Online Learning for Social Youth Workers

The training curriculum and the corresponding tools are the core of the project Social Web - Social Work. The success of the project depends on both the quality and the appropriateness of the training content and methods to the trainees needs. In consideration of the working situation of social workers - most of their daily working time they are not sitting in front of a computer screen but dealing directly with the target group of disadvantaged children and youths at risk - it was necessary to build the training approach on face-to-face courses. Training based mainly or even only on online learning and corresponding tools must fail to address the heterogeneous target group of social workers in the different partner countries.

Nonetheless complementary online learning is essential to motivate the social workers to include Internet usage in their daily work routines with vulnerable children and youths and deepen their freshly acquired knowledge from the face-to-face training through follow-up learning. Generally, the online learning units in Social Web - Social Work are based on the same curriculum as the training courses, but they pick up special pieces of content to improve, complement or repeat what has been learned during the one-day training session. Due to the flexible learning environment, social workers can learn whenever and wherever they want and find spare time. The only requirement for participation is a computer with Internet access.

For the development of the online learning units, the project consortium was delighted to establish a cooperation with the University of applied sciences Nordhausen, Germany. Under the supervision of the project coordinator, a seminar group of students in the Social Management Faculty created appropriate online learning units for the project together with their lecturer Anja Bachmann in the summer term 2013. The aim of the seminar was to develop online learning units and make them easy to use for social workers by including new media according to the needs of the target group and in line with actual practice. The students chose from different topics ranging from the understanding the online fascination of children and youths and the awareness raising for risks and threats on the Internet to the opportunities for prevention from potentially harmful contacts and risky online behaviour.

In advance, the students completed the same training like the social workers to become familiar with the basic content and emphasis of the project Social Web - Social Work.

After an introduction in the theoretical background for the conception of online learning units, the practical and creative part of the implementation started. The students worked in small groups using social web tools including comics, narrating and recording texts, developing knowledge tests and created learning units with the focus of designing the topics appealing and informative. For the conceptional phase of the seminar as well as for the technical implementation, the students were supported by the expertise of the university’s e-team.

The feedback of the students reveals that it was a wonderful opportunity for them to deal with the topic of new media within their study programme in the framework of an interdisciplinary project like Social Web - Social Work. Here are some of their statements:

  • "It is nice to develop something in the seminar which can be used afterwards and supports social workers in their work. At the same time, we got an insight into the opportunities of the “Social Web'' while creating the online learning units - and learned necessary tools to develop and apply them independently in our professional life, e.g. educational films."
  • "The cooperation with the project Social Web - Social Work was a huge challenge for us. The nicer is the sense of achievement at the end to have created something of my own and be able to show it."
  • "Let's be honest. A large part of the study consists in understanding course content and reproducing it in a written examination. The project Social Web - Social Work has enabled us students to take a look at the practice of project management and to work interdisciplinary."

The online learning units for the trainees will be provided in English and the national languages of the partner countries and are publicly available on the projects website. Just as the training curriculum and the accompanying materials and tools, the online learning units will be continuously adjusted and updated when necessary.

We are looking forward to see you online - risk a glance and try out some of the units to check your knowledge!


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