• alicjapawluczuk

Impact. Impact. Impact: sharing my doctoral research with the Digital Youth Workers Network

In May, I presented my research project at the Scottish Digital Youth Workers Network meeting. Once again, I got reassured that sharing is indeed caring.

Digital Youth Workers Network aims to connect practitioners who implement "digital tools and online spaces in their work with young people”. The group is managed by YouthLink Scotland and YoungScot. This short description perfectly sums up its purpose:

"The Network is a place for workers and volunteers to share practice, opportunities and information. It will facilitate learning about new and innovative approaches in digital and developments within policy. We will explore opportunities to collaborate and to improve practice as well as meeting other practitioners from across Scotland and beyond using digital tools in their work with young people."

(YouthLink, 2017)

Why should YOU consider joining the Digital Youth Workers Network?

I have been attending DYWN's meetings for about two years now. Since 2015, I have had several opportunities to learn about some fantastic youth-led initiatives experimenting with digital technologies (for example YMCA Paisley, 5Rights, What is Your Story?). Over the last two years, the members of the network have explored topics such as ethics, impact, youth work challenges, youth participation, digital rights and many more.

So far, DYWN's discussions and presentations have been extremely useful in terms of my practical and academic digital youth practice.

From my personal experience, I know that working with the digital youth can be at times challenging and confusing. The network has helped me to clarify the purpose of my role as a digital youth practitioner. Below, I'm listing some of the questions I have had a chance to explore with DYWN's members:

  • How can I protect myself and young people while using digital technologies?

  • How can I keep the right balance between being innovative and exciting, and safe and boring?

  • How can I keep the right balance between online and offline youth engagement?

DYWN's meetings are always held in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. There are no wrong questions or answers. The challenges surrounding digital youth work are openly discussed, and good practice from members is always shared. As a DYWN's member, I have always felt supported and comfortable sharing concerns with regards to my own digital youth practice. I'm convinced that my participation in DYWN has also provided me with a source of inspiration when choosing to my academic research.

(If you think that your digital youth work/research project could benefit from joining the network, you can contact Liz Green via this link and join our next meeting on 22nd of August! )

Impact. Impact. Impact:

sharing my doctoral research with the Digital Youth Workers Network

In May, I decided to present my doctoral research project with the network. I felt that it was the right time to discuss my idea in a real-life, practical context. After twelve months of intense literature review, and finalising my preparations towards my data gathering stage, I needed to go out into the field to check if what I’m trying to achieve is needed in the field.

The presentation has been a perfect opportunity to re-examine the objectives of my research project and address the following questions:

  • What type of social impact am I looking analaysing - personal or societal impact?

  • What kind of frameworks have I analysed so far?

  • Am I mainly focusing on digital youth work in Scotland?

Apart from asking the above questions, digital youth workers have also provided me with some suggestions with the regards to my doctoral research. Firstly , Liz from Youth Link suggested the Youth Work Outcomes model (available here) can be used in order to analyse impact of digital youth work This is definitely something I have not had previously considered in my literature review. (Liz, thank you for sharing this extremely helpful link :) ).

Secondly, Allan Berry from Creative Scotland, presented his work on measuring the impact with an application called STAR (l'll be adding a link to the app soon). Once again, this is something extremely important in the context of my research. I'm sure I will get a chance to discuss this further with Allan, during my interviews stage planned for this summer.

PhD research: #SHARINGisCARING

Overall, the experience of sharing my research project has been extremely useful. It has not only allowed me to share my ideas, but to collect some relevant feedback from my possible stakeholders. After all, sharing is caring.

The purpose of the presentation has also been to invite digital youth workers to participate in the empirical stage of my study - interviews and survey. These will take place this summer and I will contact the DYWN's members soon with the details.

In the meantime, I would like to thank the group for having me and I hope that my research outcomes will aid your/our work in the future :)

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Dr Alicja Pawluczuk

Alicja’s research, art and community education practice focuses on digital inclusion and education, gender digital divide and feminism. She is a founding director of the digital inclusion and digital storytelling collective Digital Beez. Through the use of participatory, critical and multidisciplinary approaches, she aims to examine the power dynamics associated with the digital and data divides.

Alicja’s digital inclusion practice is rooted in the areas of democratic education and community development. She has extensive experience in digital inclusion community projects design, facilitation, and evaluation. Both her community engagement practice and her research are characterised by the use of experimental and interactive methodologies. Over the last 10 years, her work has been responding and changing in accordance with the contexts of digitalization of society. Alicja has a track record of peer-reviewed publications and cross-disciplinary public engagement activities. Both her research and practice are characterised with the use of experimental and creative methods. She has managed and contributed to digital literacy and digital inclusion and learning projects with the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and Erasmus.

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