Trainer at Konekt
Years in service as e-facilitator: 15
Number of people supported / trained: 1000
For over 15 years, Tom has been a trainer at Konekt, an organization that provides training for people with intellectual disabilities and their network. He focuses on challenging topics such as sexuality, transgressive behavior, and social skills. Two years ago, the topic of digital literacy and e-inclusion caught his attention. This topic is new to the field: many persons with intellectual disabilities do not have access to the digital world, and those who do, do not receive the guidance that is required for making adequate use of the digital opportunities.
In Belgium very few e-inclusion initiatives are available for this target group. Together with Digitaal.Talent@Gent and Mediawijs, Tom created a training program on the topic (see below) and contributes to the website www.onbeperktmediawijs.be. He continues his training on computer skills and internet use and organizes a monthly ‘Mediacafé’ where persons with and without disabilities are welcome to improve their media literacy.
Tom masters a wide array of training methods: peer discussions, exploring new digital tools, presentation, home assignments, quizzes, etc. He is continuously looking for new information and tools. As very few tools are readily available for persons with intellectual disabilities, he often adjusts existing tools and tailors them to their needs.
For each training, he thinks of new ideas, tools and methods to inspire the target group, their assistants, and the teachers at the schools they attend. Until two years ago, Konekt did not have a training programme on media literacy and digital media: the then existing training solely focused on computer use. In 2015, Digitaal.Talent@Gent contacted Tom to explore the possibilities for persons with intellectual disabilities, and together they set up the ‘Onbeperkt Mediawijs’ project. Since then, Tom has further developed his expertise on the subject at an amazing speed.
ONE OF A KIND
In close collaboration with Digitaal.Talent@Gent and Mediawijs, Tom has created the training program ‘Mediacoach for pairs’. This innovative programme allows for a bottom-up approach of media literacy. Ten pairs take part in the program to become a ‘mediacoach’, each pair consists of a person with an intellectual disability and an assistant. All participants pass on their knowledge to their peers and colleagues, in trainings they organize themselves in their own organisations. As such, the participating pairs implement their learnings in their own organization: such ‘transfer’ between training content and practice is crucial for Tom.
The assistants testified that the training helps them to work on media literacy with the target group and their colleagues. The participating persons with an intellectual disability grow in their role as a trainer or a coach. Tom facilitates this by creating moments for them to practice their new role and letting them act as a co-trainer in other training events.
Davy has an intellectual disability. He has a passion for digital media and enjoys helping others. The training ‘Mediacoach for pairs’ was right up his alley. He participated together with his assistant Jens. It quickly became clear that Davy had a real passion for the subject, and Tom noticed that he more progress than other participants. Therefore, Tom gave him an extra challenge and made Davy a co-trainer, helping the other participants with the use of tools such as Spotify and Instagram. Tom encouraged Davy to also take part in the ‘mediacafés’, where he quickly started coaching other participants as well. In the meantime, Davy and Jens have set up a training for the persons with a disability in their organization. Here, Davy will assist others in a wide range of topics such as Facebook use, safe internet, and password selection.
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