Feedback and Evaluation

Besides the general Incluso Evaluation the pilot arranged an own evaluation session within the steering group. It is important to note that during (and before) the Incluso pilot project several activities with Social Network Sites were already going on and have a strong link with the Incluso pilot.
All involved centres already have had their own profile on the platform Netlog before; one centre additionally added a profile on Facebook during the pilot. Also almost all 15 youngsters have had their profile on Netlog before starting within the pilot. On the platform a "Netlog group" was created in order to support the communication within the pilot.
Every youth workers task was to accompany his five youngsters through the pilot and have regular contact (once a week at least) by different communicational means. Helping the youngsters in proper use of the netbook was essential: One of the netbooks had a virus disguised as anti-virus software installed. I showed the youngster how to use Internet search engines to find a solution. Finally instructions on how to remove the virus were found and the youngster was able to solve the problem using the found information. Another example was a youngster whose prepaid Internet volume was used up. I showed him what the expression WLAN means and how this technology works. The youngster used the information to find free WLAN access points around the area and what is more he also passed the information on to other youngsters who are not part of the Incluso project. This way he helped some of them to understand and make use of wireless accounts, a knowledge now used by those youngsters to access WLAN via mobile phones.”
From an “Open Youth work point of view there was high stability within the pilot youngsters. During the pilot period  only 3 out of 15 dropped out (about half time) and were replaced, 12 went through the whole year.
There were huge differences in the levels of usage of the netbook and intensity of contact and interest in the social software issue. It ranged from a youngster who gained high technical skills and finally was even able to upgrade the technical capacities of his netbook on his own to just use it for internet surfing. Contact ranged from several times a week to brakes of two or three weeks. The contact was mainly real, only in one centre it was mainly by MSN and/or phone.
Some interesting rather unexpected findings were made, too: At the beginning of the project it was planned to have close and regular contact with the youngsters, to help them with their individual problems and support them via social software platform. It was expected that it would not really matter if the youngsters frequently visited the centre or had a good face-to-face contact with the youth workers. As it turned out it was not always possible to continuously work with the youngsters on the online platform. While up to some years ago a ban on watching TV had been a common way of punishment nowadays this seems to be replaced more and more by a ban on using the Internet. Two of the youngsters from the pilot group were occasionally punished with an Internet Ban of up to three weeks which was quite an interruption of online work. Ongoing activities and work with those youngsters was possible only because they visited the youth centre a few times while the ban was active.”
Not only that the Computers in the youth centres helped a bit, of course the netbooks (in case they were protected from moms or dads access) thwarted parents educational approach in this issue.
Apart from the everyday work within the pilot, which was happening separately in each of the three centres two pilot-wide activities were prepared by the youth workers:
For the first activity all youngsters were asked to create a Christmas card using two given pictures and additional ones they could find on the Internet. For the second activity the youngsters were asked to create a PowerPoint (or the equivalent Open Source system) presentation presenting themselves that could be used for e.g. job applications.
As it turned out these two activities were not really successful. To a great extent this was due to the fact that both activities did not come from the youngsters themselves, an experience made throughout the whole INCLUSO project. Also, in both cases the abilities of the youngsters in working with standard software had been overestimated.
Activities that came either directly or indirectly from the youngsters or met their immediate needs were more successful. Image editing software that was not used during the Christmas card activity was widely used to improve profile pictures. The knowledge about free WLAN hotspots was not only used to access the Internet by the pilot youngsters but was also handed on to other kids in the youth centres.
The topic of privacy and of online profiles being uncontroversial was raised several times during the pilot and an increase in awareness can be noted.

Some youngsters made additional profiles on Facebook, where they appeared more “realistic” (e.g. using the real name,). Two other youngsters ended their activities on Netlog at all.