Monthly Archives: January 2009

On one page guides

Beth Kanter has very kindly been tweeting about the One Page Guides I put together early last year – as she is planning to use some  as part of the We Are Media (check it out if you’ve not already taken a look!) project. If you’ve just arrived here looking for them, you can find all the posts on this blog with How To one pagers on here.

I’ve been meaning to do some work to tidy up and update the One Page Guides for a while now – but so far the opportunity has escaped me. However, as all of the guides are available under a Creative Commons licence you are very much encouraged to take them, update them, rebrand and remix them to suit your own projects and purposes. If you do make any updates to make these guides fit with the way some of the websites and services they describe have changed – please do let me know so I can replace the current versions with your latest copies.

Why one pagers?

Whilst some people are not so fond of the one-side-of-A4 format – I still find in tremendously useful in helping social media beginners to get started using new online tools, and as a great memory jogger for those who like instructions to refer back to.  The reality is, that even in the age of rich media, screen casts and blog posts on just about anything you could want to do with social media – most of the people I’ve run training for still work from scribbled notes they have taken in their notebooks from those videos and blog posts. So I’ve found it’s useful to provide pre-prepared supportive guides to go alongside any more flashy training and development resources.

In first creating these resources I also found the discipline of trying to explain a social media tool within the confines of one side of paper to be a really useful one. Unlike a blog post which can go on and on, or a video or screen cast which can always be added to – the limitations of A4 mean you have to communicate only the essential messages about an online tool – and that can really help make it feel manageable and accessible to the social media beginner.

The trouble with one pagers

For all their value – the one page guide is a bit of a beast. Web sites and services are always changing and the guides need updating. But it’s not as easy as editing a blog post – and I’ve found myself endlessly fiddling with layouts when I’ve had to tweak a guide to fit in a new step in a registration process, or to update the screen shots when a service is redesigned.

And whilst designing a one page guide with a specific task and audience in mind works really well, trying to create more general guides, that can be used in different contexts and settings can get a lot more challenging for anything but the simplest of online tools.

The future of one pagers

Whilst not everyone uses tabbed browsers, or is comfortable with a list of URLs and searching for their own How To resources, the ‘print out and keep’ one page guide still has a role. But collating and keeping them updated will remain a challenge. I’m certainly hoping to produce and share some more guides soon – but I’m also reflecting on how there might be a more sustainable supply and stock of these kinds of resources…

If you’ve got ideas, suggestions and reflections on the humble one-pager for social media teaching then I would love to hear them.

Political theory 2.0

[Summary: Yes, it’s time for another 2.0 titled workshop idea. Political theory at BarCampUKGovWeb09 this time]

In a couple of weeks I’ll be heading along to BarCampUKGovWeb09 (you can find my blogging from 08 here) and amongst lots of talking about young people, the web, social network sites and positive activity information I’m hoping to host a session that take’s a step back, strokes it’s beard and get’s a bit philosophical.

But of course, in true social media style, the title includes the ever-used 2.0 designation. Here’s the pitch from the BarCampUKGovWeb09 Ning:

Political Theory 2.0

People have been thinking about government and democracy for thousands of years. But what does all the theorizing from Plato through to Hobbes, Rousseau and Rawls mean when we’re living in a digital world?

Can political theory offer us a framework for better understanding e-democracy and engagement initiatives? What sort of democracy are we building?

This would be a session to workshop an e-democracy/engagement/government initiative with a bit of political philosophy – so either bring your favorite e-project ideas along, or your favorite political theorist and we’ll explore what they have to say to each other…

I’ve already had some great conversations with Paul Evans in working up the session idea – and he has kicked of the discussion with some ideas of what major political theorists might think of today’s e-democracy world:

- Machiavelli would probably have advised his Prince against blogging (but would have told him to lurk and listen)

- Hobbes would probably have said that Machiavelli had a point

- John Stuart Mill would have wanted to see your qualifications before he read your comments

- Tom Paine would have wanted you to be elected before you had any influence

- Edmund Burke would have wanted to be assured that pressure groups had no ability to do anything apart from provide evidence that the elected representatives could sort through

- Schumpeter would have annoyed absolutely everyone in the e-democracy sphere

I’m inclined to think many political theorists might be able to offer us constructive as well as critical points – and I’m really looking forward to taking this exploration further.

