Thanks to Mark Morris for this guest post on some of the work that he’s been doing in raising aspirations and building understanding of higher education using vlogging and tweeting…
Students from three schools in Bridgwater, Somerset participated in a two day residential event at Keele University on July 7th and 8th that was put together by Aimhigher and Keelelink in collaboration with local careers company Connect South West and some support from Somerset County Council.
Students were to experience a taster of life at Keele University and share their experience in real time via Twitter at #aiming4more whilst also capturing thoughts on a video blog (vlogging) to view at a later time.
We wanted to capture students experiences during their formation of impressions and views rather than use the traditional methods of writing them up. We had an opportunity to trial this idea at a residential AimHigher event. Our intention was to film a video blog to develop as a resource and to have the students tweet about their experiences and how the event was making them think or feel differently.
The value in using social media for an event like this is in community building, connecting young people who share similar interests and getting them to exchange ideas and thoughts in an engaging way that they are familiar with. The students were encouraged to share links and other information relevant to what they were learning on the taster using the #aiming4more twitter feed.
Thoughts and reflections
Comments from the AimHigher Coordinator
It is a really good way of capturing student views and impressions actually as they are developing, before these are ‘lost’
It prompts students to interpret their experiences and encourages them to form their own views and opinions about them
It promotes the involvement of all participants and is very interactive, including those students who might tend to be more naturally passive
It allows the students to describe their experiences in a more informal way, using their own language, compared to more structured approaches
It enables students to receive a quick personalised response to their comments and questions in ‘real time’ so they feel involved and part of the learning process
Potentially, it is an approach that young people are more familiar/comfortable with, rather than one which we, as adults, would feel to be best.
Capturing the moment and telling stories
This particular event took a community of individuals and placed them in an unfamiliar situation. As the multimedia assistant commented “The teachers gave great feedback about the AimHigher scheme and were constantly saying how good the experience was, how it was great that the students were staying overnight because actually the accommodation at university is half the shock.”
Rather than losing this experience, we were able to capture this on film.
“There was certainly a lot of positive feedback to camera after the two days before the coach trip back. The students enjoyed the variety of lectures, especially enjoyed the sports and felt that they do now want to go to university where they had previously been put off by the fees.”
This opportunity provided us with an experience of exploring careers work in a different way. It allowed us to try and capture the stories of young people experiencing a life changing event and to share that with a wider community as it is happening.
Building on this approach
There were many positives, but there were learning points.
The multi media involvement in this project was at a fairly late stage and certainly our experience emphasised the need for good organisation and communication with all parties concerned. This was particularly true when trying to adapt working practices that were geared to a traditional way of recording through log books, especially when the new approach involved greater reflection on the part of participants.
The project was heavily reliant on technology and at times this proved unreliable and led to difficulties in recording views.
Although many of the students used Twitter, we were working with students who were out of their usual environment and having to deal with a variety of new experiences and at times this could be overwhelming for them and this hindered capturing their views.
Comments from the Connect South West multimedia assistant on the challenge of capturing the students views:
“Had we had time I would have liked to meet the students in their normal school environment to explain our thoughts, get feedback and improve our plans. I think the students would have been more comfortable around me as well, and I could have picked out the students more willing to take part and worked on the students less willing to break down the barriers.”
“Students would talk to their teachers about what their thoughts were, but the teachers would only tell me this was happening over meal time in the evening – the moment had long since passed. I attempted to resolve this by organising some time with the student groups with their teachers to film. In some cases this went really well, the students opened up easily and were very casual on film.”
Would we do it again?
Yes. We saw this as very much an experiment and we were unsure how it would work. Both the AimHigher Coordinator and the multimedia assistant felt that although there were challenges, there was considerable value to using social media and video style blogging to record experiences relevant to careers work.
And for the views of the students – see the Tweet Feed at #aiming4more
To view a short video on the event see
Connect South West is an award winning provider of careers services and work experience and enterprise solutions with more than 35 years’ experience in the careers market. Further details on Connect South West are available on the web at www.connectsw.co.uk on Twitter #connectswciag
If you would like more details on this project please contact Mark Morris, Information & Marketing Manager, Connect South West on 01823 692506 firstname.lastname@example.org