’m going to be talking to the Regional Youth Work Units at their gathering at the NYA today to see if we can pursuade a few to join the now growing blogging community (hope you don’t mind me showing your blog?) – and I recon with a few more people active we’ll start the flow of information that supports more in-person gatherings and creates the virtuous circle of reflective community and networks…

    At least… that’s the vision…

  3. The irony is that about 11 or 12 years ago there used to be a huge website with all sorts of youth organisations signed up and details of how to contact them (pre blogging and web 2.0!). I can’t remember what it was called now but it was still up & running until about 2001 – I think it became integrated with Youth Clubs UK (now UK Youth) but then soon after the bloke that had been running it got a new job and after a few months with a (‘this site is being developed notice’ it finally closed down).

    Another site I used to spend time on and that I recently found again is here: http://www.infed.org/
    but if you click on their forum theres very little activity.

    I think one of the problems is that there needs to be a cultural shift in how people approach their work – a shift towards people sharing, supporting & collaborating (beyond their locality). One thing we did find interesting from the event I mentioned in the last comment was that the majority of people that did contribute to the event didn’t do so from the perspective of sharing ideas – they did so to self promote – almost competing about how important their work/organisation was. I see echo’s of this in some of what little online debates there are – up on the CYPNow forums theres very little exchange of ideas/info – its mostly opinions and reactions. (Maybe all this stems from the competition for funding?)

    Its good to see on Dave Petrie’s blog that he’s putting ideas & experiences out in the open – more of that please! :-)

    From that first website I mention I think its also worth recognising that it did work really well for a number of years and while it was working what it had was a ‘dedicated champion’ – we could do with finding another!

  4. billybean said:

    I’d be interested in finding out more about what’s out there offline Tim for generic youthwork staff without specific specialisms as I’d like to encourage colleagues to get involved. (So any pointers would be great!)

    The NYA meeting sounds great and I’m fine about you showing this if it’s of any help. Good luck in encouraging more bloggers!

    I like your idea Mike of using the online facility to expand conversations and develop ideas….and your event last year sounds like it would have been really beneficial. More of these opportunities would be very useful, I guess a bit like the BarCamp idea if my understanding of this is correct. I’m also still looking at how we can maximise this sort of working within the youth service here so that it starts to role model the use and opportunities for supporting our work using IT.

  5. yep very much along the barcamp ethos – I’d like to see much more of this and not only for the technology agenda.

    The idea is to set a ‘subject’ or ‘focus’ and then to invite people to come and contribute to it and to do so in a fairly informal way. It should be relatively easy for the youth sector to do this as they already have venues available to use. One of the discussions I had with Tim (and Sarah Schulman) was that this could create some kind of offline network and then link to that to having an online network too.

    I imagine that if a member of staff decided not to attend one of the big ‘corporate’ type conferences they would save circa £300 (on attendance fee alone). If you had 10 organisations involved with each acting as host once, and you met bi-monthly – that £300 would probably cover the travel for the 2 years meet ups! During which people would travel around to different venues, meet different people and share ideas on 10 different subjects/issues – and this is using conservative estimates – clearly theres potential to scale.

  6. billybean said:

    Definately! I like the thinking, just need to see if we can possibley get something like that started here. We could probably host without too much problem so it would be seeing what other organisations / people would be interested. I’ll mull it over mean while if there are any suggestions please keep firing them away.

  7. hey check this event,anyone want to know about international culture and have their show than this event is the gr8 opportunity.
    “INTERNTAIONAL YOUTH CULTURAL INTERACTION PROGRAM 2008′,KATHMANDU,NEPAL

    this is an ggod vent to know the youth involvement in culture and cultural tourism.

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