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Case study FreqOUT

For marginalised young people living in some of London’s most deprived communities, access to technology, education, skills development and employment can be hindered by barriers to learning, which may include low literacy levels; low numeracy skills; short attention spans;...

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Case study FreqOUT

  1. 1. CASE STUDY FreqOUT! by Clare CullenThis document is part of the overall European project LINKS-UP - Learning 2.0 for an InclusiveKnowledge Society – Understanding the Picture. Further case studies and project results can bedownloaded from the project website This work has been licensed under a Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author(s), and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
  2. 2. For marginalised young people living in some of London’s most deprived communities, access to technology, education, skills development and employment can be hindered by barriers to learning, which may include low literacy levels; low numeracy skills; short attention spans; unidentified learning disabilities; issues faced when living in care or leaving care; care commitments; domestic violence; alcohol misuse; drug abuse; finan- cial difficulties; homelessness; lack of male role models and lack of health education. Vital Regeneration community regeneration is an independent charity which aims to promote economic development through programmes in learning and skills, and em- ployability. One of their projects, FreqOUT!, is an initiative which focuses on the poten- tial of new technologies to enrich and empower communities. Case profile – FreqOUT in a nutshell FreqOUT! - Using emergent technologies and social media to help young people tell their storiesWebsite Active/running (2005 – 2010)Interviewed person Jenny Irish, Project Manager Managed by Vital Regeneration. Funding providers have includedFunded and promoted by… Westminster City Council, Arts Council, CityWest Homes, BT, NESTALocation of the Learning Activities Combination, community-based (informal) Marginalised young people (13-25 yrs), not in education, employ-Target group(s) ment or training (NEET), young ex-offenders and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups, refugees, immigrants.Number of users 541 (2005-2009)Educational Sector(s) Primary education, secondary educationCategory of the Learning Activities Non-formal, informal Social networking, media-sharing (YouTube, Vimeo), mobile tech-Web 2.0 technologies used... nology, blogs To give excluded young people a voice through the use of socialMethods to support inclusion technologies. To improve learning and employment prospects of young people. Short description and key characteristics FreqOUT! is an initiative which aims to help young people from marginalised groups overcome the barriers to learning by using emergent technologies and social media. The initiative works with influential artists on a project-by-project basis to provide engaging and innovative workshops which use technology creatively to engage disadvantaged 2
  3. 3. communities and sign-post them to learning and employment. The FreqOUT! vision is to push the boundaries of technology in order to: | Establish learning and enterprise opportunities for young people | Break down barriers between industry, communities and the arts | Improve social cohesion and quality of life | Explore new possibilities for the arts | Consult meaningfully with young people | Innovate public service delivery1 FreqOUT! targets young people aged 13-25 years old from marginalised groups in the local area: young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET), young people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups, ex-offenders, those at-risk of offending, refugees and immigrants. The initiative also helps young people be- low the age of 13 and adults. From 2005-2009, FreqOUT! has worked with 541 young people, which has increased from an initial 31 beneficiaries reached during the initiat- ive’s first year. Some of the projects have an intergenerational focus, bringing together socially excluded people of all ages in the community. FreqOUT! is based in Westminster and works with communities and initiatives in the local area. The initiative currently operates throughout London on a project-by-project basis working in some of the top 20% most deprived neighbourhoods nationally 2. So far, the project has focussed on the boroughs of Westminster, Hammersmith, Fulham, work- ing with partners including Marylebone Bangladeshi Society, Churchill Gardens Youth Group, the Cardinal Hume Centre (for homeless and temporary housed young people), the Centrepoint Charity, the Stowe Youth Centre, North Fulham New Deal for Com- munities. The project team have also worked on a national level through projects with BBC Blast. FreqOUT! is managed by Vital Regeneration, an independent charity working with de- prived communities in London, and partners such as City of Westminster Council, CityW- est