On July 18th 2022, partners of the Digital Youth project met in KMOP premises in Athens, Greece for the project’s first face-to-face meeting. The meeting was an opportunity to discuss the results of the focus groups with youth workers and youth trainers and the next steps of the project. The consortium discussed the development of the handbook for youth workers, as well as the e-learning platform and the recommendations report which will be produced in the project to promote and improve digital youth work across Europe.
Digital Youth aims to empower and support youth workers to develop their digital skills and knowledge, in order for them to be able to effectively engage in digital youth work. To achieve the best results, the project regularly incorporates youth workers and young people in the development of the materials.
The Digital Youth project partners have conducted focus group interviews with youth workers and youth trainers in Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, and Spain. The focus groups took place in May and June 2022 and aimed to map the gaps and needs in the field of youth in relation to digital youth work, in terms of their knowledge, skills, and competences.
In particular, the focus groups aim to:
Assess the current state of digital skills knowledge in youth workers
Identify gaps in digital skills and competencies of youth workers
Identify what youth workers need in digital skills
Identify digital devices and apps/software youth workers use daily.
The focus groups have gathered very valuable information from the target group of the project, which will be furtherly analysed and will lead to the creation of the Digital Youth Training Package. The package will include an Interactive Handbook for youth workers and online learning modules, as well as other useful resources for youth workers and youth trainers.
On May 20th, 2022, The Rural Hub organised a focus group with nine youth workers from local youth organisations. All participants present were specialists in the youth sector and held experience in the fields of coaching, mentoring, child protection, digital media, accessibility, and outdoor recreation. The focus group was conducted to identify the current state of digital competencies amongst Irish youth workers. This sought to map the needs and interests of youth workers to develop impactful learning modules in the field of digital youth work.
From the results of the focus group, it was found that digital technologies play a prominent role in the youth work sector in the 21st century. It is evident that the young people of today are heavily immersed in the digital revolution and therefore need support and guidance from youth workers. In order to facilitate this, youth workers agreed that they need to be fully equipped to deal with the challenges an current reality of technology in today’s world. All participants felt that digital tools should enhance youth work practice rather than replace traditional methods. Therefore a greater focus must be placed on the importance of digital youth work for both young people and youth workers alike. On a national and regional level, this is an important part of modern-day techniques to council, contact and support youth. The digitalisation of youth work practices can proactively address digital media and technology to promote responsible ethics, values, and principles within the use of digital technologies. In order to implement the digital transformation of youth work, it is important for youth workers to consider digital collaboration, digital needs, updating existing policies and guidelines, digital access, and safe and accessible digital environments. It was found that it is vital to support youth workers to look broadly at the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to ensure youth engagement through digital tools, platforms, and resources. Therefore, training programmes are needed to connect digital and youth work competencies to develop engaging learning environments throughout the cycle of youth work.
Digital skills comprise one of the eight key competencies for lifelong learning. Digitally skilled youth workers will competently promote and ensure successful civic participation of young individuals. On May 15th 2022, the Cyprus Youth Clubs Organisation (KOKEN) conducted a focus group to gather qualitative data for the development of the DigitalYouth Training Package: an interactive handbook for youth workers. The following is a short description of the Cyprus report prepared and submitted by KOKEN in partial fulfillment of the aims of the DigitalYouth project coordinated by CARDET, Cyprus.
Focus group: A description of the sample
A total of five individuals participated in the focus group discussion. Sixty per cent were female, mostly youth workers (60%), the remaining being a president of the board of a non-governmental organisation in the youth work sector, and one educational psychologist. The age of the focus group ranged between 24-45 years old with over 10 years of experience in youth work.
Overview and Current status
Participants acknowledged the importance of acquiring digital skills and expressed the need to be trained. They discussed how the social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and online communication platforms (e.g. Skype, ZOOM) had significantly contributed to connecting with young individuals-especially during the COVID-19 crisis and lockdowns. They noted that overall, they have been attending non-formal educational trainings, seminars, workshops, activities, webinars, job shadowing and study visits both for professional and personal development. An overall consensus was also noted regarding the benefits of a freely accessible to youth workers’ platform containing an exchange of best practices, webinars training sessions and digital tools. An acknowledgement of learning basic internet, IT skills and Microsoft Office was also brought forward. Additionally, participants stated that they have been using online communication platforms (MS Teams, Zoom, Skype), social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram) for communication and training purposes, Microsoft Office (PowerPoint, Word, Excel), Coreldraw, Photoshop and WordPress during their work days. A lack of familiarity with MOOC, DigComp, DigCompEdu, Youth Work Portfolio of the CoE as well as with digital tools for use with individuals with physical disabilities was mentioned throughout the discussion.
