Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

 Courtesy of 10ch

Thanks to 10ch

I find it interesting to see how, when discussing social media with others, the almost immediate desire is to use Facebook or Bebo or other Social Networking sites (SNS) to do youth work (or at least support their work). When you look at this in more detail it is mainly because this is a forum that colleagues have heard and know a bit about. Digging even deeper many colleagues aren’t necesarily too sure what they will do with it and how this might expand their youth work.  Mike Amos Simpson picked this up when feeding back about the UKYouthOnline Unconference and made some interesting comments here about youth workers obsession with SNS and limiting ourselves by just focusing on these aspects and not thinking widely enough about how we might maximise the potential of the web and technology. It’s also picked up on the comments section of his post here.

Whilst I’m interested in how we might use SNS in youth work I think you will probably have picked up that I am more excited by how we might use social media in it’s wholeness to support, develop and create the ways in which we work with young people. Mike’s idea of Digital Youth Work is an example of that.

I guess this is why I started out in blogging and then used my understanding of the possibilities with this to encourage some colleagues to try it and look at how they can incorporate blogging as a tool to support various areas of youth work (including recorded and accredited outcomes!). Through my journeys around the blogosphere and the internet in general I come across many examples of how over in the formal education sector so many of our colleagues are / have already been exploring this area. I have been following the Education and Curriculum Masters course for teachers run by Dr. Alec Couros, a professor of educational technology and media at the Faculty of Education, University of Regina . This course encourages teachers to explore and blog about what they are learning with regards to digital media and how it can support teaching in the classroom. I would love to see something like this for youth workers in training (or perhaps there already is and I just don’t know it!).

A few of the other education blogs concerning new technology and its application that I follow are:-

Mr Mayo who is middle school Language Arts teacher in Maryland

Vicki Davis who has been involved in the flatclassroom project and digiteen

The Edublogger

Perhaps if we set up some sort of project to work on online, or share info we could do some more discussion / learning online. Again, in the education sector there are various online forums where educators get together to talk about a subject at a given time and date. Maybe if there is enough interest this is something we could try. (I’d have to get up to speed with Skype and Twitter I feel but I’d give it a go if it meant we moved the ‘community’ forward.) What do you think?

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Comments on: "Expanding the potential of social media" (5)

  1. Hi Hilary – really good to get your thoughts, all of which I’d echo.

    The good news is that I’m finally making some progress with the Digital Youth programme. I’m tied up with other work until May but I’m not too far from completing the site which will provide the framework for further development of some actual programmes and activity ideas (which will obviously take longer but be much easier once the space is set up).

    I’m trying to take inspiration from the formal education sector too where there seems to be plenty of innovation going on albeit not so much of what I’ve seen so far transfers over to informal education so well (but thats most likely because I haven’t had time yet to immerse myself into it rather than it not being there).

    Theres some useful stuff in your post to feed into ideas for the development of the UKYouthOnline network too. My own thoughts about that are that it would be good to try and develop a network that appeals to anyone interested in the use of the web to support informal education (ie. a little less exclusive to just the youth work sector) – partly because online participation in the youth work sector is still very low but also because I think it would be very useful to encourage the sharing of ideas between as wide an audience as possible. Obviously there needs to be scope for more specific discussions too but that would happen in any case I expect much as not every discussion on the current network is particularly ‘on-topic’!

    As for your points re. Social Networks I think its really important that we don’t get hung up on particular technologies. They develop so rapidly and the “market” changes so quickly that the critical skills are being able to quickly adapt and to be able to be as flexible as possible – I wonder sometimes if this is something that comes naturally to young people who try things out and use them relatively fluidly, meaning that those supporting them need to be equally flexible and adaptable (which possibly many people struggle with in part because new=scary and partly because organisational structures haven’t yet caught up to allow that kind of flexible approach for staff?).

  2. billybean said:

    Hi Mas

    Thanks for your comments. Your last paragraph really resonates with me as I feel like I am probably not moving quickly enough the times which is more about time than anything else. (Although things like twitter for me I don’t really understand how it all works etc and then feel I don’t have the time to work it out!)

    I had thought about posting on the UKYouthOnline network so I will see if I can move this (or some of it) across.

    Great to hear that the Digital Media project is well underway and I look forward to seeing more!
    All the best
    Hilary

  3. twitter is really interesting like that – so simple yet so confusing to explain! It also needs a time investment to be useful but its definitely something we should really try to encourage more people in the youth work sector to make use of. I know Tim did a guide to it lately so might see if I can build on that and write up some ideas of how it could be used in youth work contexts (soonish!)

  4. Hey Mas, Hilary

    Some great thoughts here.

    Definitely agree we need to be looking widely at Social Media as a whole – not just Social Networking, and particularly, not just Social Network Sites.

    When we did the Youth Work & Social Networking research we narrowed down just to get a manageable research question – but I reckon, if we could find someone to back it, we’re ready to do some really solid broader action research on the whole range of social media in the youth work / informal education sector.

    Time I think for the next Digital Youth Unconference….

    I’ll get a blog post out shortly…

    Tim

  5. Education provides a perfect foil for the youth work sector to learn from – great to see you’re all over it (and Mas)… inspiration usually comes from outside your sector ;-)

    re: SNS – it obviously provides an opportunity to connect with young people, our view has always been “it’s called myspace for a reason” and we prefer to respect that (especially as there are so many other yummy social media tools/platforms to utilise) :-)

    re: feeling left behind/haven’t the time – remember our button theory and click away…

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