Tag Archives: Engagement

10 messages in planning digital engagement with young people

Below are 10 messages to consider in planning any project using digital technology to engage young people and address the key challenges they face. I think most are relevant to any digital engagement process.

The messages have been summarised by Tim Davies from the event we ran last week with Nominet Trust as part of the exploration I reported here. The exploration will help frame a major funding challenge programme. Tim writes at socialreporters.net:

This Thursday we brought together a fantastic crowd of 25 thinkers, social entrepreneurs, funders, youth workers and young people at the RSA in London to explore some of the messages that had been emerging so far in our Young People and Digital Technology exploration.

In a packed two hour session we took some headline challenges faced by young people (youth unemployment; lack of youth influence of local decision making), and dug a bit deeper into them to find underlying challenges and unmet needs. With that as our context, we looked at the messages identified so far, which had been printed out as cards, and discussed them in groups to see how they might be relevant to the challenges.

Here’s the top ten messages, with links to the document where we have been crowdsourcing ideas:

19. Blend online and offline

Digital and online innovations don’t only have to be delivered online. Online tools can support local community building and action – and projects should plan to work both on the web, and in local or face-to-face settings.

6. Use games to engage
Adding an element of gaming to your project can provide the incentives for young people to get engaged. Collecting points, completing challenges and competing with others can all spur young people on to get involved and stay involved.

7. Address the innovation gaps in the back-office
Not all digital innovations have to be about directly using technology with young people. Putting better tools in the hands of frontline workers, and intermediaries who work with young people can create the biggest benefit.

17. Support young people to be creators, not consumers
Digital technology can enable young people to be content creators: “youth can learn video making, digital engagement etc. – and if it aims to be social and community focused – imagine the possibilities!”. Many youth don’t take advantage of digital opportunities for creativity – and action to support them to do so is important. From creating multimedia content, to providing feedback on the good and the bad – young people can be involved in shaping digital resources developed to support them.

3. Encourage co-design/co-design with young people
The only way to create services for young people, is in collaboration with young people. User-centred design, agile and iterative design methods all provide ways for young people to be involved through the process of creating innovative solutions.

4. Consider the livelihoods of the future
Digital technology is not just about easier ways to find a job: it changes the nature of work. Home working, portfolio working, freelancing and co-operative business structures are all enabled by the Internet. Better CVs and job information won’t solve the unemployment crisis: we need to use digital technologies to create and support new ways of working and making a living.

18. Use digital tools to enable peer-to-peer learning
In the Internet age education doesn’t have to be top-down, digital tools allow for peer-to-peer learning: helping people come together to teach, learn and collaborate.

24. Use technology to personalise services
Digital technologies can be used to aggregate content from multiple sources, and customise an individuals experience of online information. Young people out of work or education are not a homogeneous group: and have many different needs.

30. Be network literate and create new connections
Although young people might be using online social networks like Facebook all the time, the connections they have to inspiration, role models and opportunities for volunteering, education or employment can be limited. Think about how digital tools can help you to map out networks, and to make new connections that broaden the horizons and increase the resources accessible to young people.

30. Recognise the diversity of youth
Who are the young people? Although there are many similarities across the 16-24 age group, there are also some key differences in how they use technology.

As Tim says, the next steps are:

  • Iteratively refine the top 10 messages, drawing on ideas from the other messages
  • Identify key questions and issues to explore for the top messages
  • Find social media resources that can provide insights into the content of the messages
  • Pursue other emerging storylines and issues with blog posts, video interviews, shared slides and storifys
  • Start weaving this all together into an online resource and write-up

I’m excited both by the quality of ideas generated so far, and the potential for this sort of exploration that blends online and face-to-face discussion. Fortunately we are following the number one message in our process. If you have further ideas, please do contribute through the crowdsourcing document, or get in touch directly.

Link summary


All posts citizenship

Costs of the BBC Action Network

BBC Action Network costs

As I wrote here, the BBC is shortly closing the Action Network, set up five years ago to support grassroots action. Tom Steinberg, founder of the mySociety, which produces tools for social action and e-democracy, has now established some of the costs of the BBC project through a freedom of information request – details. From the spreadsheet provided by the BBC looks as if it will be rather more than £1.3 million by the time it closes.

I should think that interest will now shift to whatever the BBC is planning next. The closure announcement said the BBC would:

… launch a new service which will give people access to all the BBC’s content across tv, radio and online on a range of topical issues. Many of these topic pages will reflect the same issues that have been central to Action Network, from healthcare and schools, to public transport and policing.
Each topic page will offer the latest news stories on an issue, including TV and radio programmes, while linking to the wider debate through people’s blogs, campaigns and websites.
Many of the Action Network guides and briefings will be moved across to the BBC News Online website and will be found in the new topic pages – and will continue to help people understand how political systems work and how to get involved.

It seems to me that the big question for the BBC – and BBC Trust who will have to approve the plans – is what sort of local online activity they can hope to see in future. As Charlie Beckett questioned recently in relation to citizen journalism – what happens if they don’t come? I hope the BBC, and the Trust, will feel it’s a good idea to co-design and prototype the new system with license-payer/citizens.

All posts journalism

Profit or public service: call in the "users"

I found some convergence in two very different blogs on the value of what-used-to-be-readers in the age of diminishing newspaper sales and trust in journalists.

Ted Leonsis – US sports team owner, former AOL executive, film producer and much else – offers a Ten Point Plan to Revinent The Newspaper Business.
He starts with 1. Get out of the newspaper business – saying you shouldn’t be defined by delivery mechanism: think content distributed by TV, mobile, Web 2.0, radio etc. He goes on to say give it away, team up with media businesses … and lots more to increase ad revenues. Get rid of senior editors … what you need is “algorith managers” who know how to get the best click through to ads.
However, if Ted doesn’t value old-style editors, he does like readers:

9. Embrace user generated content. Today a newspaper company looks at its readership with basic disdain. These organizations must learn how to turn their millions of readers into content generators by creating a national polling service; embracing message board posters as part of the network; finding ways to get consumers to become uploaders of information; and creating local real time YouTube-like applications. Everyone has a cell phone with a camera. Everyone has a cell phone with a video camera. Embrace this audience with services and even a way to get money back for their contributions. Make them a part of your network. Don’t preach to them. Activate them to add to the knowledge base.

T-shirtOver in the UK Charlie Beckett is reviewing Nick Davies’ book Flat Earth News, which blames commercial pressure for an erosion of ethical and effective original investigative journalism … but doesn’t, in Charlie’s opinion, have enough useful to say about what’s to be done. Nick pretty much ignores the positive potential of the Internet, unless savings by using new technology allows employment of more journalists.

Charlie is concerned to increase the contribution journalism can make to more than the bottom line. He

I believe that the solution lies in a mix of market and public service journalism. We need to protect the BBC and invest as societies in other forms of media that address market failure. News media companies need to invest in the future – and they are. But above all we need to seize the opportunities offered by new technology to bring the public in to the process.

… adding:

Davies’ mistake is to think in terms of the numbers of hacks at desks when we should be thinking about flows of information and transparency. It is the public who have the data, the knowledge and the critical insights that can bridge the funding gap.

He adds a plug for Networked Journalism and his forthcoming book SuperMedia (Saving Journalism So It Can Save The World), which I’m really looking forward to. You can get a foretaste in Charlie’s article for the Press Gazette last year.

Two objectives and perspectives – one increased profits, the other saving the world, but a similar solution: support your reader-viewers. Fine so long as they stay contented.

Photo credit: Heather Powazek