Innovation in Participatory Learning

If you’ve been inspired by UK Youth Online to plan a project that pilots new models of online youth work or participatory learning through digital technology then you might like to check out the MacArthur/HASTAC Digital Media Learning competition.

The competition is offering between $30,000 and $250,000 for innovations in participative learning using digital technology. The deadline is tight (October 15th) but it would be great to see UK youth sector groups putting in proposals.

I would be happy to offer free support to any UK based groups thinking about putting in a bid – just drop me a line.

UKCCIS: The right responses are about informal education

BBC News Report on the UKCCIS Launch

Today saw the launch of the UK Council on Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) – making the launch of the Youth Work and Social Networking Final Report even more timely.

The BBC Article about the Council, set up to implement a recommendation from the Byron review, describes it’s work as:

to teach children about web dangers, target harmful net content and establish a code of conduct for sites featuring material uploaded by users.

Whilst the launch of the UKCCIS as a hub for action is a step forward – the big challenge ahead of it is to recognise the value of informal education and youth work approaches in contributing to the safety of young people online, and to adopt different approaches to promoting the safety of children and of young people.

Understanding informal education:
At the launch of the UKCCIS Gordon Brown said:

“The challenge for us is to make sure young people can use the internet safely and do so with the minimum of restrictions but the maximum of opportunities

But just as we would not allow them to go out unsupervised in playgrounds or in youth clubs or in swimming pools, so we must put in place the measures we need to keep our children safe online” (Source BBC News)

It’s crucial to remember however, that our responses to risks from playgrounds, youth clubs or swimming pools do not rely on education campaigns and the safe design of the spaces alone – but also from the skills of professionals who can support young people and who can respond to their needs and issues at the times the needs arise.

Our work on the Youth Work and Social Networking report suggests that investing in the skills of the staff who support young people in informal education contexts has a significant amount to offer in equipping young people to navigate the risks of the web, and to make the most of the opportunities that exist.

Our broad thesis is that whilst awareness campaigns provide the foundation for behaviour change – it is the supportive interventions and opportunities to explore risk issues and sensible peer norms within friendship groups and with responsible adults which can contribute most to increasing young people’s resources and resiliency in the online environment.

Children AND young people
It’s also crucial that the UKCCIS recognises that the issues for the safety of children, and the safety of young people (adolescents) are distinct and require different responses and approaches.

Negotiated not imposed
One of the most interesting part of the Youth Work and Social Networking research was the consultation day we held with young people in Devon over how they wanted safety policies to work.

It’s key for UKCCIS to find the right participation methods to ensure that codes of conduct for websites with user generated content are designed with the impartial input of young people – and that solutions are negotiated with the young users of sites and not imposed by industry.

Where next:
UKCCIS don’t have a web presence yet – but over the coming months it will be key for informal educational professionals to demonstrate how they can support young people to navigate risk. As Josie Fraser notes, UKCCIS still falls short of a coherent digital strategy for the UK – promoting digital media literacy across formal and informal education settings – but it can offer us an opportunity space to move forward with the important work of ensuring that young people are equipped to get the most of emerging and everyday digital technologies

Update: DowningStreet have just put up a video of the launch.

Free course for web 2.0 learning

Michelle Martin, whose instigation of the 31 days to a better blog challenge really launched my blogging, is working with Harold Jarche and Tony Karrer over the next six weeks to offer an open and free course in using online tools for supporting learning.

The course would be a great opportunity for informal educators in youth work to find out about some of the tools that could perhaps be used in supporting young people’s own learning. Whilst the course won’t be geared towards young people’s learning – it will offer a chance to get familiar with the basics of online tools and technologies that offer real potential for enhancing youth work.

Here’s what Michelle says about it:

Each week we will share new activities that will allow you to explore different Web 2.0 tools and discuss their implications for learning. The activities can be done at your own pace and will be hands-on.

The program topics and schedule…

Date Title
09/29/2008 Introduction to Social Networks
10/06/2008 Free your Favorites / Bookmarks
10/13/2008 Blogs
10/27/2008 Wikis
11/03/2008 Implications / Summar

Anyone can sign up for the course, so we’d love it if you’d spread the word, particularly to your friends and colleagues who may be interested in exploring  Web 2.0 and learning.

Head here to find out more and perhaps sign up.

One page guides remixed

Remixed One Page Guide
Remixed One Page Guide

Michele Martin has just dropped me an e-mail with a link to some remixed versions of the one page guides series.

Designed for the Innovation in Learning conference, Michele has remixed the following:

One Pager on Finding-Reading Blogs
One Pager on Flickr
One Pager on Netvibes and RSS
One Pager on Wikis
Social Bookmarking One Pager

You can find the original one page guides they are based on here.

Which reminds me to ask:

  • Have you been using any of the one page guides? Are there other remixed copies out there that I don’t know about?
  • What should be next in the series? I’ve not created any for a while – but I’m hoping to put together one or two new guides soon – what you would like to see?

Update: Lacona Coy has put together a post linking up the One Page Guides with Commoncraft videos for each. A handy getting started reference.

