Another year, another set of exciting conferences. In March 2018, I’m going to Barcelona to present my research paper titled “Social impact evaluations of digital youth work: tensions between vision and reality” at the Transmedia Literacy.
Transmedia Literacy will take place in Barcelona on 21-21st March 2017. The aim of the Transmedia Literacy project is to examine how the young people gain learning skills outside the school. As you can read on the event’s website: “The construction of those cultural competencies and social skills will be at the centre of the research. Once the informal learning strategies and practices applied by young people outside the formal institutions are identified, the team will ‘translate’ them into a series of activities and proposals to be implemented inside school settings”.
In the context of my doctoral research work (focusing on young people’s digital participation and social impact) the Transmedia Literacy Project sounds like a perfect opportunity to meet experts and researchers in this area. Not only it is primarily focusing on the digital needs of young people, but it investigates the informal education setting - which is also the centre of my research.
The programme for the event sounds very exciting and the conference is bringing digital youth scholars covering areas such as:
Transmedia Skills & Participatory Cultures
Experiences: Production & Education
Transmedia Education & Social Action
Learning about Media
Methodologies & Interventions
Experiences: Storytelling & Education
Transmedia Education & Social Action
Approaches on New Literacies
My presentation : “Social impact evaluations of digital youth work: tensions between vision and reality”.
The conference will provide me with an opportunity to share my data analysis of 20 interviews with the digital youth workers in the United Kingdom. In my paper, I'm focusing on the discussion on social impact evaluation. How do youth workers perceive the concept of social impact and process of evaluation of digital youth projects? See my paper abstract below for more info -->
Purpose: This paper presents empirical research, which explores the ways digital youth workers perceive, and evaluate, the social impact of their work. There is currently a research gap with regard to the measurement of the social impact of digital youth work. Thus, the aims of this study are: (1) to contribute to the scholarly discussion on the social impact of youth digital participation, (2) to elicit, and analyse, youth workers’ perceptions of the social impact evaluation of digital youth work, (3) and to propose recommendations for further research in this area.
Method: Twenty semi-structured interviews with digital youth workers in the United Kingdom were carried out in mid-2017. The interviews were based on themes drawn from a prior literature review exploring the areas of youth development, digital youth participation, social impact, and social impact evaluation.
Analysis: Research data analysis was guided by a ‘grounded theory’ methodological approach, and conducted using NVivo 10 software. Results show a clear alignment with the existing literature, in the areas of youth participation, and social impact assessment and evaluation. The analysis presented here focuses on three areas of tension between the study participants’ vision, and the reality of the social impact evaluation of digital youth work: (1) Favouring positive stories of impact. (2) Chasing the impact proofs instead of examining the change, (3) Following an interactive youth project with an unengaging evaluation process.
Conclusion: Current (externally governed) evaluation practices, limit digital youth workers’ abilities to critically examine and provide feedback on impact. Acknowledging that there is a need for further research in this area, this study propose three recommendations, primarily aimed at digital youth work funding bodies: (1) Facilitating serendipitous interactions in digital youth work, (2) The further research required in order to provide digital youth workers with a set of tools - or guidance - in order to measure and understand the social impact of their work, (3) Adopting playful methods of evaluation in digital youth work.