Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Posts tagged ‘Social Media & Youth Work’

Notes from the Connected Generation Conference 2010 – Part One

Courtesy of Elsie esq

WoW! What a day! Thanks to Tim Davies and Katie Bacon!

I am currently reviewing my notes from the Connected Generation Conference and my brain is brimming over with ideas, thoughts and actions!

The day started off with a number of thought provoking speakers. Amy  Sample Ward gave a quick ( :) ) and inspiring talk setting the context for interacting and engaging young people online, Joanne Jopling discussed the detached work she has been delivering with young women in Gateshead and how this moved on line with some of the pros and cons of using Facebook and MSN Katie Bacon discussed the use of social networking for youth participation and talked through some of her experiences in Devon, again highlighting areas that youth workers need to consider when interacting online. Kieron Kirkland, a learning researcher for Futurelab talked through  InfoCow an online resource that supports young people to explore their aspirations and entitlements and engage with the information, networks and tools that can help put these into practice. And finally Mog talked about Digital Storytelling

So – already mind shocked and the cogs whirring we broke down into work shops for further discussions and presentations. Points that I picked up to reflect on were:-

  • How much should we use offline policies as the basis for developing online ones? Whilst I can see that this would be useful I think that it is important to note that young people use and react differently online. Currently they tend to be much more open, will talk, post, and share personal things that they wouldn’t share face to face. Should this therefore be reflected more in online policies?
  • How we include data protection, the use of cookies etc in the policies we develop (still not too clear on this area myself as it is more techy but it was an area I thought needed noting.)
  • The need to ensure that colleagues keep records of their online interactions, just as they would if they had had a telephone conversation, meeting etc with a young person.
  • The need to educate young people around safety and privacy settings. For instance if they are interacting with us online through an SNS and we note that their profile is ‘open’ should we send email messages to let them know and advice on how to change it?
  • To remember the digital divide does exisit and not to suppose all young people know how to use IT and apps that are about.
  • How do young people know they are talking to a bona fide staff member?
  • Making your online space welcoming and youth friendly and maintaining this.
  • The training needs of both staff and young people, including work around personal boundaries, code of conduct , the impact of their digital foot print – thinking about what is behind the profiles and groups, moderations policies etc.

And that was just the morning!!!!! :)

International Youth Work and Blogging thriving in West Sussex!

It’s summer time and we’re very busy here at the moment. The group flying out to India left in high spirits yesterday and already their Blog is getting a lot of hits. We’re looking forward to starting to get the young people’s comments and views from India soon. So far the technology that we’ve set up appears to be working so lets’ hope it holds up to the next few weeks. The group have 2 Dell netbooks, 4 flip video cameras, 2 dongles (from India) and a few static digital cameras. (As well as a couple of hard drives.) During their time in India they are working towards the ASDAN International Award. Keeping the blog and recording their experiences will go a long way to evidencing their learning without having to do lots of paperwork. (Although they also have some booklet type diary prompts to support both staff and young people.)

West Sussex Inspire India 2009 group at Heathrow

West Sussex Inspire India 2009 group at Heathrow

On Monday a group of 12 young people arrive from China with 3 youth work staff. Colleagues and the young people who went to China last year have been working hard to ensure that we have a full programme organised for them, which we will also hopefully be blogging about on the West Sussex Youth Service Chinese Exchange Blog that was set up last year.

So – a busy time ahead both abroad and in the UK once our Summer Activity Programmes kick off. We’ll let you know how our blogging experiences continue soon.

Youth Work Online Unconference

For those of you that haven’t yet picked it up or read it on the Youth Work online ning there will be an unconference this year on 11th July. You can find out more about the Connected Generation: 2009 unconference on online engagement here on Tims blog.

It’s free to attend, in the same place in Central London as last years thanks to Steph Grey and DIUS, and registration is now open.

If you work with young people and are interested in developing ways in which you can use social media and online technologies to engage and work with them then this unconference is an ideal opportunity to meet others and discuss how to make this a reality. It’s  an opportunity to explore big ideas, and the practical realities of weaving the web into work with young people so head on over to Tims site and register now!!

Expanding the potential of social media

 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?

Work on our Social Media Strategy finally Begins!

Hurray! On Tuesday we finally held our first learning and working group meeting to develop the Social Media Strategy for West Sussex Youth Service. For newcomers I’ve previously written about this here and here. It was great to be meeting up again so long after our training with Mediasnackers. Colleagues experience ranged from those who only know a bit about social networks etc to others with substantial technological expertise.

We discussed the way forward, in particular brainstorming the reasons why we wanted to use social media. This led to some interesting debates about innovation and thinking outside of the box.  For some of the group the focus was more on learning about what was currently out there and how we could make use of these tools to enhance youth workers practice rather than actually changing or using the tools in a different way.