After a pause, an update and promise of posts to come

It feels a little ironic that, just before two days where I’ll be concertedly spending most of my time telling people all about the potential of social media, and quite probably including the URL of my blog on the last slide of the different presentations I’m giving – anyone visiting it will find that the last post was almost a month ago!

So – to make amends for that, here’s a (fairly) quick round up of news that might explain why I’ve not had much chance to blog here over the last four weeks – and, woven in, a preview of some of the blog posts that are hopefully to come:

Youth Work and Social Networking
After six months of literature reviews, surveys, focus groups and action research I hope we’ve managed to get to a strong theoretical foundation that makes the case for youth work engagement with online social networks – and a series of practical steps and useful resources for organizations moving forward with their social media strategies and planning how their youth services can engage with social network sites.

The research launch is tomorrow – and the final report will be available soon from here.

Blog posts to expect: Headlines form the final YWSN report & a copy of our launch presentation…

UK Youth Online
Back in January at BarCampUKGovWeb instigated by Jeremy Gould I was struck by how many conversations were about engaging with young people through the web – but how there were not many people there whose core work involves youth engagement. And through the Youth Work and Social Networking research I quickly found I was talking to lots of people who are doing great things with technology in youth work and youth engagement – but who are perhaps not always aware of each other. So – after an early stalled attempt – this Saturday will see the first UK Youth Online unconference/open space event kindly hosted by DIUS.

Plus there has been quite a network building on the Ning website I set up to help organise the event. So much so – that Ning recently included it as one of their featured networks.

Blog posts to expect: reflections on some of the great projects being showcased, notes from the discussion groups & my reflections on organising an national event for 70 people with no budget, no admin support but a lot of help from your friends..

Video Change
The Video Change project was an pilot I ran with Oxfam exploring how online training can be used to equip activists to use online video in their campaigning. The last weekly module in the course came in August – and I’ve just finished the project evaluation.

Blog posts to expect: tips for using online video in campaigning, reflections on running online training 

Substance Views
The lovely team at Substance are driving some fantastic innovations not only with their successful bid to roll out and expand their Plings project (collating information about places to go and things to do for young people), but with a series of events they are hosting called ‘The Great Monitoring and Evaluation Debate’. Because Substance seem to like things ending in ‘ing’ (Plings etc.) I’ve been helping them set up and facilitate a Ning network to continue the discussions from their events.

Could new online and open source tools that enable ongoing monitoring and evaluation bring about the end of the Annual report? Feel free to join the discussions.
Blog posts to expect: A one page guide to using Ning, exploring the future of monitoring and evaluation,

APYCO Interactive

The Association of Principle Youth and Community Officers are heading for constitutional change. And they’re also embracing new technology – with an online consultation for their members about the proposed changes. I’ve been setting up and moderating the consultation blog, and will be at their upcoming conference to do some live reporting.

Blog posts to expect: A follow up to 7 Reasons Why Youth Workers Should be Blogging with ‘n reasons for the heads of integrated youth services to set up their blogs’

Building Democracy
I’ve pitched a few ideas into the Building Democracy pool – and over the last 72 hours have working with Justin Kerr-Stevens trying to turn this one – about participation through social network sites and across different platforms – into a fully fledged application to the competition.

Blog posts to expect: using mobile phones as the start of a pathway to participation

Moving House
It happened a while back – but I’m not sure I mentioned it on the blog. After a two year stint in the Midlands, I’m now based back in Oxford. And based near a lot of good coffee shops if you are ever interested in meeting for a cuppa. 

Blog posts to expect: (see below)

Oxford City Fairtrade Coalition
And in moving back to Oxford I’ve got back in touch with the great folk of the Oxford City Fairtrade Coalition. We’re just in the process of re-applying for Fairtrade City status – so if you’re Oxford based any know any where in the city using Fairtrade (specifically community groups and businesses using Fairtrade products in company canteens etc) please do drop me a line.

Blog posts to expect: something about fairtrade in Oxford

Sex Sense Website
Years ago I designed this. You can see it’s from an earlier age. Well – time has come to revamp the website of Portsmouth’s sexual health advice service for young people – and this time instead of a web strategy I’m exploring the idea of a content strategy – creating widgets, video clips and advertising copy to get the message about free support and advice for young people out beyond the confines of the single site.

Blog posts to expect: more on the idea of a content strategy, 

New Blog
If you’re a regular reader you might notice I’ve revamped the blog. After a good few hours of hacking I’ve finally transferred from Drupal to WordPress (Drupal 5 to WordPress 2.6) and I’ll be doing more to tidy it all up soon.

Blog posts to expect: quick reflections on a hacky way to move from Drupal to WordPress.

That’s it for now….
I can’t promise all those blog posts will be here next time you look – nor that I won’t hit another short blogging hiatus – but, if any those topics interest you and you’re not already subscribed – please do look for the subscribe links around the blog.

And if you are a regular reader – do please feel welcome (nay, feel positively invited!) to let me know what posts you might like to see here in the future? Are the posts previewed about the sort you subscribed for? What sort of learning do you want to see shared here?

More soon – and I promise there won’t be a month’s wait this time…