On 29th and 30th of October 2009 we went to Esplai for a study visit. We had the opportunity to talk with the persons in charge of conecta-joven programs. This program focuses on ICT training for beginners and on innovative solutions to fight against the digital gap. The project trains 16-18 teenagers, including second generation immigrants to teach basic ICT skills to adults beginners in ICT, especially unemployed, people isolated by old age and gender, newly arrived migrants, etc.
We visited one telecenter and talk with several “Facilitators” ( i.e. young trainers’ trainers) and young trainers themselves: we were very impressed by the quality of the work done by youngster teaching IT to senior people and the enthusiasm of “Facilitators”. From our side we spend some time to talk about our experience about gender issues in ICT and we explained the cybersoda project - run in Brussels (Belgium) by Interface3
- that includes a toolkit to help teachers to lead ICT training for children and teens. We think it was an excellent experience to exchange good practices and maybe a start for further projects together.
The phases of the Project
Conecta-joven is an interesting project started in 2006 by Esplai in a partnership with several public and private entities. The innovative idea is to lead teenagers from 16 to 18 to become ICT trainers for adults during at least one year.
The project is organized in several steps. Of course, steps are partial simultaneous but it’s easier to introduce them in a chronological point of view.
At first, a 4 days training for “facilitators” is organized in both presential-like and e-learning methods. Facilitators are employees by the partners in the project: municipalities, social houses, school etc, in the whole Spain, which is a big country; therefore it is interesting to mix the two kinds of learning methods. Some meetings are organized at Esplai but they are followed by e-learning lessons via an e-learning plate-form all year long. The use of MSN and Skype are has as well become a habit for people working at the project, to exchange ideas and discuss problems and solutions.
The second step consists in teenagers’ recruitment. Apparently, the more difficult part of this step is to establish good relationships with schools directors and teachers, who often are too busy with their all days routine and problems to have time to spend in new projects. The proximity (regional, cultural and so on) between facilitators and schools - often located in the same neigh, or in the same village for the countryside - is of course a good beginning to introduce the Conecta-joven project to directors and teachers and to organize a meeting with students. The recruitment of “volunteer- teenagers” is not a major problem: every year many new volunteers join conecta-joven. There is no selection of teenagers based on their performance at school; nevertheless they must feel themselves comfortable with ICT skills, love ICT technologies and feel like teaching them to adults.
Once the volunteers recruited the third phase of the project must start: the training of young future trainers by the facilitators. The 15 to 20 hours training focuses on the “pedagogic, sociological and psychological skills” whereas the technical skills are not a topic of the learning. This phase of the project is made easier by the fact that many facilitators have a degree in social sciences or psychology: they actually are experts of the topic.
The final phase of the project, i.e. the ICT classes done by young trainers to adults, elders etc. is of course a learning time for young trainers as well: in fact, the young trainers’ training is based on the “learning by doing methodology”.
Trainers are coached by “facilitators” during the first classes and a meeting is organized every week between “facilitators” and young trainers, just to check up that everything’s going well.
Evaluation of the project and most interesting issues (for Interface3).
The final step of the project is obviously his evaluation in a quantity (how many facilitators, young trainers and final beneficiaries) and quality (degree of satisfaction of actors involved) points of view.
According to Laia and Catalina, the degree of satisfaction of final beneficiaries is very high. Concerning the young trainers, just a very few of them quit the project before the end of the year, whereas 15% of them continue the experience the next year. This is really surprising in my opinion considering the “difficult age” of teenagers, and in most cases the social-economical situation of both young trainers and final beneficiaries.
I think that the smartest idea of the project is the “role playing” situation between young trainers and adults (final beneficiaries): exchanging roles in an interactive situation is probably the most valorizing experience for young trainers. In this learning-teaching experience they actually are “the teachers” and have to matter about adults’ psychology, as well as their degree of “learning potentiality” etc. They are put “on the other side of mirror” and I supposed they understand more the attitude of adults (parents, teachers, authorities in general) towards them by staying in their position for a while.
Another interesting issue is the percentage of women involved in the project: 70% of “facilitators” are women and 70% of young trainers are girls! It’s interesting to see that when a social goal (to help people) is clearly announced, girls are more able to enjoy technologies…
Meeting facilitators and young trainers
During our stay we have the opportunity to talk – via MSN - with some facilitator (from Fondacion Tomillo, Associacion La Rueca in Madrid and Abierto Asturia, in Aviles) and to meet one of them in Barcelona, during our visit to Centre La formiga. It was interesting to discover how people belonging to different organizations aimed by different goals are able to work in the project and share best practices. These meeting - both virtual and real – have been the time for us to ask practical questions about the organization of their job, their difficulties etc.
I was surprised to discover the adultness, seriousness and degree of engagement of young trainers’ in Centre La formiga. They explained that this experience was really interesting for them; a way to participate to the development of society. The six women we met seemed to be enthusiastic about the ICT training: one of them explained to me that she was starting to use MS Excell to follow the accounting of her family! Not surprising, the boy told us he wanted to become an ICT specialist, his passion and hobby. I was personally very glad to discover that the girl wanted to became an ICT specialist too, in multimedia and web development! For both of them, this was the second year of Conecta-joven experience.
A interesting short meeting about gender and ICT
The second day we met Laia and Marta to explain a little more about activities of Interface3 and talk about good practices in teaching ICT to women. I explain the difference between gender gap in “using ICT” and “choosing ICT as a profession”: in Interace3 we have some expertise in both the topics. For Esplai activities it was more interesting to exchange some tips about gender gap in utilization of ICT. Since 70% of “facilitators” and “young trainers” are actually women and girls, according to the positive feed-back of women (trainees) and the pedagogic oriented attitude of the young lady seen at work in La Formiga, I think that Esplai and their partner are doing a very good job with women concerning the utilization of ICT. This first exchange about gender ad ICT has been a good base for further projects in the future!
