In an article for Â«Youth Work NowÂ», Michael Bracey observes that we are not ready to take non-formal education forward into the digital age. I would even argue that non-formal education is currently left behind.
Isn’t that absurd?
The learner-centredness of web 2.0 technology and the learner-centredness of non-formal education seem like such a perfect match.
And yet, we are to be found at the back of the digital revolution. Sitting there, not even really watching.
Here are ten reasons why youth professionals should be blogging:
UNDERSTANDING. Young people are leading the way in which technology is changing our world. Last year, I worked with 20 Europeans – all younger than 25 – who went on a trip to explore the new EU member states Romania and Bulgaria. They reported live from their journeys – magically with tools most of us still exclusively use for typing reports and making phone calls.
Your own blog will not only help you to begin to understand why all that stuff has become so normal to young people. Blogging yourself is the only way to discover the educational potential – and challenges – of blogging. And all the rest…
VELOCITY. When you hit the magic button [publish], your thoughts will be online. There is no editing, no waiting for weeks for some layouter to be finished, no authorisation procedure before the printing – eh, no printing! It’s instantaneous: the moment you want it to be published, it will be published. No fears of being outdated when others can finally read you!
INFORMALITY. On a blog, you can write what comes to mind. There are no requirements or demands on form, structure, contents, arguments, or the logical flow… You decide what gets out there, you set the standards. And with the informality of your style, you make it much easier for people to respond to your thinking – because it doesn’t require colleagues to come up with a fancy answer, they can just fire away with comments on your blog. No humming thousands of songs before reading a response in the next magazine :o)
VARIETY. You are one of the Unspeakables? You don’t like writing? Or you simply prefer photography or radio spots or short videos as a means of expression? This is your lucky time! There are many cool photoblogs and videoblogs and podcastblogs around already, and the scenes of youth work, youth policy, youth training and youth research would all largely benefit from the variety you bring in. Hell, there are even moblogs, and it doesn’t stop there – endless opportunities!
SPONTANEITY. Modern technology allows you to blog quickly, if you want. There is Twitter for being extremely short – you can just sign up for it, and twitter away – or Tumblr, if you prefer a lightweight blogging application. WordPress takes a little longer to set up, but you can do pretty much anything you want with the beautiful beast.
NETWORKING. Through your blog, through sharing your thoughts and giving colleagues the opportunity to discuss and engage with your ideas, you can build up a network that is less dependent on physical meetings, which happen very rarely and are often overloaded with too many things already anyway. Little time is left for professional consideration of fundamental issues that are core to our work – a blog might be the place for you to have such a dialogue.
LEARNING. As a blogger, you don’t write yourself all the time. You also read a lot and get exposed to the views, ideas and experiences of other professionals in the field. Over time, a network can develop and the power and wisdom of crowds has time and space to develop its full potential. As a professional on learning, blogging will help you to become a learning professional.
ORGANISATION. A blog can help to organise your own resources. How many links, documents, papers, researches, resolutions, reports, sessions, documentations, and pictures do you have? Thousands. Admittedly, my own blog is not the best example for a well organised resource section (it will come, one day, it will come), but one can still dream…
SHARING. By making your stuff available to colleagues (and anyone who is interested, really), you make a visible contribution to the quality of the field. Others will happily follow your example and gladly join in to share their own resources, too.
After a while, you might get an extremely powerful, decentralised and distributed network of quality resources at all our fingertips. And the best thing of all: since nobody owns it but the community, nobody can shut it down. If one blog disappears, there will still be many others. We create a community of practice – all by ourselves :)
VISIBILITY. Blogging about our work not only makes problems more transparent or provides innovation through collective exchange and dialogue, it also – plainly and simply – gives the work we do with and for young people a medium, a voice, a platform. Such visibility and accessibility is badly needed – and we know it. We have known it for a long time. And complained about it for a long time, too. Shouldn’t we do something about it ourselves, then?
Are you prepared to share what you are doing –
and make that sharing a part of what you are doing?