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Friday, 14 May 2010

Connected Generation 2010 #cgen10

I attended Connected Generation 2010 in Bristol on 7th May. The event focussed on using social media to reach young people where they are. The day included ideas on launching and developing digital and online projects with young people responsibly and safely.

We were welcomed by lollies and plenty of tech (the coolest mini handheld video cameras by busbi £35), to record short clips from the day and a macbook to update Twitter with our comments. This enabled all the participants to create an on-point online record of the day under the searchable hashtag #cgen10. I updated key points to add to the record.

The morning speakers were very inspiring and covered a range of issues. Amy Sample Ward from Social by Social talked about researching your projects to find out where young people are online and the aims of your work. The main points I took away were that young people need to be inspired to engage and be empowered by a social media project, engagement is not simply following but interacting, and you need to talk to them in their own language online. We need to work on ensuring the platform and content inspire the young people using libraries.

Jo Jopling gave a fantastic presentation on her youth work project in Gateshead, using msn chat and her professional Facebook page to reach 'at risk' young people. Jo has engaged 180 young contacts. To keep it safe there is a tag team member or line manager online for support. Young people have to ask to be added and parents are notified about the project, records are kept for evidence, as you would a youth work session and safety messages on the Facebook page give advice on safe use of social networking. Jo recommends you set guidelines - only experienced youth workers take part, as young people are fearless online. Online youth work is the most valuable tool Jo has ever used.

Mog aka Chris Morgan Outreach worker for GEECS communities 2.0 project uses digital storytelling as a tool for young people to have a dialogue about difficult situations in their lives. Mog says "stories are digital media tools". They develop skills such as creativity, photography, editing, production and DVD authoring. GEECS also work with SMS stories texted to an online message board. A tip is to make it relevant to young people, give them a voice through participation and inclusion. More about the project on their blog.

FInally Kieron Kirkland from Futurelab talked about supporting young people aged 14-19 to raise their aspirations. Futurelab have set up a site that enables young people to learn about their rights in their language, it is linked to Facebook and enables young people to network and vote on content. The site looks like a really useful resources for young people so we have set up a link on HeadSpace Efford's blog and added to the Plymouth Libraries children's cyberlibrary.

In the panel discussion the importance of protecting professional integrity and client privacy was highlighted, panelist Katie Bacon recommended a record sheet to log conversations and anonymous usernames to keep personal information confidential.

I attended presentations on Plings (places to go and things to do for young people) and social media policy and practice. I learned that we have a duty to collect and share information with young people in spite of the issues, a bored o meter app can be used on Facebook to guage young people's response to your page, you can ask young people to post info on their Facebook pages to increase your reach. We also have a responsibility to put together a relevant risk assessment in partnership with our partners which enables us to protect us as professionals and the young people when they access our pages. Katie Bacon recommends a secure site that only members can post on in confidence for youth work.

In our openspace session on Facebook I learned that it is easy to install a 'like' button on your site which will appear on young people's Facebook pages. However this does appear on other's homepages, and you need to put together a statement which makes young people aware of this. This can be used as an opportunity to educate young people about privacy.

My follow up for our library service as a result of Connected Generation 2010 will include:
1. Regularly maintaining existing social networking sites (our blog and Twitter) to make them fun and fresh
2. Involving young people more in the content of the site
3. Developing a safe use of social media policy for young people and staff, based on our own acceptable use policies and other safe use policies
4. Developing the use of Facebook as an online outreach point for young people to talk about books and other media, reserve items and get help with homework
5. Ask for some training to host digital storytelling workshops at HeadSpace sessions

Overall the conference was a great day, it was my first course around social media and even though I am already using the sites I learned a tremendous amount and would be keen to attend next year.

To quote Amy Sample Ward: "Start listening, start asking and start inviting. Try something."

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