Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Using online resources

We’ve just had a great Senior Management awayday where we’ve been looking at how we move towards an Integrated Youth Support and Development Service. We’ve had the opportunity to reflect on our current structures (especially teams, meetings and work groups) to see how they support our vision and delivery. This is the start of a long journey as we are only just beginning to flesh out what the future of the service, it’s management structures and processes might be and we will be discussing these at all levels of the organisation.

What I thought was really interesting was how far we’ve come in our thinking about using online resources, social media etc to enhance and support our own structures as well as how we use them with young people. Since our conference with DK from Mediasnackers we’ve started to think differently and to reflect on how we can use these different tools. (This is still with little knowledge but at least the heart is willing!)bcukyouth7

For instance today we were talking much more about having online discussion opportunities rather than always having to meet face to face. I’m really interested in this at the moment as I’ve been participating on the UK Youth Online site that Tim Davies has set it up as a space to share ideas and info for people interested in online work and using online technology with young people. (Badge courtesy of Mike Amos Simpson)

Tim has already started some useful discussions about different aspects of youth work on line and it’s interesting to discuss issues that many of us are grappling with or starting to (for instance drawing up policies on online / Social networking sites use etc.)

I’m amazed that there can be these networks of people who I’ve never met who can support and challenge my thinking and with whom I can share and develop areas of work. Given this just imagine how powerful this could be across a whole youth service. So…..I’m just exploring Ning and seeing how this might be used a it like the UK Youth Online site to support the work we do.

We were also talking about maximising shared document writing, conference calls via skype etc. All in all I think we were definately starting to think out of the box. (Now we just need to build a business case for having wireless connections for our laptops!!!!)

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Comments on: "Using online resources" (3)

  1. Chris Cook said:

    I have enjoyed discovering your blog entries when they go up and following the links to the latest toys you’re playing with.

    I think we have to be careful about limiting our options to a particular set of sites or software. I recall at the county conference after DK’s talk that the group I was with started talking about facebook and how we should all have an account as youthworkers. The thing is – I have a bebo, an msn, facebook, myspace, wayn – and today i got told about tagged which I haven’t seen yet.

    There is no one place where the young people are at and there are so many ways to communicate or share documents online now. Not only is there Google Docs but Windows Live shares space online, and there’s also thinkfree.com

    I’ve just got a Nokia N95 and am enjoying the fun of setting it up – and it comes with a nice little tool for composing texts on your PC but using the phone to send out texts through a USB or bluetooth or infrared connection. With 500 free texts a month I know I’m going to be using this to tell the young people about events and what’s going on. Then pointing them to a bebo site or similar to get the consent forms.

    But what I’m trying to get at – there are so many different ways of doing this and we should not stop people trying different methods or recommending any particular brand. Yet we do need to develop guidelines to help people venturing into the online world as well as training to get everyone who is scared of touching that button to have a go.

    Looking forward to that journey …

  2. billybean said:

    Hi Chris

    I don’t think I was trying to limit our use to a single forum, what I think is important is to have clear and consistent guidelines to support colleagues in using and developing online support services as there are a wealth of issues to consider and I think that these put people off trying.

    IN some instances it may be that we chose one tool over another, I know that I have had a number of colleagues working on PBWiki and finding these quite difficult to use and I wonder if Ning may be easier? IT’s all just queries at the moment but if we are to develop a professional discussion forum for WS youthwork staff which I would like to think is a possibility then I think we will ultimately chose one and feed into it from other sites…..but then I’m jumping the gun at the moment and feel that we need to try out different versions ourselves before deciding.

    At the moment I’m just pleased that we’re considering these tools in our SMT meetings and when looking at structures as I don’t think we did before.

  3. I think I’d back up those thoughts – the key thing s to be clear about what you’re aiming to achieve and why you think a particular tool/method/social network will be most effective at doing that. I don’t think trying to make use of everything available just because there may be some young people on them is the most effective use of time.

    We decided on facebook even though we know that some of our volunteers also have bebo and myspace accounts – but its much more manageable for us to just maintain one facebook account than it is to try and keep tabs on who is contacting us through several sites. On the other hand we use all sorts of different video sites because we embed the films into the blog – in both cases though volunteers know exactly where to go if they want the latest info.

    I’m not sure I’d advise anyone to use their personal texts to send out notifications either. This can more easily be done via twitter or any number of mass messaging applications while retaining a clear professional identity. Theres an also issue here to ensure that those young people who are sent texts have agreed that they wish to receive them.

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