This is a reference for Alexandro Jan Lai

Play it Forward

The training activity took place
in Daugirdiskes, Lithuania
11-17 Jan. 2020
Reference person

Vitalii Volodchenko

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Aims & objectives

A seminar for youth work trainers to have the opportunity to explore and embrace the technology and opportunities the digital world offers to better understand how we can disseminate the outcomes and impact of our work.
Objectives were:
1) Allowing trainers the opportunity to explore tools for media production and digital communication to ensure the reach to young people and other stakeholders.
2) Supporting trainers and their ability to assess and measure impact and outcomes; disseminate results and build digital competences to do this.
3) Offering trainers space to improve the quality of training events and trainers’ competences through collaboration and learning together,
4) Fostering innovation and internationalisation in education and training organisations, involving trainers working in the field of youth.
The TC helped in increasing the competences of the participants involved in a way that was readily applicable in practice. Still, because of the COVID-19 crisis, we believe that a real assessment of the impact of our project will be possible only after the lift on travel restrictions effectively halting youth mobility and training projects. We do have some data from our two surveys launched between April and May that show a growth in confidence in the use of social media to communicate about projects but for what concerns the real assessment of impact on specific projects, the possibility to measure it was hindered by the abrupt and undefined pause in every mobility across Europe. The best we can do is draw some positive speculation from the increase in confidence shown by the two surveys we managed to deliver to our participants and this would let us be optimistic on the possibility for our partner organisations to use in a much more effective way social media to share their future projects results and outcomes improving their possibilities to make a lasting impact.

Target group & international/intercultural composition of the group & team

31 people, almost all youth work trainers, gathered from 15 different countries for this seminar including the staff members. Participants were from Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Turkey, Serbia, Netherlands, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Belarus, Austria, Armenia and Lithuania.

Training methods used & main activities

The seminar included external input from 2 experts on the importance and challenges of measuring the impact of social and educational projects and on the main trends and tools for online communication for social initiatives. We also had a chance to give an overview of what NAs look at when assessing communication about and dissemination of funded projects. The methods chosen for the seminar aimed at maximising the opportunities of increasing specific competences through a direct experiential approach so we mostly focused on hands-on activities and in sharing in groups skills and know-how.
The seminar used a variety of different formal and non-formal methods and approaches and they included; presentations, group work, experiential learning, online, offline and reflection.
The seminar followed two parallel tracks: on one side every day we tackled new topics and explored specific arguments and themes, on another more transversal level the whole length of the seminar participants have been included in a newly designed group activity that we called "Digital servicing groups" with the mandate to give the highest visibility to the seminar while at the same time testing and becoming familiar with different tools and communication formats.
Among the other many methods used I like to mention the designing and implementing of a preparation tool invented by my colleague Buzz Bury called "Digital Detectives" that allowed for an online preparation phase involving a mix of getting to know each others dynamics and a debriefing on online privacy and identity issues.

Outcomes of the activity

In terms of results our aims were reached as follows:

1) reflect on methodologies and approaches that measure impact and outcomes of our work and assess its results.
As mentioned above we hosted an external expert that raised a very rich exchange among participants on what is relevant, what can be measured, how and when. The comparison with the point of view of the National Agency, brought to us by the contribution by Monika Paulauskaite (illustrating what the NAs normally may be looking for in terms of visibility and results) allowed for a quite diverse range of opinions and for a fruitful exchange among them. Participants had a chance to test and compare during a specific group work session several of the main data collection and analysis tools used in our field with a special attention to social media related statistics tools (among others: Typeform, Instagram Poll, Survey Monkey, Google Forms, JotForms). Also one hands on module was dedicated to exploring tools to collect data to measure and manage trainers competences (Appraiser).

2) Improve skills in communicating outcomes of training projects - understanding target groups and stakeholders, channels, and appropriate ways of communication online. And 3) Give trainers the opportunity to explore tools for digital communication, assessment and dissemination of training project results to better reach the key stakeholders of the youth field.
These have probably been the aims we pursued with the best results as we organised our group activities and agenda in a way that allowed for a testing and exchanging among participants of many different tools to answer to different target groups and contexts. The results were assessed through two surveys in April and May 2020 and, even if the COVID-19 emergency changed the scenario we had planned in our project (there were no real training opportunities to check for the implementation of new skills by our participants), we did get positive feedback both in terms of an increased confidence in using different tools and in exploring new ways to use them. Still it was not possible to collect the data we were hoping for as almost none of our participants were later involved actively in delivering trainings due to the lockdown measures and to the Erasmus+ coming to an halt even before each countries quarantine measures were adopted.

4) To practice effective communication, creative digital production and dissemination of the seminar results.
The choice of involving all the participants in practical digital groups to test every day a different tool was the best way to experiment with various forms of communication. Participants produced in teams different practical contents and many posts in the main social media channels: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and also Snapchat (although for the nature of this last social media it was more of a very flexible and playful exploration). Then a special attention has been placed on measuring the reach of those contents, raising awareness of the importance of a close and detailed monitoring of results in our communication.

Given the unexpected and dramatic changes we all lived very shortly after our seminar the original plans for impact assessment had to be changed to meet a new context.
We had to adjust to the new situation in checking if our project had spurred any changes or impact in our participants approach in using media. There were no more training courses to benchmark the application of learning outcomes and thus we decided to verify impact at least in terms of what perceived by the participants.
2 months after the training, in the middle of the hardest phase of the lockdown in Europe, we issued our mid term survey. 2 months later a new research done after 1 more month including people attending TCs on digital tools to evaluate their impact during the lockdown, involved a few of our participants. Their response about our seminar shows how they felt more confident in using new social media tools.

Your tasks and responsibilities within the team

I worked as facilitator together with my colleague Buzz Bury as a team of 2 and we both shared responsibility for the designing of the agenda, its implementation and the daily evaluations.

I worked on this training for 5 days as a full time trainer.

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