Exploring youth engagement in a digital age
On Saturday 28th April as part of the Online Youth Outreach team www.onlineyouthoutreach.co.uk Katie Bacon and I (@tashaturb) delivered the Introduction to Social Media course to the Lewisham Youth AID team http://www.youthaid.org.uk/ as part of a Lewisham Service Providers Forum funded package of social media training, strategy and consultancy.
Youth Aid provide group and one to one support to young people who wish to widen their experience through volunteering and gaining new skills as a means to improve their opportunities to gain access to employment, education or training.
In addition Youth Aid run a programme of short courses and supportive group work providing their clients with the ‘soft’ skills and abilities needed both to make the best use of volunteering opportunities and to improve their CVs.
This was the first time I had co-delivered this training and I can honestly say that I couldn’t have been more fortunate with the group that we were working with on that day. The group was made up of youth professionals, volunteers and management committee members. For me it was very refreshing to meet members from a management committee who were so involved, interested and committed to the project, in this instance whether it was specifically related to not only how young people use social media but also clarify their position as an organisation and the risks and opportunities it presented to them as a management committee.
Over the course of the day we covered the following elements of the programme:
The big challenge of the day was the varying skills and knowledge of the group in relation to social media and how to keep the delivery at the right pace, and keep all of the group engaged in the training. However we need not have worried as the group were so supportive of each other that those who had more experience of social media supported and encouraged those members of the group who had very little or no experience of using social media, whether this be personally or professionally.
This kind of supportive, sharing environment meant that they were able to learn as a team and reflect how this would impact on their roles within Lewisham Youth AID. The morning session covering facebooks profiles, groups and pages was intense because of the amount of content covered and also the discussion, sharing and learning it encouraged. The demonization of facebook by the media in my experience often makes people panic about using it and makes them actually feel extremely vulnerable. Taking the time to go through settings, privacy and the help centre not only shows people what to do to protect themselves but also provides the opportunity to discuss and reflect on what their fears are. When they realise that they are able to put measures in place to deal with some of their obstacles they instantly become more relaxed and confident about using it. I think this is particularly prevalent with professionals who feel that using social media with their clients makes them more vulnerable, when really they need to spend the time to think and plan what they’re doing with social media as they would in the “offline” world.
Finally, the highlight of the day has to be creating the youtube clips, after quite an intense morning, where there’s a large amount of discussion, learning and reflection, being able to be “let loose” to create a video, upload it and share it in less than an hour definitely ends the day on a high. It was really good to see the group really going for it and enjoying being able to use puppets and figures to have fun but also learn all about youtube. There was definitely a great deal of laughter and fun had by all!
This is the first part of their work with Online Youth Outreach, and I know I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to work with such a hard-working, committed and fun group of people again.
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