Oxford Internet Institute / Youth Work and Social Networking

Challenges in Youth Work and Social NetworkingOn Monday I gave a presentation to the Ofcom/Oxford Internet Institute seminar on Social Networks about some of what we have discovered so far in the Youth Work and Social Networking research project.

A few people have asked me for the slides – so I've put them up on the project blog over here.

More results from the research will be available soon…

Update: a webcast of the presentation is now online here. My piece starts 59 minutes into session 1.

Non-formal education goes WWW project

Non-Formal Information Goes WWW Image

I came across Andreas' work at nonformality.org when he added to the reasons why youth workers should be blogging. And now Andreas and the team at the National Youth Agency of Estonia are taking the initative to kick start even more dialogue about how the informal learning sector across Europe can get far more engaged with the web by pulling together a Networking Seminar in Tallin, May 30 – 31, 2008.

From the Seminar flyer:

The context – why?

Non-formal education is an exciting way to learn: full of opportunities to be discovered – but not very well recognised at times. The internet is an exciting place to learn, too: full of different opportunities to be discovered – but also quite lonely and confusing at times. Imagine the power unfolding when the two come together!

This networking seminar wants to offer time and space to people, groups, teams, initiatives, projects, and organisations who bring together non-formal education and the world wide web. There is surely something we can learn from each other! And there might be something we could do together, too…

The timing – why now?

In recent weeks and months, more and more websites have emerged about and around non-formal education and learning. It seems to be the right time for bringing them together for an exchange of experience and some dreams about the future!

The aims – what for?

The networking seminar aims to offer space and time:

  • to get acquainted with different web-projects and initiatives about or for (raising awareness on) non-formal education and learning,
  • to discuss the role and potential of these projects and initatives for the recognition and valorisation of non-formal education and learning, and
  • to explore needs, potentials and strategies for co-operation between such initiatives and projects in the future.

I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to make it (it's a little tricky to just slip in a trip to Estonia whilst pledged not to fly in Europe…) but it would be great to see some representation from England there. Perhaps we could host a bit of a pre-discussion to feed into the seminar at BarCampUKYouthOnline which is taking place just before on the 17th May.

I've attached the full flyer to this post below. Deadline for applications is the 26th March 2008.

Attachment: NFL goes WWW call and application-1.doc

Youth Work Guide to Blogging from YOMO

Blogging for Youth WorkTwo of the reasons I gave in my recent post '7 reasons why youth workers should be blogging' were to share resources, and to build networks.

Well, following some blog-based networking and discussion sparked by that post, I've just logged on to find Mas from the the YOMO Breakfast Society blog has drafted a fantastic 'getting started guide' for youth work blogging resource. And DK from MediaSnackers who has been taking advantage of his speaking gigs around the country to encourage youth service blogging is proposing a video intro as well. Blogging and collaboration in action.

You can find the draft guide Mas has written attached to this post, and he is inviting feedback to help build to a final version of the guide. It would be great if readers with experience of trying to promote blogging in different sectors and organisation could cast an eye over the guide an offer any advice.

The guide is also really interested in helping me to think about developments for the one-page-guide series – as somehow Mas has managed to fit a fantastic amount of information into the 'Blogging for Youth Work' guide whilst at the same time managing to keep it looking a lot cleaner and less cluttered that the guides I've been developing so far.

A tool for planning participation activities

Last year I spent an afternoon working with a number of charities who had come together to plan a residential that would involve a few young people linked to each organisation working together planning a shared social change campaign. We were talking about the different things that event organisers need to think about when bringing together a diverse group to make big decisions.

Participative Session Planning Tool

It quickly became clear that to make the residential sessions truly participative so that everyone could have an equal chance to be heard and to influence decision making and to make the sessions truly effective so that they could lead to solid decisions everyone could work with, all within in a tight timescale required a lot of planning and forward thought.

On the train home from that meeting, I tried to capture as many of the different aspects that need to be considered in planning an effective participative session with young people in a simple session planning tool (and, as with all youth-participation tools, I’m sure it has a lot to offer in terms of running sessions with adults as well).

From the tool itself:

This tool is designed to help you think about planning a focused session with young people or community groups. A session may be stand-alone, or may be part of a longer process, day or residential. It encourages you to think about the purpose of the session; the information and understandings of context that participants need in order to make informed decisions; and how you come to a group decision that everyone understands and can move forward from.

I’ve attached a copy of the tool to the bottom of this blog post as a word document and it is made available under a creative commons licence which means you can use and adapt it freely as you desire.

I’m not usually one for creating form-filling exercises, but its crucially important to put thought into effective participation sessions, and sometimes using planning tools can be effective in supporting that. I’ve certainly found it useful as a checklist to remind me to think about the whole picture when I’m planning consultations. I’d love to hear if you do make use of the tool, or if you’ve any suggestions for how it could be improved.

Attachment: Participative Session Planning Tool – 0.2 .doc