I thought I would add a blog about the experience of using social media equipment to support young people both sharing their experiences overseas and as a tool for recording learning outcomes for young people.
Armed with a laptop and two types of video camera a handycam and a Mino Flip Camera, dongle and digital cameras we set off to China. First problem the Blog we had created in the UK was unobtainable within China. I have since discovered from Chinese students that this is common, that you can use sites like Youtube and Facebook, because these are checked rather than blocked. Since discovering this we have been using our contact point back in UK (HIlary) to upload blogs and photos we send back via email.
Most young people in China apparently use a program called QQ but this is in Chinese (obviously) and not therefore easy for us to use in the UK. They did also discuss using MSN and Youtube so I would recommend using them for communication in future.
Initially young people were a little inhibited to start blogging, however as news of the number of hits we were receiving grew so did the recognition by the group that Blogging provided an instant and high impact method of sharing their experiences with everyone on the same day they experienced them.
The group has been encouraged to reflect throughout the day about their experiences through discussions both one to one and in small groups. The group then reflects individually about their own experience and shares this on the blog. The positive of this is the ability to share information while it is still current and fresh in their mind, the down side is the length of day this means for the group.
The average day consists of the group undertaking their official programme till about 9pm sometimes starting at 6.30am. The group then has free time but is asked to contribute to the blog site as often as they feel able (this is proving very popular so we are having to stop the sessions about about 12 midnight so the group can function the next day. After this staff then are reviewing the materials and uploading the blogs to the website.
On the days when we decided to use a Mino Video Camera to capture a quick snapshot of views about their experience the process took significantly longer. This should be accounted for when planning this format for future work.
Despite the additional time demands on the group, the results have been a fantastic reflection of the experience from the young peoples perspective, its been so busy most evenings that workers get little opportunity to add blogs. The feedback that the blog has had well over 2000 hits so far after 8 days has been very motivational for the group, who have recognised the power of this form of media in sharing a message, quickly and efficiently to a wide audience.
The group are impressed that they can create a short film, upload to the internet and have it on the blog the same day. This is something they have expressed an interest in developing back at base within their own Youth Centres and Colleges – watch out world.
More reflections about the process later but off to sort the latest batch of blogs so bye for now.