If you’re interesting in this exploration too, and you are going to be at BarCampUKGovWeb09 (and even if you’re not…) then join us in planning for the session on the BarCamp network.

Have you tested that online survey?

If you consult young people by running a series of face-to-face workshops then the chances are that after you’ve run the first workshop there will be things you’ll want to adapt for future sessions. Unless you’re working with a very fixed research methodology, you may even adapt the workshop as you go – responding to the prior knowledge and needs of the young people you are working with.

I’ve often had to add new activities into a workshop, or take some out to accommodate the particular levels of interest, background knowledge and literacy of the young people I’m working with.

But when you consult with an online survey, the same ‘feedback loop’ that allows you to check if you are pitching the questions right, and to adapt, doesn’t always exist. And that makes it really important to get young people involved in the design of your online survey, or at least to try out a draft with members of your target audience for the real thing.

Otherwise you end up with examples like this – packed full of assumed knowledge, jargon and questions structured entirely around a policy agenda rather than young people’s lives.

When it comes to delivering consultation online, thinking about accessibility matters more than ever.

A manifesto for online youth work?

[Cross-posted from Youth Work Online here]

Audience Interaction via Skype

Audience Interaction via Skype

Late last year I had the pleasure of speaking a couple of times with Anne Õuemaa and her tear from Tartu’s youth service in Estonia as they were putting together their ‘Youth Worker in the Cyber Jungle’ conference. I even had the chance to present to the conference via Skype and to talk to some of the Tartu youth work team afterwards about plans they are developing to create local social networks where interaction is encouraged to boost young people’s self esteem through affirmation from peers.
True to a commitment to shared learning, the notes from the Tartu conference are now online, and you can find them all (in english) here.

As I browse through the conference notes I found ‘Guides of online youth work’. But as I browsed the 16 points drawn from the conference they struck me not so much as guidelines but almost as a manifesto for youth work and the web. You can read the PDF here, or, take a look below and share your thoughts on this embryonic manifesto…


International Youth Work Conference „Youth Worker Found in Cyber Jungle“
November 18-19, 2008 at Dorpat Convention Centre in Tartu

POSSIBILITIES AND GUIDELINES OF ONLINE YOUTH WORK
On the basis of conference materials

An active participant probably got a lot of new thoughts from the conference about
online youth work, why do we need it and where to start. To help you remember all
the things you have learned the conference team has prepared an overview of
possibilities and guidelines of online youth work. Would you like to add anything
here? Have a great time reading and implementing what you have learned!

1. First of all you have to get over the ancient belief that adults know better
than youth themselves what is good for youth!
Get to know the world of
the new generation! The new generation consists of young people who
demand and expect openness, honesty, constant innovation and development.
They think differently from their parents. If for parents the Internet is another
world, then for youth it is the World.

2. Use new technological means in a new way when working with youth!
New technological means need to be used in a new way. There is a danger of
representatives of the old generation falling for old methods while using
means of new media. This is not very helpful because old methods don’t work
with new means. Previously used communication channels enabled to create a
situation where information was held by one person who presented it to others.
However, the Internet works slightly differently as a communication channel –
there are no hierarchies there, information may be got right from the source
and it is selected on the basis of genuineness. The main communication on the
Internet takes place between individuals.

3. Take into account that today it is easier to be in the same network with
youth than ever before!
Virtual networks start having an impact on
communication, and an assessment presented by an individual may acquire
monetary value. As mentioned before, the structure of virtual communication
networks is no longer hierarchical. The parents of a youth in a communication
network are on the same level as the youth’s friends.

4. Get to know the life in virtual worlds! Get to know the principles of
communication in virtual worlds and use them when working with youth!
Youth and the Internet will go together now and forever, and all kinds of
youth work should be based on the Internet.

