Pilots, goals and activities

SHMU set up and ran four Incluso pilots. Two of these pilots were part of SHMU projects run by SHMU staff, and two were in non-SHMU projects. These were research pilots and they were selected because they offered a range of settings. Read more about each pilot below.

 

Pilot descriptions

1. Youth Radio Project
This group consists of around 14 young males and females aged between 12 and 17 years old. They are all actively involved as volunteers with SHMU and the Youth Radio Project (YRP) in which they produce and present live speech and music for three hours every Saturday morning and 1 hour each weekday afternoon on SHMUFM. This is Aberdeen’s only full-time FM community radio station.

The pilot began on 3rd June 2009 and ended on 15th May 2010, but the YRP staff are still running the application. Ning will be replaced by an alternative social network with similar functionality. (NOTE: Ning was a free application at the start of the pilot, but was due to adopt a paid-for model in July 2010.

Most YRP members had some computer experience and were familiar with the use of social networks and other social software. The YRP itself had a Bebo page, but that was not used so much – there certainly was no coordinated management of the site, who could join, what information was published and so on. All YRP members had access to a computer with internet connection at home – this was not the case some of the other pilots run by SHMU.

We used the Big Picture to select appropriate outcomes for this pilot and by which the broader Incluso objectives would be judged. A number of activities were implemented in order to engage the young people and help the Incluso team determine whether outcomes were being met. The outcomes and some associated activities are as follows:

  • Improve Communication Skills (getting young people to participate in online discussions, to form opinions in their comments to other people, to initiate conversation which could be carried on in offline settings)
  • Promote Active Citizenship (Weekly quizzes about issues which were relevant to YRP broadcast radio shows (eg. What's the address of the Aberdeen Volunteer Service?), research and feedback opportunities about interviewees for radio programmes (interviewees often were from positions within agencies or local authorities))

Within the Incluso pilot, YRP members got a parent or guardian to sign their consent form and then they signed up to the Ning site we created for them. After brief and basic training in customization activities they were then encouraged to explore the site themselves. The site’s use evolved over time: it began as a fun social network, and then within months it became the means by which YRP staff and young people communicate with one another. Its primary use now is for YRP staff to give details of programme schedules, research topics, background about interviewees, and for young people to consult on those issues and ask for advice regarding their programmes. Young people also now add their programme evaluations to the site. The aim is to go for a paperless workflow for the YRP broadcast administration.

 

2. SHMUTRAIN
SHMUTRAIN offers a unique employability and skills development programme to residents from Aberdeen city’s seven regeneration areas: Cummings Park, Middlefield, Northfield, Seaton, Tillydrone, Torry and Woodside. The 12-week training courses provides one-to-one and group support for training in film, radio, music and graphic design.

    * Early Interventions: 14-16 year olds who show early indications of not having a positive post-school destination
    * Positive Transitions: 16-19 year olds who are not in employment, education or training
    * SHMUWORKS: 19+ year olds who are not in employment

Throughout the courses trainees are given support in developing employability skills (CV’s, interview skills, communication & confidence building, ICT, team work), volunteering opportunities, work placements and accredited learning. The SHMUTRAIN members had a range of ICT skills, ranging from very skilled to little to zero knowledge of computers. Only 3 out of the five had access to a computer with internet access at home.

The Incluso pilot was implemented in the July-September 2009 Positive Transitions course (for 16-19 year olds) – it ran between 3rd July and ended on 2nd October 2009. The five members of the course were required to sign consent forms (they did that themselves because they were over 16), then invited to join the social network we created for them.