During the discussion on gender, we tried to answer to Marta about her question: “Do you have at Interface3, a specific pedagogical approach' specifically ' applied to women ...?
I gave as example the project 'Cybersenso' developed by Interface3, which offers 30 women training modules in 3 stages, in the evolutionary difficulty: 'starting with an initiation to various aspects of ICT (hardware, keyuser, office, internet, web platform 2 'barter goods & services', montage of images, etc ...), then we take the same training contents but at a higher level ; eventually to work towards to ‘control’ the computer; the installation from A to Z of a computer which is offered at the end of the project, to complete the installation this time a computer room connected to the Web & Networking; and finally, the pedagogical approach needed to run workshops for audiences tics beginners , who consisted of a preparation of 'mini-workshops' on the content covered , to reach the animation 'in real' of a workshop lasting 3 hours to women who are beginners in computing.
All to say that finally, the training content is the same whether for an audience of women, men or mixed; the teaching approach and the establishment of training is adapted to women: for example, schedules that suit them , aside we note that allowing women to train 'between women ', their' open 'to new horizons, they can ask any questions, they would probably not dare ask in a mixed group; training go directly to the essential, apply directly from their examples that speak to them, the examples given in the course are' close 'to their interests( a worksheet on the family spent most certainly talk to them a record of scores of Belgian football ... a database on the host site for school children, their 'talk' more than a ‘db ‘ on the ' rims automotive dealers' )...The courses are also 'practico-practical', everything is' examples', 'exercises', … it starts easily, even if they think initially it's difficult and not done for them,' hands on '! www.interface3.be
The project Cybersoda ... a broad program! :
I could tell Laya & Marta for weeks, but time is running out!
I tried to 'abstract' draft Cybersoda explaining the different stages of its development (its short history, the suitcase, teacher training, implementation in schools ...) - Following the history, I presented Plan Tool Kit, which allows a glance 'view of its content, structure and opportunities for reading (data & cd live cd). Then it was time to take a short tour in the world of Cybersoda, we look at the video testimonies of teachers before and after their training cybersoda, different results at workshops with children and adults ; were discovered 'directory' where all the lecture notes & teaching aids necessary for teachers to arrange to turn one or more modules Cybersoda finally, in brief, Laya & marta have promised to 'take' time to discover all the riches of the suitcase! I told them I also Cybersoda ‘Farde’, which also includes Kit & the CD’s: data & Live cd, the site map, the most important printed sheets & lecture notes needed to monitor training-‘Cybersoda for Teachers’.
I look forward to their feedback and impressions. The course content and experiences to share with the project ‘Conecta joven’, ‘Cybersoda’ of teachers and their audiences, whether children or adults deserve to be known and shared!
Brief History Project Cybersoda:
>> (since 2001) (in the project Ada Women & ICT’) www.ada-online.be
The workshops' Cybersoda ": An initiation & exploration of computers, for young (e) s (from 6 to 18). A fun program to learn different aspects of IT and business related thereto. Five modules exploration of computer science are offered: Internet, hardware, web programming, image manipulation and creation of sites. www.ada-online.be/cybersoda
The Pedagogic SuitCase /Kit Cybersoda: A multimedia teaching tool developed on the basis of our actions in different contexts and techniques (Windows & Linux Plateformes), which reflects the formalization of content workshops realised. The Case Cybersoda is a teaching tool for anyone wanting to animate computer workshops with children and teenagers. Especially for teachers of primary and secondary, but also for educators, facilitators - outside school. Moreover, the content of teaching notes and lecture notes are easily adaptable to all audiences: young children to seniors, from young people.
The examples are given, the results obtained with this audience, in different contexts: it helps to 'relativize' the feeling that it’s too difficult ' to lead’ a workshop tic. We give them whatever is necessary to embark on this adventure and we say them:’we did, you can too!
Item kit: Consisting of an explanatory booklet and two CDs crammed with information. (1CD & Data 1LiveCD *). To preserve the spirit of exchange and collaboration of the suitcase Cybersoda, we took the party to adapt our tool to free software. The team Cybersoda proposes a selection of free software usable on any operating system that effectively the usual programs and discover applications such as publishing websites in html, image processing, web programming ...
The tool comes Cybersoda moreover as an * Live CD GNU / Linux that is a system that starts on your PC without installation. This is an opportunity to discover the world of open source software ...
The case is a teaching (theme & software) based on open source software, which provides for each training module all the tools necessary for the workshops: teaching aids and techniques, software selections, reflections on the subject, examples, exercises....
>> (From 2006)
Training in ‘Cybersoda-Instits’: Workshops that address the 5 modules of computer Cybersoda and use the training package; for teachers and any person who might lead a day of computer workshops with children and adolescents (e) s, in the context of primary or secondary schools, after-school workshops, school homework, ... The objective of training is to introduce these individuals to practice tools and provide them educational support and enable them to gain more autonomy from new technologies and to transmit that knowledge to their audiences.
The pilot project "Cybersoda-Instits" of 10 days of Pedagogical "Cybersoda" teachers (Instits & Profs) in implementing their learning in the classroom with their students, as part of an IT project within 5 schools funded by the French Community of Belgium
>> Two days 'intense', full of discoveries from the tour of Esplai & its projects, organization, financing, etc. ... the 'multilingual' debates about projects, technologies , pedagogic experiences with our respective publics ... through the ‘Chestnut Festival’ with the ‘Freaks, Monsters & co’, singing frogs at night, ... without forgetting your Welcome, thanks to all the team!