Monday, June 8, 2009
Following on from a conversation I had the other day with Tim Davies, it looks like we'll be getting our own unConference here in Wales in September. Clear your diaries for around the week of 24th September.
The venue is Glyndwr Uni in Wrexham and the whole day is gonna be based around young people and social media.
At the mo we're looking for any interest in attending/contributing as well as some sponsors.
Please, if you wanna get involved contact me or leave us a comment and we'll get back to you!
I'll post more details as I get them.....
The Connected Generation Unconference is coming up on Saturday July 11th in London! Looks like a great event. You can register for free and get more info HERE. Be quick as the places seem to be running out!
If you're going from Wales, let me know and we can hook up?
Here's Tim's overview of the day:
"If your work involves young people, then understanding and engaging with social media and online technologies is a must. This event is an opportunity to explore big ideas, and practical realities of weaving the web into work with young people.
As an unConference, the exact programme is created on the day by the participants, who will convene conversations, provide demonstrates and share their insights. However, themes that are likely to be explored include:
- Communicating with young people online - from promoting youth services and positive activities, through to hosting two-way dialogues with young people in online spaces.
- Social networks & youth participation - how can Facebook, Bebo, MySpace and Ning be part of the participation workers toolbox? And how does social networking have the power to change the face of participation?
- Digital inclusion for young people - making sure that all young people have the access to technology and the skills they need to get on in the digital age;
- Practical action - how to make sure online engagement is based on safe-and-sound foundations; getting policies in place; and making sure the technology and staff skills are available to make the most of online engagement;
- Hands-on learning - exploring different social media tools that you can use in your work, and sharing tips with other participants about the best way to use them; "
The DS4 (Digital Storytelling festival) is on 17th June in Aber. I'll be there doin a presentation on our work with young people and digital stories - especially around the future of DS and what opportunities are out there at the mo and upcoming. Here's the details:
Monday, June 1, 2009
This is my effort at a Learning Event Generator that I was talking about in Finland
The original idea and inspiration is from John Davitt all I've done is added some sound effects and an initial input box to type in your own task.
(No, you don't have to do the 'why is mog soo cool' task!)
I do love the LEG and it's a great way to get people instantly involved and being creative
TRY IT OUT!!!!
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Welcome to The Digital Open!
What can you make with technology that will change the world—or even just make life a little easier or more fun?
The Digital Open is an online technology community and competition for youth around the world, age 17 and under.
Ready to join us? Sign up and start exploring!
The top project in each category will earn a fantastic prize pack and be featured on Boing Boing Video! Collaboration is encouraged! Remember, the future is yours to make! We want to hear your ideas, inventions and plans for changing the world through technology.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I've been thinking about this for the last week or so. There's been so much to take in and think about. How can we here in Wales introduce and build on what we witnessed out in Finland? What lessons can we learn? How can we make sure this sharing of good practice and new ideas continues?
I'll start with the last question as we discussed this while we were out in Finland. One of the last exercises we did was to project to the year 2012 and what would information services for young people look like in our respective countries. I don't have the diagrams we made here although I believe they are on their way to me (thanks Elias). As soon as I get them I can post them somewhere along with the presentations.
My idea was to set up a Ning site where maybe we can begin sharing these ideas and plan how this study visit can develop. I know we were discussing some kind of visit here to Wales? I'd really like to move ahead with this and see what develops and how we can use the outputs to inform and develop wider networks (e.g. EYCA and ERYICA?).
We can discuss this on this blog with a fantastic new tool I found out about from Tim Davies who was using "Cover it Live" to "instant blog" a conference around Digital Inclusion and Social Capital here in the UK - check it out in action HERE. This tool is great and may serve as a useful (and open source) solution to holding online youth work and discussions as it has built in moderation as well as a toolbox for storing media and picking up twitter feeds . The interface can be placed on a web page with no fuss. @all on the study visit: Maybe we could schedule an online meeting using CIL in order to discuss how we move forward with our findings from Finland. I've opened up the comments on my blog so you don't need to be registered in order to leave a comment. Let me know what you think and I can organise it here. Maybe we can invite some information workers from the Wales network and beyond?
I'd like to point out a comment left on my blog from Tim (many thanx Tim):
"Really enjoying reading your updates from Finland - and have noted down the Digital Generation elements in the Youth Strategy as key ones we should be learning from in UK.
Where should we be looking to capture learning coming out of efforts to put all of the good ideas from the Finnish Youth Strategy into practice?"
Again I'd really like to emphasise how impressed I was at the Digital Generation aspects of the youth policy in Finland. Elias, maybe you have some ideas of where there may exist already some examples of this online?
For me, there seems at the moment to be something of a gap in provision between digital inclusion, youth work and information work. In my presentation I was banging on about the lack of difference in these fields but yet practitioners have been able to "set up camp" as it were often in the most remote parts of this one field; sometimes erecting lines of defense and distinct policy borders.
The "joined up thinking" and open source philosophy which for me is at the heart of youth work, is often clouded and complicated by the interpretation of policy makers who sometimes allow only a few favourites into their ivory towers (at the worst), or produce policy based on Chinese whispers that come from the ground.