Although participants took a positive stance regarding digital competency, they raised their concerns about the time consumed on training and adaptability and highlighted possible resistance to change from fellow youth workers. Notwithstanding, participating individuals were keen to adapt to changes and attend how to use effectively digital tools trainings, trainings on using online applications for employees, online courses and modules. Basic IT knowledge and skills, and MS Office were also regarded as a necessity in the workplace and the importance of trainings on successfully using online communication platforms and social media was also highlighted during the focus group discussion. Trainings on how to apply age restriction on websites and security and safety trainings were also deemed important and useful
Based on the above findings, KOKEN recommends the following:
User-friendly & easily accessible tools.
A step-by-step guidance for each digital tool.
Basic Internet skills modules.
Digital tools for individuals with physical difficulties.
How to effectively use communication platforms.
How to effectively use QR codes at work.
Security & safety guidance on using online communication platforms, social media and the internet.
MOOC introduction, ‘how to use’ guidance and benefits.
In June 2022, Asociación Caminos conducted a focus group with 4 youth workers and 1 facilitator. The youth workers worked with young people in different fields, for example, as a trainer in courses, as a counsellor, as a supervisor etc. The participants were all from the region of Andalusia in Spain.
The participants highlighted that one of the biggest challenges at the moment is the transformation of youth work into digital youth work and the use of digital tools, the need to combat the lack of motivation of the youth population, largely caused by the high unemployment rates in the south of Spain and the consequent emigration to other European countries.
All participants think digital youth work has potential and allows for a deeper cooperation between young people and youth workers, they do see the main challenges in the lack of digital skills and competences to handle the new dynamics brought on by digital youth work.
In regards to digital work in general, the participants support an improvement of digital work in organisation, stating that a lot of organisations are already upgrading rapidly, doing a good job in adapting. They also stated the importance of developing tools to reduce overstimulation and excessive hours with digital devices.
All participants voiced their satisfaction with the digital tools they use at work, although they also reported a certain degree intoxication and sometimes not knowing how to switch off.
When asked how they would implement digital tools with a young person who has physical disabilities, they stated it depends on the kind of disability. Reaching a person who is blind is not the same as reaching a person who is deaf or has a degree of autism. It is important to know the audience they are working with to address these issues and find solutions for effective and motivating activities.
The participants named multiple objectives and recommendations which the Digital Youth Handbook should cover:
Avoiding a digital generational gap
Inclusive, equitable and quality education and opportunities
On 18 May of 2022, KMOP-Social Action and Innovation Center organised a focus group in Greece, in which seven youth workers with over five years of experience participated. The focus group aimed to gain a full view of the current state of digital competencies amongst youth workers and map their needs and interests in digital youth work. According to the participants, digital tools should be seen as a means to make their work more enriching and not as a substitute. Even though the majority of the responses revealed a generally positive stance towards the complementary use of digital tools, it remains evident that lack of knowledge or resources (e.g., human capital and infrastructure) still prevails. As regards their thoughts on the most important digital skills to use in youth work, these referred to competences needed to effectively and responsibly use, create and share digital resources for learning. They also suggested that youth workers should be further motivated to become familiar with the various tools they need/want to use (e.g., Jamboard, Mentimeter, Padlet, Canva, Mirro, as well as different social media), as general digital skills are sometimes not enough. They should explore the numerous possibilities that the digital era has opened up and learn more about how to a) engage youth with physical disabilities, b) support young people to become active citizens in a digital society, c) keep the participants’ interest active and d) respect GDPR and Copyrights at the same time.
Digital Youth, a new transnational initiative aiming to promote youth work, has kicked-off on Thursday, January 27th 2022. The meeting, which took place online due to Covid-19 related travel restrictions, was an opportunity for partners to get to know each other and discuss the initial steps of the project.
The Digital Youth project aims to empower and support youth workers to develop their digital skills and knowledge, in order for them to be able to effectively engage in digital youth work. To achieve the best results, the project regularly incorporates youth workers and young people in the development of the materials.
Stay tuned for more information that will follow soon.
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