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We’ve Moved October 9, 2008

Posted by Jon Bounds in NBSE.
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The We Share Stuff Website is now up at wesharestuff.org, please come over and join us.

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Blog Action Day in Birmingham – a social media surgery for voluntary orgs. October 7, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in Call for help, Meeting, social media.
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Birmingham bloggers get involved in Blog Action Day. We’ll keep a track of ongoings and post any relevant stuff as and when.

Gmail As A Gateway October 1, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in Meeting, social media.
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I’m finding that the more meetings I have with interested groups or individuals, helps me define the We Share Stuff aims, provision and what not. An example is the meeting we had with Service Birmingham over at the Aston Pride Project. I was explaining how our service users would connect to our programme, be it a single blog or a range of Internet applications and how to do this simply and possibly, most effectively (thus far) was to sign up for an online email account such as Googlemail. As so many online applications now require an email address to use them, this would provide a gateway to all the online stuff that would be needed. Mike Farmer from Service B’ham picked up on that we were using an email account for this specific purpose and not for what email was originally intended for – communication by sending emails to one another.

I didn’t realise at first that we were doing this, but it’s all part of resourcing applications to meet the objectives. Over the past five years I’ve found myself using Internet resources for many more things than they were intended for. Another recent example would be the Birmingham created I So Wish. This little online application lets users enter their name and make a wish. Really, really simple. I added it my list of online resources in helping me identify possible Literacy issues with low IT skilled service users.

Since starting this project we set up a delicious account and began tagging applications that might be of benefit.  Always a work in progress but this will get included in the main We Share Stuff site as a shared resource.

Progress update September 27, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in NBSE, social media.
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A couple of things to update on. Firstly, the whole digital mentoring thing, found some earlier actions and debate on this issue, check out Dave Briggs stuff on this. Secondly, the taster sessions are starting to fill out. Looks likely that we’ll be working with some NEETs linking in to the young offenders, also the Aston Pride project has a number of groups including another NEET project linked into the Salvation Army, also some Parent groups and possibly some Adults for who English is a second language (ESOL). Furthermore, a disability group are keen for a session too. I hope to bring all these projects together with more details as and when we have them. The technical side of things is gaining momentum. The main site is up but no content there just yet, also Kev has completed the logo for the project so we can start branding some stuff. The OCN accreditation is in progress and we have secured some vital 3rd Sector Peer Mentoring alongside some training sessions and conferences booked. Plenty there! and i’ll elaborate on these over the next week or so.

Digital ignorance in powerful circles September 24, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in goverment, Informal learning, social media.
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The Government’s response to tackling the digital divide has them coming up with a new scheme offering “vouchers” to low-income families enabling them to get online at home. This scheme is costing £300 million. Providing these vouchers will not address the problem, let alone overcome it. We’ve said it before and we’ll keep on saying it until somebody with ears in the appropriate places, gets the message.

It’s not about the access….

The ongoing evolution of the Internet..and it will be all about the Internet, means that people who are still to use the technology or have limited experience, are being left behind at an unacceptable rate. There are some small movements to address the real issues here but it’s all too slow and lacking in volume to make a difference.

I chatted with Nick Booth last night about the situation and we drew similar conclusions about what should actually be happening with that money. It should be providing training, guidance, communication, advice etc delivered by the people with the right skills and attitude and in a manner that recognises that the way we learn will need to change to make the most of what the internet is becoming. These “digital mentors” can be the answer to an as yet fully realised situation.

Our project is in the throws of equipping these mentors with the kind of knowledge and skills that will benefit those excluded from the digital community. Hopefully before too long, those who make the decisions will be aware of what’s actually going on and who knows, maybe do something about it.

Project update September 16, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in NBSE.
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Been a bit busy on all fronts with those concerned with We Share Stuff. Apart from the holidays and new born babies, things are getting back on track. The project visited the UNLTD awards event in Manchester to officially recieve their award and certificate. A decent event where other award winners spoke about their projects and plenty of networking ensued.

We are currently finalising the identity and web presence for this stage of the project. Nothing too fancy, just something to give the project a face. We are hoping to have the site up and active at the beginning of October. We have also nearly completed our taster session module ready to roll out and we are currently looking at places in the North Birmingham area to deliver. The taster sessions are free (to both providers and clients) so if your establishment would like to participate, please get in touch.

We have also completed our policies and procedures to enable us to become OCN accredited and we are close to gaining centre status which means we can then look at delivering qualifications from the OCN portfolio.

Finally, there is plenty of “behind the scenes work” more info of which, will get blogged in due course. Including project sustainability, aims and objectives, technical stuff and loads more.

Consulting on revised standards for IT User skills August 28, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in goverment.
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E-Skills UK, the sector skills council for IT and Telecoms (!) have recently revised their standards and consultation is currently open until 26th Sept. Here’s a paragraph which came with the email:

Why is this so important?  Well, put simply, these Standards define the levels of IT skills relevant both for the workforce and those seeking employment. They underpin the majority of IT user qualifications and government funded IT User training.  Making them sufficiently comprehensive and ensuring they address the right skills means better IT skills for all and a better workforce for businesses.

Which is well and good….but…. My personal take on these standards and qualifications differ slightly to the direction E-skills are taking. I think there are problems with these approaches to such standards. The traditional approaches cannot keep up to date with the rapidly evolving world of IT. I think a different approach is required. An approach which doesn’t see progression getting bogged down with fussing over whether a user is competent at “planning and reviewing their use of predefined or commonly used IT tools for work activities most of which are complex and non-routine.” (taken from the IPU Improving productivity using IT, level 3). When the outcomes are so restricted and rarely allow for flexibility, users invariably see the task simply as that.. a task. They don’t question why or look at other options, and most importantly, they don’t follow their own routes and start using IT for their own goals. Such standards and qualifications restrict, they don’t allow freedom.. and they way the whole IT thing is changing so quickly, that freedom is essential to make the most out what’s going on today and in the future.

IT, and more specifically, the Internet, is fast evolving into a tool that seems to be transcending the shackles for standardisation and qualification, or perhaps it needs a different approach, possibly a more holistic approach, to recognise the skills gained.

There’s a lot of chat about the “digital divide” and so long as users continue to be assessed for being competent by demonstrating they can: ” Use correct procedures to start and shutdown an IT system” [UIS1:1.1] will only help deepen that divide.

Start-up grant success August 20, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in Social Enterprise.
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Just a quick post to mention that our bid for a startup grant from UNLTD (as a social entrepreneur) was successful and we now have funding in place to deliver the taster sessions leading up to 2009. Many thanks to Tony Clabby, our development manager and the rest of the UNLTD staff for recognising the potential of our project and giving us this opportunity to get things moving swiftly.

Sector backs Government plans for a streamlined skills and education system July 31, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in goverment.
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Plans to give local authorities more say over the education of young people and to streamline the adult skills system have received broad support, Bill Rammell and Jim Knight announced today.

N/OCN centre recognition July 31, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in beginnings, Social Enterprise.
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In order to deliver any N/OCN unit or combination of units a provider has to become a “Recognised Centre”. Now, as yet, the project is not currently looking at becoming a “centre” as such, as we plan to deliver our training using existing providers. Just wanted to make the point that the organisation is looking to become recognised with OCR and there is not currently a physical “centre”. Anyway, with that in mind, here’s the process map of what we need to do. I have looked on the OCN sites for a link to the actual application forms but no joy as yet. It would of been useful to blog all of the requirements. For now, just the map and if we come across the forms, I’ll get it linked. No doubt, i’ll be blogging about the process anyway.