Jen Hensan from TechSpace, ESB’s Generation Tomorrow partner, explains why now is a pivotal moment to get young people involved in the digital world
In education, the term “I am not very techie” does not wash anymore, and especially now during this current pandemic. Young people and educators are separated from friends, family and their ‘normal’ education setting. For a learner to stay connected, it is no longer a choice but a necessity to become involved in digital education and digital youth work.
In a vast online world of possibilities, our courage to take on new things can be limited by a common mistrust of our own abilities. Digital and creator innovators Tom and David Kelley speak about the ‘Courage to Leap’ as an essential step to enhance work and confidence through creativity. Although, as an educator you might see inspiring ideas online, the ability to transfer this inspiration into your youth work or teaching practice requires a mindset that allows you to try it out. “To make the leap from inspiration to action, small successes are key,” as argued by David and Tom Kelley.
The TechSpace Team at Camara Ireland focus on developing a confidence boosting learning environment for educators. Through training, resources and peer support we demystify STEAM and technologies to inspire the future.
Why is this important? One reason is highlighted in a recent study conducted by Camara Ireland and Youth Work Ireland. After speaking with leading Irish employers, including ESB, findings suggested that there is a “...skills shortage in Ireland, and globally, across all sectors particularly those requiring higher level digital competencies for roles such as data analysts, systems architects, and software engineers.” These are roles that should be accessible to everyone.
The digital skills gap exists for young people, but for educators, in this current climate, this skills gap can seem daunting and insurmountable at times. When schools and youth centres closed their doors in mid-March we began to hear the concerns of youth workers, teachers and volunteers across the country about how the young people were at risk of missing out. Many educators are lacking in the confidence to open up their youth engagement to the possibilities facilitated by technology.
TechSpace Start Up Training
Tracey Moore from Youth Work Ireland Midlands took part in a TechSpace Start Up training in 2018. She has since claimed the ESB TechSpace Educator of the year accolade at the ESB Creative Tech Fest event in 2019 for her work in supporting staff and volunteers across the Midlands to enhance their youth work practice. “There is no expert in this. We are all just doing our best, for myself and volunteers that are doing youth work right now, we are almost ready to submit a project for the ESB Creative Tech Fest Monthly Prize," says Tracey. "An artist that we were working with took part in the TechSpace training and has achieved so much as a youth worker. My job is to support staff and volunteers to run youth programmes."
"We have people at retirement age that are taking on learning through the TechSpace programme and learning for themselves and the young people they are working with. I have one volunteer who was really resistant at first to the idea of anything techie. He is now doing the online STEAM training sponsored by ESB with Camara Ireland and has proved that there are no age limitations to this kind of work. You mightn’t be a techie but that doesn’t mean you can't do it.”
Tracey took from the TechSpace Programme the fundamental skills needed to progress forward to develop her youth service. Working with early school leavers, Tracey has inspired her youth groups to create media and STEAM activities with a purpose. They have been working on instructional videos such as how to create a CV as well as a multitude of other step-by-step videos to help their peers develop their STEAM skills and media interaction.
By developing the way we deliver education with technology and increasing a young person's aspirations in a range of future paths, we will help them to flourish. With TechSpace at Camara Ireland, we are developing rapid responses to support educators to grasp the basics of STEAM education. This, in turn, provides the springboard to help young people create and invent with purpose. Although we cannot venture far physically right now, we invite you to journey into the exciting and creative world of 3D Design, the language of computer science or the simple workings of a circuit.