Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Posts tagged ‘Blogs’

Inspire India Staff Review (All Phases to date)

Finished Sanitation Uit

Finished Sanitation Uit

Last night I met with the Inspire India Staff Team to review the programme to date. It was a really interesting evening with lots of discussion, laughs and challenges. We are going to put together the information to date and I will post that later on. A few thoughts though that made me think and really struck home were:-

  • We had a long discussion as to whether the lead in time ought to be longer and why. Views varied from no, the timing was right and we may have lost some of the young people if it had been longer to yes, it should be much longer so that the young people know how hard it’s going to be and will drop out if they’re not committed enough. (Even though of 30 young people who went out to India we had only 2 returns, one of whom was a late notice replacement and wasn’t entirely versed in what the scheme was about). What came through from the discussions were the ‘judgments’ being made by the staff on which young people had benefitted from the experience (regardless of what the young people themselves were saying about their learning) and how much of this was related to the staffs own values and morals.  This proved to be quite a challenging and interesting conversation and I think all of us went away still mulling over the ideas presented.
  • The young peoples’ very positive reception of the whole blogging concept (even though we had done very little prep with them on this). The groups overseas worked with young people differently but both sets of staff felt that blogging supported and gave added structure and purpose to the experience.
  • The Community aspect that came across through the blogging including some very postive affirmations for a group of young people who probably don’t receive so much praise and interest. (And the fact that it is a permenant record that they can go back to whenever they want.)
  • The challenges of working in partnership – which we inherently knew would be the case and worked hard to minimise but weren’t as successful as we would have hoped to have been.
  • And finally, that all the staff still felt that it had been one of the most challenging and developmental experiences of their careers…..and were still keen to do more!!!

Some time was also put aside to put together the young peoples’s follow up and review in a weeks time. It will be interesting meeting up with them and seeing what they think now they’re back here. They will also be choosing what they want to do for the volunteering phase and finishing off the ASDAN International Award which they have been working on.

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Digital Media, Children and Young People

This summer I really think that we’ve started to integrate digital media into our work across the Youth Service and spread the message of what we do wider. For example, one of the by unintended by products of the young people blogging from India has been the impact on not only on them but also on their communities. Below are a few examples of how blogging has been going inter generational!

Blogging in India

Blogging in India

“Nanny pat been blogging every day and is as proud of you as we are.”

“Nan`s here tonight she`s very proud of  you and has really enjoyed seeing your pictures,teaching her how to blog!!!”

“Aren’t you impressed I am blogging? Look forward to seeing you. Love Nan and Grandadxxx”

“Will get dad to blog tomorrow”

Young people involved in the Inspire India programme all come from targeted backgrounds and it has been amazing to see the communal response to their experiences. Families, carers, workers and friends have been following their adventures, their ups and downs and giving them a lot of encouragement. When we have had to contact individuals we have frequently had comments about groups of relatives and friends sitting around the computer to post comments or to see what has been happening.

As well as this the young people in india have been learning how to use the video and digital cameras to capture ‘the moment’ and then spending time describing their experiences. Many of them have had negative experiences of writing at school however appear much happier to write on the computer and using text language, or textese simplifies communication for them. (Although I have to admit that sometimes I find it difficult to interpret! 🙂

Young people involved in hosting the chinese on the china exchange programme have been writing up their experience and reflections on the china blog and I’m hoping to post some video feedback from some of their discussions shortly.

As well as this young carers involved in the Summer Camps during the last two weeks have been keeping video diaries. (Again, watch this space for some examples of what they have been up to). We hope that this will develop into an ongoing piece of work with the young carers group that will give them an opportunity to share their experiences as young carers with others.

So……..we are starting to bring together the hardware, experience, knowledge and creativity to help us start taking toddler steps in using digital and social media in youth work. Whilst this is taking a long time I feel that with ongoing hard work and intiaitive we will be able to further develop this work and embed it more fully into our practice.

Initial Reflections on Blog by young people in China

Well, I’ve more or less had the final blogs through from China and thought I’d just share my initial thoughts about how we’ve used this tool so far for this experience. We will be ongoing with the blog (hopefully) in the future but it’s been a real learning experience for all involved and I have no doubt we will be writing this up, at least briefly, to help inform our future practice.

My colleague, Maralyn, has written a thoughtful post here on our West Sussex Youth Exchange – China 2008 blog. I think that one of our key learnings for the future was to throughly investigate whether there are any potential blocks on the hosting site you use for the blog. However, in saying this I think that it has been useful having the blogs come through as emails as I have done a few limited edits. This has been important as we were publicising the blog to county council members etc. and needed to ensure that the material was appropriate. I think that it is important to think about what audience the blog is going out to and how this might be managed. This would be especially important in any form of Crisis Management as the immediacy of the blog and what may be being posted may not be ‘on message’. I had a few interesting internal debates about the integrity of editing the young people’s blogs however this was minimal and hopefully did not detract from the gist of what the young people were saying. There is a similar discussion to this here on Youth Work Online . Another time around I would discuss this more in advance with the group.

