Christian Herrmann

Fresh product ideas for international youth work

Three project ideas were at the top of the agenda of the 5th Jugend global colloquium on 5 and 6 October 2016: the No Hate Speech campaign, the self-evaluation tool i-EVAL and online courses, otherwise known as MOOCs. As always, the participants in the Jugend global event had to decide which of the three ideas could be turned into an effective tool for the international youth work community and what that tool should look like.

5. Kolloquium Jugend global, Bonn, 05.-06. Oktober 2016 BildImage: Christian Herrmann | IJAB

Via an online platform, experts, organisations, networks and interested partners from the international youth work community can submit ideas to the Jugend global innovation forum which they believe are a valuable contribution to the continued development of their field of activity. The ideas with the largest number of user votes are put on the agenda of the annual Jugend global colloquium for discussion, then two are selected and transformed into products in development workshops.

Project presentations reflect an increasingly digital society

The first project to be presented was the No Hate Speech campaign, a Council of Europe initiative that addresses and combats hate speech and hostility against groups of people online, especially in social media, but also offline. A national No Hate Speech campaign for Germany was launched in summer 2016 with a webseite and a variety of social media activities. The campaign is targeted predominantly at young people and urges them to defend themselves with a loud and friendly voice against haters.

“The campaign is not for the haters, it’s for the silent majority,” explained Sina Laubenstein from Neue deutsche Medienmacher, the organisation managing the campaign in Germany.

“What can we learn from Europe?” asked moderator Kerstin Giebel. “Are there trainers in Germany who specialise in no hate speech? What training concepts and tools are available? How can the international youth work community support the campaign?” The participants engaged in a discussion of these and other questions.

Menno Ettema, who coordinates the campaign on behalf of the Council of Europe, explained how important it is to counter hate speech with human rights education. “We tell people that there are no easy solutions to complex problems, and that we need human rights for everyone,” he said. After the right-wing terrorist Anders Breivik killed 77 young people at a holiday camp in Norway in 2011, the Council of Europe launched the No Hate Speech campaign – well aware that Breivik’s crime was only the tip of the iceberg. “90 per cent of hate speech online is not illegal, and most of those who use it cannot be prosecuted,” explained Ettema. “But these are messages that marginalise people. We are all entitled to use the Internet without being targeted by hateful messages.” He referred to the manual “Bookmarks – A manual for combating hate speech online through human rights education”, now also available in German.

Judith Dubiski from Cologne University of Applied Sciences then presented i-EVAL, a self-evaluation tool for international youth exchanges and holiday camps. This free application was developed a few years ago in a research project on holiday camp evaluations  led by Dr Wolfgang Ilg. Back then, paper questionnaires were filled in by hand, the answers entered manually into a computer, and the results interpreted. Over the years, this has produced the most extensive electronic database of information on international exchanges available today.  With support from the Franco-German Youth Office, the German-Polish Youth Office and IJAB an online tool (app) has now been developed. The new i-EVAL platform is an easy-to-use, mobile, reliable and informative tool that makes it much easier to evaluate exchanges. The software is still at the beta stage, but will shortly become fully operational.

“Can existing materials, such as the Religion Toolbox, be used to create online courses?” asked moderator Christoph Bruners. Absolutely, according to Dr Sandra Schön from Salzburg Research. Her organisation, the developer of iMooX, is at the forefront of the market for MOOCs in the German-speaking regions. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course and is a typically free-of-charge online learning tool that can be used by a large number of people. MOOCs frequently use videos to teach the course curriculum. Questionnaires are used to verify whether participants have learned what the course is designed to teach them. MOOCs are often offered by universities because much of the material being taught offline is already available in video form (e.g., lectures). Meanwhile, though, an entirely new style of video has developed that is designed to give users easy access to complex information.

Initial product ideas

Following an intense brainstorming session, the participants of the colloquium chose the No Hate Speech campaign and MOOCs to start developing product ideas.

Many youth work experts find it challenging to understand the online world that is the natural habitat of young people today. They may know of effective methods to deal with sexism, racism and homophobia offline, but having to deal with these issues online is a different matter. The discussion turned to how (international) youth work trainers can be equipped to learn to manage these online challenges, and to share this new knowledge with other practitioners working in the field. A valuable contribution could be made towards developing a training strategy – an element that so far has not been considered in the German campaign.

As for the MOOCs, the participants hoped that the potential target group can be extended since MOOCs can be accessed regardless of location. MOOCs could be produced that explain the basics of international youth work, if a way can be found to work around the relatively high production costs of such videos. That said, the IJAB archive contains a number of high-quality presentations that could be given a voice-over and turned into videos.

Both product ideas will be discussed in development workshops to take place before the end of the year, with the finished products to come in 2017. If you are interested in getting involved in this process, contact the IJAB team: Kerstin Giebel (giebel@DontReadMeijab.de), Christoph Bruners (bruners@ijab.de) or Ulrike Werner (werner@DontReadMeijab.de). The minutes of the discussions are available at https://www.ijab.de/nc/innovationsforum/.





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