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ISIC2018 paper presentation - 'Digital youth work: youth workers' balancing act between digi

Paper presented at ISIC2018 in Krakow: 'Digital youth work: youth workers' balancing act between digital innovation and digital literacy insecurity'.

Authors: Alicja Pawluczuk, Hazel Hall, Gemma Webster and Colin Smith - Edinburgh Napier University

Purpose: The aim of this paper is to present empirical research which examines the ways youth workers in the United Kingdom perceive their work in the context of digital literacy project facilitation. There is currently limited research focusing on digital youth workers’ perspectives on opportunities and challenges affecting their interactions with and perceptions of young people’s digital literacy. Thus, this study aims to: (1) contribute to the scholarly discussion on digital youth work and digital youth literacy (2) elicit and analyse youth workers’ perceptions of the opportunities and challenges of youth digital literacy project facilitation

Method: Twenty interviews with digital youth workers in the United Kingdom were conducted in 2017. The interviews were based on themes drawn from a literature review that explored the areas of digital literacy, youth information behaviours in the digital age, digital youth work, and digital youth participation.

Analysis: Research data analysis was guided by a grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006) methodological approach and conducted using NVivo 10 software. Results show a clear alignment with the existing literature in the areas of youth digital literacy and digital youth work. The analysis presented here focuses on two emerging themes: (1) Digital technologies in youth work: youth workers’ hopes and fears; (2) Digital literacy in youth work: youth worker’s perspectives on the digital skills gap between young people and adult youth work facilitators.

Conclusion: The results of this study reveal that youth workers are both excited and sceptical about the digital development in the field. There is an existing anxiety associated with the lack of digital literacy skills in the youth work sector. Thus, it is argued here that further research and practical digital training initiatives should be undertaken to examine youth worker’s digital literacy skills.

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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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