For me, all of these activities go absolutely hand in hand; digital and media literacy is essential as we move forward to an increasingly digital future. In Finland there seemed to be a massive call for "online youth workers", which is fine if there is equality of digital access, whereas here in the UK and definitely in Wales, the idea of universal digital literacy and access is still just that; an idea.
At Canllaw Online, the Gwireddu project aims to try and create equality of access for young people by providing digilabs (over 100 at present) across Wales, especially in those areas most deprived, as without access then there can only be exclusion for those young people; the same young people who lost out in many other policies and initiatives due to lack of access and support.
To promote and deliver digital equality and minimize digital exclusion, it's crucial for us to provide not only the means of access but FACILITATED access: youth workers who provide information, facilitators who promote digital competence and media literacy and not (as I heard a politician say recently) just providing internet access in libraries and community centres. Is this where young people are? If they are at these places are they confident and literate enough to use the kit effectively and creatively? Are they able to develop and produce content?
As well as this, there are of course the inevitable "banned" sites within local authority access points. In the case of the politician I mentioned earlier, despite his show of media competence through having a facebook profile, a twitter account etc, young people in Wales, far from being more connected to decision makers are in fact being excluded from them by virtue of these sites being banned in most local authority provision.
Our call at Canllaw Online is for facilitated access that provides opportunity, in the best tradition of youth work, for open discussion, for the promotion of media literacy and digital competence as opposed to censorship which in itself can be a contributory factor to exclusion, especially for those (great number) of young people who have no access at home.
Another action point to come out of this for me is the often hypocritical nature of youth work and the "one way" traffic of empowerment. It strikes me that the Finnish youth policy has been truly informed by both practitioners and young people across the country and thus reflects a real dialogue between all interested parties. As youth workers we are always extolling the virtues of empowerment and encouraging participation based around the UNCRC, for young people; but what about us as workers?
It seems to me to be often the case that youth workers feel that their opinion is not important, decision makers are "not interested" in how we feel about youth work on the ground. Perhaps we need to be more empowered as workers in order to express and input into national policy. In terms of information work, we always recognise that information for young people should be CRAP (Concise, Relevant, Accurate and fit for Purpose), with this as our mantra (especially the fit for purpose part; being age and audience specific) all we need do is be aware of our client group and present the information accordingly.
That is, we can employ our "youth work skills" to engage with all people regardless of age and therefore empower ourselves to contribute in a louder voice to policy, instead of having to be reactionary to policy in which we feel our voice has not been represented; after all, would we stand by and allow the voices of young people to be treated in this manner?
Wow, that was a bit much? Didn't expect all that to roll out! But then again, whenever I get the chance to work with people from other countries, there seems always so much to bring back, and so much to share.
This blog is being fed into the Youth Information Wales (YIWC) network too, so I'd be really interested to find out how everyone feel s about how we may be able to work together with our European colleagues for mutual benefit and for the benefit of the young people involved.
As well as this I'd also like to point you in the direction of UK Youth Work Online where there are many discussions around digital engagement as well as links to research, new ideas etc. from across the UK.
Hopefully we'll soon have a space where we can begin to develop and implement some of the learning outcomes from the study visit. @Study Group; please let me know if you want to meet up online and I'll get started.
One Final Point
When I returned from Finland, it was the final day of the EYCA conference in Cardiff organised by Canllaw Online. Around 100 members from all across Europe attended and the conference was a fantastic success. All of the effort and organisation form the Canllaw team was volunteered as we have all been made redundant in the last 2-3 months.
We are a small team and I think the level of commitment and enthusiasm to the development of resources for young people (both on and off line) here in Wales and in Europe has been shown to be pretty much unstoppable.
I've been unemployed since the end of March this year, but I believe that there is still much to done and I am committed to continuing this work. My great thanks to all who have, and continue to support us and the work that we believe in.
As a final treat, I invite you to witness the traditional Welsh folk dancing...perhaps this explains a lot about the Welsh (keep you're eyes peeled around 1:18...yes we all dance like this here!!!!!). CHECK IT OUT
Thursday, May 21, 2009
So the last day had arrived, and after rather a late night (although sometimes it's hard to tell with the light in Finland) we arrived at the town hall for presentations from all the participants plus a tour of the surrounding buildings.
I'll post the presentations somewhere when I receive them and post a link. Suffice to say there was much discussion and enthusiasm (and drinking water for me!).
We also had a tour of the surrounding buildings all designed by Alvar Aalto. Follow the link for more info.
We had a fantastic tour and ended up at the top of the bell tower with fantastic views over Seinajoki.
We had some discussion on how we take the findings from this study visit forward which i'll elaborate on in a later post.
The evening was the official reception at the wonderful manor in Tornava. My great thanks to everyone here for a great evening.
Then, unfortunately back to the train for the journey home....
My great thanks to everyone for such a great time: we saw some great practice, talked to some great people, we had great fun. Thanks:
Belgium: Femke, Ringo, Stevie, Gee and Sam
Slovenia: Matjaz, Sanela, Anja and Simona
Wales: Rachel and Kath
and especially to the mega hard working Finns:
Elias (the master)
Heidi and Hanna
See you all in Wales soon???