In a similar way with the YRP we used the Big Picture to select outcomes for this pilot. Activities were implemented in order to engage the young people and help the Incluso team determine whether outcomes were being met. The outcomes and some associated activities are as follows:

  • Improve Communication Skills (getting young people to participate in online discussions, to form opinions in their comments to other people, to initiate conversation which could be carried on in offline settings)
  • Promote Digital Inclusion (all work on computers contributed to developing the skills of the participants, including customiising profiles, working with email, commenting, discussions and creating groups, how to research for specific tasks on the internet, and how to use online applications for tasks such as photo image preparation, video editing)

We used the Ning social network application. They were given intensive ICT work of between 2 and 3 hours per week for the first month, involving general use of computers, search and research techniques and use of online applications (photo editing etc). At the same time they were given instruction on the use of the Ning application, involving customization, commenting, discussion, using third party apps and creating groups.
 

3. Middlefield Youth Flat
The Middlefield Youth Flat (MYF) is the first pilot which was implemented in a group outside SHMU control. MYF is an independently-run drop in centre, but with funding from a range of sources (including the local authority). It provides services for 12-25 year olds in the Middlefield community of Aberdeen. The focus is on being a safe place for young people to meet friends in an atmosphere regulated by staff, rather than being a centre offering set times for formal group work activities.

For the MYF pilot we set up a Ning social network site, and ran it for 6 months between 3rd August, 2009 and 2nd February 2010. The bulk of site members joined over the period of two weeks after launch. An Incluso team member, based at SHMU, attended MYF for between 2 and 5 hours each week during which time they built relationships with the young people and attempted to engage with them online.

In total 19 young people signed up and joined the social network we created for them using the Ning platform. Of that number 6 did not use the site at all after first signing up, and of the remaining 13, only 6 of them (all females in the age range 11-14 years) became regular users.

Once again we used the Big Picture to select outcomes for the pilot. Activities were implemented in order to engage the young people and help the Incluso team determine whether outcomes were being met. The outcomes and some associated activities are as follows:

  • Improve Communication Skills (getting young people to participate in online discussions, to form opinions in their comments to other people, to initiate conversation which could be carried on in offline settings)
  • Foster Social Relations (we focused on activities which encouraged young people to communicate constructively with one another - for making arrangementsabout activities (eg. organising a puppet show) or asking questions (stimulating conversation through which participants found out about one another and staff) or expressing opinions (telling others about themselves through their profiles, commenting on pictures and videos)

We learned a huge amount about young people, social media applications and engagement through this pilot. One key reason for this learning curve was that the centre was not under the management of SHMU and so the attitudes and motivations of MYF staff had to be taken into account far more. Also, the importance of management buy-in, of staff training and motivation and of young people engagement were learning factors, too.

 

4. Tilly Youth Project
Tilly Youth Project (TYP) is a youth centre for 12-19 year olds who live or go to school in the Tillydrone area of Aberdeen. SHMU’s Incluso coordinator launched the pilot on 5th February 2010 and ran until the end of the Incluso research phase on 15th May 2010. The TYP management believes in the potential of social media to engage with young people and so is continuing with the Ning platform, to be replaced by an alternative social media-type application in July 2010.

TYP occupies a large building in Tillydrone and about 60 young people use it regularly over a month. It offers structured group sessions for boys and girls, a music group, cooking and lifestyle, arts and crafts, and others.

Again, we used the Big Picture to select outcomes for this pilot. Activities were implemented in order to engage the young people and help the Incluso team determine whether outcomes were being met. The outcomes and some associated activities are as follows:

  • Improve Communication Skills (getting young people to participate in online discussions, to form opinions in their comments to other people, to initiate conversation which could be carried on in offline settings)
  • Foster Social Relations (we focused on activities which encouraged young people to communicate constructively with one another - for asking questions and stimulating conversation through which participants found out about one another and staff, or expressing opinions by telling others about themselves through their profiles, commenting on pictures and videos)

The site was loaded with content (photos, videos, groups, information, profiles etc) and staff began communicating with young people. The Incluso assistant worked at TYP at lunchtimes and during some evenings, 3 or 4 days a week. Much of the time was spent building relationships and promoting the functions and purpose of the site to the young people.