Part of the time was also set aside to share our own online discoveries and current practice. This was a useful way for colleagues to learn more about online possibilities and to gain more experience. We finished off sharing out a number of tasks with a view to posting them on our own ning site prior to meeting again in a few weeks.

There’s a few urgent areas we need to move on. I’ve been visiting a few centres recently and know that young people are using computers in them without any guidance posted in relation to both safety online and acceptable use. I’m also aware of centres publicising their activities on SNS and colleagues using their personal profiles online. Without wanting to restrict colleagues and young people I think that these are areas we need to address as soon as possible for all concerned.

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:-

UKYouthOnline Unconference

Wow! I’m really disappointed that I missed the UkYouthOnline unconference on Saturday. It sounds like it was a great day with a meeting of like minded people involved in youth work, social media technology and a range of other professions. A huge thanks must go to Tim Davies who has been a real driving force not only in setting up and running UkYouthOnline but also in organising the conference. Having not been there it’s hard for me to report on it however there are a host of posts coming through, try a few of these as well as visiting the main site for more on all things Internet, young people, youthwork, social and INNOVATIVE!!

The Power of unconference

How are Young People using Social Media

UkYouthOnline and Open Source Youth Work

UkYouthOnline Reflections

Digital Youth Work – Rationale

The Online Conversation in the back of the bus!

Recently I’ve been having a look at some Social Networking Sites that colleagues have set up and came across an interesting conundrum (or at least I thought it was!). A youth provision had set up a Bebo site that has attracted a reasonable number of young people. I looked around the site and then thought I’d see what sort of access the young peoples’ profiles had (as education in this area is something I think we need to work on with youth workers). On clicking on a young persons profile I went through to their page and a whole set of photographs. I felt that one of the photos was inappropriate – it was of a sign saying ‘gay’ with an arrow pointing at another young person who had their back turned away. There were a few, not particularly nice, jokes in the comments section following this.

Courtesy of didbygraham

Courtesy of didbygraham

So the question I was left with was what, if anything, do I about this? Mike Amos Simpson has previously raised questions about how far we encroach into young people’s spaces and this crossed my mind. After all it wasn’t directly on the site managed by us.

However this didn’t sit comfortably with me. I was then talking with a colleague about social media in general and this topic came up. In discussion we concluded that this was roughly equivalent to when you’re driving a minibus full of young people (more…)

Studying Youth Work – Training in how to use Social Media

Courtesy of Jose C Silva

Courtesy of Jose C Silva

Back in January Tim Davies wrote a post 7 Reasons why Youth Workers should be blogging. One of the comments from an individual studying youth work in Bristol was:-

“im currently in my 2nd yr studying youth work at uni. part of the course rightly involves students meeting together outside uni to discuss, support each other, time restraints means we have never all met up… why are we not using the resources other profesions are making full use of… “

In the local authority I work in a few of us have been sharing this social media journey and discussing how we might influence the training of new youth workers. One of my colleagues is involved in lecturing at a local university and following our training with DK and team from Mediasnackers is now looking to introduce some of what we’ve learnt about Social Media in her lectures.

I was also fascinated to see this Ning site from Australia which I thought was not only an interesting way to use social media to train but also meant that people had to use the site and learn how to in order to access some of the information. I’m now pondering on how I can take some of these ideas to use within the service with staff who are already qualified. 

Social Media Training with MediaSnackers

Wow! What a great and informative few days we had last week. A group of 10 of us from across the county got together for 2 days of training by MediaSnackers, I’ll talk a bit more about it in a moment but why write when you can see a more dynamic version so…..

Thanks DK and team!!!!

As you can see we were enthralled! The training gave us a good overview of lots of different sites that we could use both between ourselves as professionals as well as with young people and demystified alot of the technology (I even understand all about my RSS feeds now, something I’d managed to sort of pick up but isn’t it so much quicker when someone shows you how?!?!)

I think one of the real ‘in your face’ aspects of the training was that with very limited hardware (a few cameras and some mobile phones) and a little know how you can actually quickly design some great looking, funky sites, create polls and share lots of information. Having the chance to explore Bebo was quite eye opening to all of us as it was really easy and as Tim Davies  mentions on the Youth and Social Networking Research Project Blog  it’s amazing how much you can learn in such a short space of time. Tims’ also developed a one pager on how to get started on Bebo but really the best way to work out what it can do is to go and have a go yourself, try it out! With so many young people interested and using the site it has to be easy!

The training really brought home to us how little we think and use the internet in developing our work and just made us realise how much more we needed to get to grips with the technology. However for me the fundamental questions still need to be answered, how are we best going to use this, and developing technology to do or support our youthwork? And on we go towards our social media strategy!!!!

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