How YouthAction NI are continuing to offer OCN NI Youth Work Qualifications Online

YouthAction Northern Ireland is a membership based charity, with a 75 year history of working with young people to tackle inequalities in their lives; improve their life chances; inspire them as activists & contribute to flourishing communities in a peaceful society. We have regional offices in Armagh, Belfast, Enniskillen, Kilkeel, Newry & the North West. Our vision is that young people are happy, healthy & hopeful.

Since the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic, at YouthAction we have sought to develop alternative methods to continue delivering our front line Youth Work programmes & support to our members. It is our opinion that we need to keep connected with young people to ensure that they have some structure to their days while also remaining active through participating in developmental & accredited training programmes.

Prior to starting the delivery of any programme online, YouthAction developed new polices & amended old ones to ensure that safeguarding was paramount & in place before any delivery took place (i.e. Digital Youth Work Policy; Guidelines for working with young people online etc). This meant requesting consent from young people to be contacted online & to participate in programmes delivered through video conferencing platforms.

For accredited training such as the OCNNI Award and Certificate in Youth Work Level 1, 2 &, 3 we consulted the EQA from OCNNI to develop an online teaching and assessment strategy which includes:

  • Informing and gaining consent from learners that they will be part of an online learning process which will involve video, and that their image will be seen during this time. 
  • Developing ‘rules of engagement’ for learners to support them to use the online learning space appropriately 
  • Informing and gaining consent from learners that assessment meetings will be recorded for IQA and EQA purposes and that these will be viewed if selected for sampling. 
  • Developing a delivery approach which will consolidate and complete existing units prior to moving forward with the course. We will then deliver and assess 1 unit at a time to ensure all learners have the best opportunity to complete the course.

A few sessions of one course has been delivered using ZOOM. The Youth Workers agreed the date and time in advance & forwarded on the conference call ID code.  A contract was agreed & unit content was delivered in much the same way as a face to face training session. Young people were asked to use comment boxes to write down questions & answers that can be used as evidence for their portfolios. (How do we capture this evidence for portfolios? Don’t understand this bit? Can they print it off, or did they use this as a brainstorming space that they can they transfer into portfolios?)

The overall feeling from the young people that it was worthwhile & they benefited from taking part rather than coming back at a later date to complete the training. Some of their comments included:

“I am on the autism spectrum & found the session really enjoyable as I could do it from the comfort of my own home without feeling vulnerable to noise or smells”(Young Man).

“I liked the way we used the chats and the conversations gave everyone the chance to say something” (Young Woman).

“It really engaged everyone in the group” (Young Man).

“This is my first time using ZOOM so it’s all learning at the minute” (Young Woman).

Accredited training will continue to be delivered to young people & our member groups over the coming months. We will be exploring new online learning platforms and sharing best practice across the organisation as we all learn and adapt to this new mode of training.