West Sussex Youth Exchange Group - China 2008

West Sussex Youth Exchange Group - China 2008

The next point is that blogging takes time!!! I think those that blog know this however I think that we do need to think about how we as youth workers build this into our programmes when using blogging as a reflective tool. I am looking forward to discussing this with the group and seeing whether there would have been any difference if there had been group blogs, or individuals having a day each to blog? I’m also interested in how the videoing turns out and how this balances with the blogs as they have been recording a lot of their thoughts on video too which for some might be an easier medium.

Well, these are just quick thoughts and I will no doubt be posting more. Thank you to those that have been following the China blog, the young people have enjoyed your comments and also been inspired by the number of views they’ve been getting. If you have any suggestions for the future or any other thoughts on the blog please do leave a comment below as we’d love to get any feedback.

China Update 3

I thought it was time to bring us up to speed with all things Chinese! Unfortunately I’ve had to withdraw from the exchange (at least physically) as I’ve not been too well and felt that I wouldn’t be able to lead and support the group on this exciting adventure as well as I needed to. Fortunately another colleague has taken my place and the group is now really getting to grips with what they are going to be doing.

Risk assessments have been completed, more forms filled out, visas sought, the usual passport frenzy calmed and more information shared with the young people about what lies ahead of them. (Ranging from dodgy toilets to amazing banquet meals).

As we are trying to expand both their and our skills in social media we have set up a blog for the young people to share their adventures with all of us and their Chinese counterparts. We are aiming for this to be an ongoing blog after the group return and for it to still be in use when we host (hopefully) the return group. Do visit for yourself to see how our experiment goes and here is a sample of some of their video introductions that they’ve posted so far:-

What I have learnt from Blogging so far

Mike Amos-Simpson has written an article, both in Children and Young People Now and also online about the development of online resources as a tool for youth work professionals as much as for young people. In commenting on his post it has led me to reflect on what I have learnt since I took the plunge into the blogosphere.

As a complete novice I was quite intimidated by the ‘net’ and concerned about various factors, in particular:-

  • Blogging whilst working for a local authority as there are no guidelines
  • What colleagues might think and whether it would affect my relationships with them
  • Whether I actually had anything of relevance to say

In trying it out I’ve discovered not only that my concerns were unfounded but also a whole new community and abundance of resources that have stretched my thinking and pushed me to look outside of the norm for solutions. Online forums have opened up a realm of possibilities for sharing and developing work across both the county and the country, bookmarking sites have now become a major resource when I’m seeking information on different topics (along with other peoples’ blogs) and I’ve discovered virtual worlds and social games which I’m still getting my head round and trying to work out how I can use them in my current work.

Mainly it has been a change to my mindset. Blogging has helped me to:-

  • Be more reflective,
  • Think about (and place ) my work in both a local and national context
  • Learn from others
  • Understand how I can do things differently in order to communicate with colleagues more effectively, work collaboratively and share my ideas and thoughts with a wider community

So what’s stopping you?!?!?!

Some interesting links (or so I think)

Map of Online Communities by D'Arcy Norman

Map of Online Communities by D'Arcy Norman

On a couple of blogs I’ve seen a round up of sites and whilst I’ve been doodling around the net I’ve bumped into a few that I thought I would share in a quick hit whilst they are in my head (and high up on my delicious site!)

I found this through Flickr put together by D’Arcy Norman I don’t quite know what I’m going to do with the site, here at TouchGraph but it sure looks pretty! A bit like the Digg Labs Swarm

Youth Participation / Online Civic Engagement

Have a look here at Building Democracy where there is a new fund to support innovative ways to increase participation. With a forum to float ideas there are some interesting ideas and there must be some more youth ones we can develop.

There is also some interesting research and information about youth engagement at Engaged Youth

Well, that’s my first few…..more to come soon!

China Update – 1

Ok – I’ve decided that I need to somehow order my China inputs so I’ll just number the updates from now on. (unimaginative I know but hey…at least there’ll be some sort of order!).

Well, we’re going!! Last week I had to make a call as to whether to book flights or re-reserve them and have to pay a much higher price so I decided that we would take a risk and book them. I let our China contacts know and they quickly came back confirming the dates are ok. Still some queries on the programme (even more so as they’ve added a “tour of the mountain using ropework”!) however it looks like they have taken on board our request that the young people share 2 to a room and this will also happen on the homestay they are offering us. WoW! When I visited 2 years ago homestays were not an option so it’ll be fascinating to see how we get on.

greatwall (2)

The road to the Great Wall

We’ve had our Information Evening for friends, family and supporters which, although we tried hard not to make it doom and gloom, gave a realistic picture of what we may experience over there. (Transport, Accomodation etc) In doing this, and in making sure that everyone has a hard copy, we hope that people will be able to give informed consent. It’s things like everyone knowing that the coach we’ll use out there won’t have seat belts and the driving standards are different to ours so that they can decide if they are happy with that level of risk.

We’ve got our young people’s preparation residential this weekend coming which will be great fun (of course 🙂 ) and hopefully will give the group an insight into themselves, who they are, what culture is and also heaps of media stuff. With luck I’ll be reporting back with photos and video blogs etc as this is a key part of our work with the group. (Of course, now that we’ve been inspired!) I’ll let you know how it goes…..

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