Support media competence by running a Christmas card competition

  • Goal

Social software platforms often offer built-in tools for basic image editing which are easy to use and enable the user to quickly produce nice-looking images. While young people show great competence and ideas in using these tools, the basic functionality, however, can limit creative potential.
One of the Incluso goals was to facilitate digital inclusion. Therefore, the action described aims at supporting media competence, giving the youngsters an understanding of Open Source applications as well as proprietary software and strengthening ICT skills. As a secondary effect the action will also contribute to fostering social relations. This action was implemented in all three youth centres of the Austrian pilot.

  • Activity

The activity chosen to work towards these goals in Vienna was running a Christmas card competition. Two pictures, fitting for the topic, were provided by youth workers and put on the Netlog site group for download. Additionally, the youngsters were invited to find at least one other picture either on the Internet or by taking a photo with mobile phone or camera.
The task set for the youngsters was to use image editing software and create a Christmas card from the pictures and other sources they wanted to use. As an incentive, a prize fitting to the topic was offered and the cards created could be used as an individual Christmas greeting to family and friends. It was planned that a neutral person with expert knowledge (eg. designer, graphic artist etc) should review the submitted cards. Additionally, the youngsters from the pilot were invited to use the rating functionality of the Netlog group.
The youth workers presented several software tools to the youngsters; special focus was given to Open Source software. Links to software and some possible sources of pictures were put on the Netlog site as were contacts for online and offline support. A forum on Netlog for exchange of information between the participants was created, too.

  • Tools and resources

Several online tools were used during the activity, mainly Netlog for the forum, surveys and group. In most cases the chat functionality of Netlog and MSN was used for communication between youth workers and youngsters.
The list of image editing software presented to the youngsters included Gimp, PaintShop Pro (test version), Photoshop and Indesign. The latter two are available as commercial versions in the youth centres only.
Each youngster needs between 30 to 60 minutes of individual contact for explanations and instructions (only if the youngster wants it, of course). The youth workers need pre-existing knowledge and/or some time to gain knowledge about the software. A few resources are necessary for the person who reviews the cards. One very important point is that the youth workers need undisturbed computer access in the youth centre.

  • Results and evaluation

This activity was not really successful. The young people did not show a lot of interest. One reason is some of the tools have weaknesses in their functionality (there was some difficulty downloading pictures on the social software platform). This shows that a trial run might be a good idea. The pre-Christmas period usually is a really busy one for them, and some individuals had an internet ban at home, too. Also, a different topic may have been more successful. A considerable number of youngsters in the VJZ youth centres are Muslim or think such things rather ‘uncool’ and so do not have a real use for a Christmas card. A better idea would have been some sort of self portrait that could be used for their online profile, for example.
The youth workers also overestimated the ICT abilities of the youngsters. There is quite a difference between them saying “Yes, we know how to do this,” and having them do something for real and losing face over not being able to do it.