5. Get to know the possibilities of information technology and dangers
arising from them!
Remember that life is constantly changing! If you want to
cope and keep your knowledge up to date, you have to move towards life!

6. Use the Internet environment in work with youth keeping their needs and
interests in mind!
If we are unable to generate adequate materials in Estonian
on the Internet, then the current generation will not feel sad about it, they will
manage their business in English from then on. If we are unable to generate
enough knowledge and entertainment on the Internet, then youth will use the
knowledge and entertainment produced by others. The only way is to change
with the times and to go to a place with youth work where youth already is and
try to provide them the information which is interesting and important to them.

7. Tell youth about possibilities and dangers of the Internet and teach them
how to avoid dangers by using the possibilities!

8. Teach youth some source critical attitude, i.e. how to distinguish valuable
information from less valuable!
Digital nomads do not need as much
information as they need help finding the information, assessing its reliability
and interpreting it.

9. Support involvement of youth! The new generation has not grown up in
front of TV. As communication on the Internet is always two-sided, they have
been able to have a say in things and express their opinion since they were
children. That is what involvement is all about. The concept of the Internet
favours involvement. Youth get involved because it is interesting for them.
Create conditions in virtual worlds so that youth could get involved and create
content in respect to subjects that matter to them!

10. Turn the web environment you use for working with youth into the one
which favours intercultural learning!
Create possibilities for presenting
different cultures on the Internet! Translate the information into the mother
tongue of the users! This is how information is transferred from one
community to another and they can get to know each other better.

11. Teach youth, including youth with special needs and other minority
youth, how to present themselves positively (on the Internet),
i.e. how to
play the cards so that it suits best for the youth! In the long run we will be
communicating with persons not a colour of someone’s skin or a wheelchair.

12. Develop the computer park of your youth centre and create possibilities
of communication in virtual networks for youth
, regardless of their
mother tongue, cultural background, special needs, possibilities, etc.

13. Give a child the freedom to test what he has learned on the Internet!
Create a trusting relationship so that the child can turn to you when he has
questions! Just like you don’t follow your child in streets to check, if he is
crossing the street with a green light, in the same way you don’t have to check
on your child on the Internet all the time.

14. Use means of the Internet and virtual worlds when communicating with
youth and motivate them to communicate and act in real life, too!

Although virtual realities may be important, nothing can replace real contact
with a person. Online youth work supplements youth work in real life but it
cannot replace it.

15. Support the developing of self-concept and self-confidence of a youth and
his ability to put his foot down because this is ensures coping in all areas
of life, including virtual worlds.

16. When planning your resources, please take into account that online youth
work takes time and commitment and the work will never end!
Improve
yourself constantly and be a role model for youth and your colleagues! All
virtual channels only work if they have a purpose and if their creators use
them to exchange their everyday messages.


I’ve left comments on this post, but if you are a member then please do leave your comments over on the original post on Youth Work Online.

How would you get up the web presence of a local campaign group?

What bits of Web 2.0 are essential for a local campaigning group?

What bits of Web 2.0 are essential for a local campaigning group?

One of the jobs I’ve taken on for 2009 is getting an online presence set up for the Oxford City Fairtrade Coalition. The coalition’s last static HTML website disappeared when the committee member who had set it up moved out of the area a few years ago, and the group is currently without a proper existence online.

With the rise of the social web over the last few years, it’s obvious that I can’t just set up a new static website. I need to make use of Web 2.0 tools to really give Oxford City Fairtrade Coalition a proper presence in the online space. But what should I use?

Should I leap in with Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook and more? Or is this just going to leave a trail of un-maintained web-debris? What sort of strategy should a small, volunteer run, campaigning group use to be seen on the web?

As I get started setting up a web presence for the group, I’ll aim to document the process, and to produce some practical Getting Started guides for each of the tools I do use (in the style of the one page guides) in the hope that these can be useful to other campaign groups, and possible to the emerging digital mentors programmes. However, before I start on that, I’d really value your ideas on the tools and approaches you would recommend…