Using activity theory to explain how youth workers use digital media to meet curriculum outcomes

Jane Melvin

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    Due to a lack of current studies relating to youth workers ‘ using digital tools within their work (Davies, 2011) , the research focuses on the UK youth work curriculum, taking into account core values and underpinning philosophies such as empowerment, equality, participation and voluntary engagement.
    Drawing on Dewey’s pragmatism and Vygotsky’s cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) (Miettinen, 2006), that of “knowledge as something that is accessed and developed in joint work on a potentially shared object of activity” (Ellis, 2010: 97), the focus is on the interface of youth workers with young people as mediated (Vygotsky and Cole, 1978) by the use of tools or instruments (Dewey, 1926).
    The research looks at 8 English youth workers who are using digital media within their work. CHAT (Engestrom, 1987, Engestrom and Young, 2001) enables analysis of the choice of digital tool, and how these support or restrain the intended outputs and wider outcomes. Often the tool is chosen for a specific purpose (output), e.g. to publicise events, but is then influenced by how others interpret its use or engage with it. In this way, youth workers construct meaning with and for young people, facilitating wider outcomes than originally planned.
    The research does not promote specific tools or ways of working, nor states that digital media should be the tools of choice. It aims to contribute to current debate around the changing role of youth work, and to provide insight into the role of the digital youth worker.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012
    Event7th International Youth Work Conference - Strathclyde University, Glasgow, United Kingdom
    Duration: 28 Aug 201230 Sept 2012


    Conference7th International Youth Work Conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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