ERASMUS+ Project – Virtual Youth Work

Tipperary Regional Youth Services has received formal notification that the ERASMUS+ project submitted under “Strategic Partnership for Youth” has been awarded in excess of €300,000. This is one of the largest awards within this programme and is scheduled to begin in Jan 2016 and will complete in August 2018. Limerick Institute of Technology has been a key partner in the design of the project and is one of the four project partners along with TRYS, “The Association of Active Youths” in Florina, Greece and “Momentum World” a youth social enterprise based in London.

From an LIT perspective this project is a good example of community engagement, it has an obvious international dimension being delivered in 3 languages with at least 6 international students registering on an LIT programme. The project involve new and innovative course development in response to industry and integrates research funded through GRO within the project. There are conferences and publication opportunities as well as a requirement that the outputs from the project are actively promoted nationally and internationally.

Overview of the Project.

Collaboration in Youthwork is the central theme in this project. There are three contexts in with this collaboration will take place.

  • Collaboration within a team of young people working on a project.
  • Collaboration between three groups of young people across three different countries.
  • Transnational collaboration between three Youthwork organisations.

The collaboration will be structured around a project which will engage the participants in exploring, articulating and sharing their understanding and analysis of critical social issues facing their communities. Interactive technology such as Social media and Games based platforms will be used as a tool for engaging young people and promoting such collaboration. There are four partner organisations, three youth groups in Ireland, England and Greece and The Limerick Institute of Technology. The project will begin in January 2016 and finish in August 2018.

The use of Technology in this project

The project which will form the basis for the collaboration will be the construction of a “virtual town” on a multiuser collaborative construction/gaming platform (Minecraft, SIMS etc..). The young people will work in their geographies groups as well as across the three countries in order to design, build and locate the installations on the shared platform. Live video streaming, recorded clips, social media and a website will be used to communicate and record progress on the project as will the various interactive communication tools available within the collaborative construction/gaming platform.

“Virtual Youth Town”

The collaborative project will be to build a virtual town. While the broad basis of the project has been set, the mechanism by which it will be presented, facilitated and undertaken by the young people needs to be designed. It is proposed that this will be done using a game based interaction. The parameters, narrative, structure, mechanics, rules, rewards etc… of the game will need to be designed. However it is done the objective is that the young people learn about their communities and learn to collaboration within local and transnational teams using technology as a medium.

 Who Will be involved?

There will be three teams of 5-9 young people, one in each country. Each team will have two youth workers assigned as facilitators. There will also be a coordinator in each country. The role of the youth worker will be to bring together and guide the youth group in their collaborative tasks. The co-ordinator will ensure that the logistics of the project and the non project activities are attended to.

LIT will provide the training for the project and will document and research this as a potential method for engaging with youth work. This work will be undertaken by the Project Developer/Researcher. LIT will provide specialist training in Youth Work, Collaboration, Games Design, Interactive Web Based Technology. LIT will also provide technical support in Using Multimedia, Coding Game modifications.

As well as facilitating their youth groups, the English partners will have responsibility for developing the project website and the Greeks will translate the project into Greek and French. TRYS will co-ordinate and organised the project events.

Project Outputs for LIT

1      Training Programme– The six youth workers and three co-ordinators will participated in a blended learning training programme which will address three topics. Students will be registered at postgraduate diploma/masters level in LIT.

  • European Youth Work,
  • Collaboration in Youth Work,
  • The use of Technology in Youth work.

There will be nine 2daylong seminars as part of this training. There will also be webinars, and other blended learning methods used to achieve the input and support needed for students to achieve the required standard. This training will be open to other participants and the National Youth Council will be publishing a report in March recommending that such training be provided to the youth sector. This course will need to be designed and developed for the enrolment of students in Sep 2016.

  1. Research and Published Guidelines-Based on the research from the project and the findings of the evaluation, LIT will lead on the publication of guidelines for the use of technology in Youthwork. This will be led by our GRO Bursary Student.
  2. Conferences – LIT will be a key partner in facilitating two major conferences on Technology enhanced Youth Work (Games for Social Change), the first in November 2016 (national) and the second in June 2018 (international).

What Next?

TRYS will be compiling a project plan, contract and MOU in the coming week to be signed by the partners. There will be a training seminar (topics: games, youthwork, collaboration) and project meeting in Dublin at the end of February. Paul Keating has been allocated 1.7 days per week to the project for the coming semester. Natasha Guiry (GRO student) will be undertaking research on the project. We will need to source expert input on Multimedia and Games Design (37 days), Web Design and Game Modification (31 days) and Technical support on Multimedia and Games (37 days). There are also 110 training days allocated to the project as well as a travel and administration budget.