I am a Youth Worker and I am going Digital

 In Blogs

Hi All,

This is my very first blog for Youth Work News, so I’m more than a little bit excited. Why am I excited? Because I’m hoping that through my blogs I’ll be able to get some of you involved in piloting digital badges in youth work/informal settings.

What? Wait! What are Digital Badges?

I could blog for weeks about what digital badges are or I could link you to a video that’ll explain the concept in two minutes. Even better you could take a digital badge just for understanding what digital badges are. Hurray! Here’s one I prepared earlier (have a go with the badge canvas, it’s quite good to work through with young people – I’ve tried it myself so I know it works).

Why do you care? Why should I care?

I started working for DigitalMe (we work exclusively with digital badges) because I saw the huge potential for them to recognise the skills that young people were developing in some of my youth groups. I am an ex-Senior Youth Worker.

The group I was really thinking about was a digital skills group that I supported. The young people were learning all sorts of things. How to blog, how to schedule tweets through Hootsuite, how to curate digital content etc… I was looking for a flexible and ‘light touch’ way of enabling them to showcase their learning.

That led me to explore badges as a way of doing this. That led me to a job at DigitalMe where I now focus on badging for young people skills and learning in informal settings.

So I reckon my fellow Youth Workers could also see the potential for digital badges.  That’s why I’m here on Youth Work News looking for fellow pioneers.

The bigger accreditation schemes such as DofE, Arts Awards, UK Youth Award are all great but in my opinion (feel free to challenge me!) Youth Workers also need a ‘light touch’, short span, and flexible means of recognition to accompany them. Especially if you’re running ‘drop-ins’ or out on detached work. You can use badges with mobile phones and apps! I still haven’t given up my dream of bus shelter universities – Communiversity?

DigitalMe (who I work for) are now also part of the City & Guilds group so the potential for more official verification of digital badges is also afoot.

Exciting times!

What are youth workers doing with badges so far?

There’s Poole Borough Council who have created a pilot badge programme for their entire young people’s offer. I’ll get Peter whose a Youth Worker there up and blogging here soon to tell you more about what he’s doing.

There’s my own Work for Success programme. This is a differentiated badging programme that’s running at the informal education centre’s at West Ham United, West Bromwich Albion,  Bradford Bulls & Leeds Rhinos.

This is looking at badges for young people to help them develop employability skills focusing initially around personal development but going on to work experience within the clubs. I’m using the Impetus PEF Ready for Work framework as the basis for the badges and for guiding the young people through.

We’ve worked with 46 + young people so far who have earned 177 badges and generated 177 pieces of evidence of their skills and learning! It seems to have gone well. If you’re interested in hearing more, drop me an email and we can have a chat through the evaluation report. I might even do a separate blog about that as there’s loads of learnings, feedback and pointers that Youth Workers might find handy.

In Leeds, we’re working with Leeds City Council on a similar programme to the above, working with young people who are NEET or ‘at risk’. Early stages for this one but I’ll blog about some of the results coming out of that programme soon.

Then there’s YCiF (Young Carer’s in Focus).

This is now in it’s 4th year (working with the Children’s Society) and equips young carers with media skills to amplify their ‘voice’ and opinions. Those media skills are badged and enable young carers to showcase the skills they have developed.  There’s loads of material on YCiF, the videos are the best place to start.

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There are also loads of other youth work badging projects bubbling under but as this is a blog, I’ll cut it short for now.  I’ll be adding new blogs that look at specific applications through Youth Work News over the coming months.

If you’ve suddenly become really excited about digital badging & youth work, you can drop me a mail at kevin.field@digitalme.co.uk or grab me on @kevin_DMe and we can get our heads together.

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