Homes, corporate partners, such as Vertex, Capgemini and BT, as well as a number of new media artists. It is funded by City of Westminster Council and The John Lyons Char- ity, and by commissioning agencies such as The Science Museum, The National Portrait Gallery and North Fulham New Deal for Communities. Since 2007, funders have in- cluded Vertex, Capgemini, Paddington Development Trust, BBC Blast, Firstlight Movies and Watermans Arts. Initial funding for the project was obtained from the Arts Council in 2005. Dimension of learning and inclusion The learning and inclusion aims of the project are to reach out to marginalised youth and other socially excluded people in deprived communities across London and engage them in creative learning activities through the use of emergent technologies and social media. Using a mix of social networking tools and digital technologies, FreqOUT! sup- ports users in developing narratives of their experiences. The activities are mostly in-1 FreqOUT! Impact Report 2008 3
  4. 4. formal, but the project links to Learning Centres in Westminster and provides access to technology and computers. User-generated learning is also supported through work- shops. Some of the courses lead to bespoke, ‘light touch’ OCN and AQA accreditations, for example level 1 accreditations in ‘introduction to video cameras’ or ‘midi keyboard skills’. In total, 100+ accreditations have been achieved from 2005-093, which can be used by young people on their CVs and help them to identify their skills and creative strengths. Some of the barriers to learning faced by beneficiaries include: low levels of prior learn- ing, with low numeracy and literacy and ICT skills levels; short attention spans; unidenti- fied learning disabilities; issues faced when living in care or leaving care; care commit- ments; domestic violence; alcohol misuse; drug abuse; financial difficulties; homeless- ness; lack of male role models and lack of health education. At an individual level, evid- ence suggests that involvement in FreqOUT! projects can lead to improvements in ICT skills; soft-skills and hard-skills (self-esteem; confidence; planning; team-working; pub- lic-speaking; project-management); bridging to formal learning participation. The project has grown into a much more sustainable community-based regeneration ini- tiative from its initial roots, focusing on getting artists to work with the community. It has gained a reputation for proving that innovative things can be done in deprived com- munities. At present, anecdotal evidence suggests wider social impacts in terms of: re- ducing ‘silos’ between groups in estates, promoting greater respect and tolerance; rais- ing awareness of issues around things like crime; developing community networking; inter-generational learning; awareness of issues around crime. Innovative elements and key success factors From its beginnings, the FreqOUT! project has attempted to access and utilise both ex- isting and emergent technologies. In 2005, the initiative made use of an existing wire- less network implemented by Westminster City Council in 2005 originally intended to al- low street-based employees such as housing officers and traffic wardens to access the council’s server whilst not in-office. Vital Regeneration saw the potential in this techno- logy as a tool for learning, to provide marginalised young people with less traditional and more creative learning experiences.3 FreqOUT! Impact Report 2009 4
  5. 5. Figure 1: Image from LDA Transitions, a film made by young people without school placesThe initiative implements a series of specialised creative media and technology projectswhich most young people, regardless of their background, would not usually have ac-cess to, for example: mobile movie making; urban biomapping; sound recording; radiotransmitter building; film-making. Crucial to the success of these projects is contact withexperts in these fields, and the workshops are centred around the expertise of artistswho use emergent technologies, rather than just existing digital and social media. Thisdifferentiates the project from other similar initiatives and gives young people the op-portunity to work alongside creative professionals working in non-traditional fields.One of the key findings of FreqOUT!’s 2008 Impact Report states that providing youngpeople with specialist knowledge, such as skills in Web 2.0 technologies and advancedICT skills (e.g. editing skills in specialist programs such as Final Cut Pro), or other techno-logies such as GPS, helped to improve self-esteem and confidence in their learning abil-ity and helped them to overcome feelings of inadequacy in traditional subjects learnedat school.Alongside the practical work undertaken in FreqOUT! projects, using mobile phones;video cameras, MP3 players, Bluetooth and CCTV to tell their own stories, young peopleare also taught to use social media and technologies, uploading content onto the Fre-qOUT! website and other media-sharing sites, e.g. YouTube. The project team has foundthat this social media has given marginalised groups real power to articulate their opin-ions and experiences to a wider audience.Project findings also revealed that the use of social media and technology could enableyoung people who were confined to a particular geographic area (especially inner-cityyouths) to learn about communities outside of their area and encourage integration into 5
  6. 6. wider society. Equally, they could be used to demonstrate the everyday experience of these young people in their own community, as was illustrated through the GPS drawing project in which young people worked used GPS receivers to map their journeys around their own housing estate. This data was mapped onto Google Maps (see below) and also programmed into an animation program to create a visualisation of the project. Figure 2: Using GPS receivers to map journeys around the Churchill Gardens estate in Westminster The use of Web 2.0 in the project has mainly been to allow users to distribute their work. There is a FreqOUT! Facebook group to encourage networking amongst benefi- ciaries, Google Maps and GPS encourage users to get ‘out and about’, the Broadcast Ma- chine is an online, open-source platform used to disseminate film, audio and other me- dia that convey narratives about users lives, the FreqOUT! blog is also used to distribute work that has been produced and enable feedback and commentary on it. The focus of the initiative is using media creatively to get users to communicate their experiences and Web 2.0 is mainly used in a facilitative capacity to disseminate and review work. Vir- al marketing and social networking have been used to help raise the profile of the pro- ject, and which helped Vital Regeneration to secure funding from NESTA. Problems encountered and lessons learned Funding: One of the main problems for the initiative has been finding sustainable fund- ing, especially from sources that would support ‘exploratory’ educational work and would not “constrain learning potential through innovation” 4. The co-ordinators found that smaller funding streams (below £15,000) put pressure on staff resources and had a4 FreqOUT! Impact report 2008 6
  7. 7. negative impact on the effective delivery of learning aims, whereas larger fundingstreams (above £15,000) could facilitate learning and allow participants time to bondwith the project team.Recruitment and ‘buy-in’: Strict funding output targets also had significant impact on re-cruiting hard-to-reach groups, as the project team feel that longer intervention isneeded to reach these groups. The project team found that forming partnerships withexisting youth groups and outreach programmes could facilitate access to hard-to-reachyoung people. Young peoples’ ‘champions’, key support workers or mentors, were alsoinvaluable in engaging them and marketing the projects through one-to-one contact.The project also used lots of advertising campaigns to reach the target audience, al-though older people were reached more by word of mouth.Barriers to learning: Project staff have sometimes faced difficult challenges in helpingyoung people to overcome their barriers to learning. Strategies to overcome these barri-ers involved using differentiated teaching methods, using qualified and experiencedsupport staff and employing multiple session objectives at different levels.Demonstrating impacts: It has taken five years to collect enough relevant data todemonstrate the impacts of the initiative. Funding from NESTA enabled a systematicevaluation of the project to be undertaken in 2008 and 2009.Fragmentation: FreqOUT! involves lots of bespoke project, working with numerous dif-ferent artists and freelancers, project partners and funding sources. This has been diffi-cult to co-ordinate. The funding from NESTA enabled this fragmentation to be synthes-ised and the most successful projects to be mainstreamed.Technical: Lack of funding has meant a reliance on equipment that is often second-hand,outdated and subject to technical malfunction so there have been quite a few technicalissues which have hindered development on some projects. There is also a lack of tech-nical support to help users overcome these problems. 7
  8. 8. Collaborating institutions in LINKS-UP Institute for Innovation in Learning, Friedrich-Alex- ander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany Arcola Research LLP, London, United Kingdom eSociety Institute, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Hague, The Netherlands Servizi Didattici e Scientifici per l’Università di Firen- ze, Prato, Italy Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft, Salzburg, Austria European Distance and E-Learning Network (EDEN), Milton Keynes, United Kingdom 8

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For marginalised young people living in some of London’s most deprived communities, access to technology, education, skills development and employment can be hindered by barriers to learning, which may include low literacy levels; low numeracy skills; short attention spans;...


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