Using activity theory to explore 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 ‘ use of digital tools within their work with young people , the research focuses on where digital tools support the UK youth work curriculum. It draws on both John Dewey’s pragmatism and Lev Vygotsky’s cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) , that of “knowledge as something that is accessed and developed in joint work on a potentially shared object of activity” (Ellis, 2010: 97), and that can be explained by exploring “the relationship between local activity by human agents in specific settings and the historical, culture-making processes that allow ideas to travel.”(Ellis, 2010: 97). Both Dewey and Vygotsky focus on the interface of human beings with their environment as mediated by the use of tools or instruments leading to the formation of knowledge and meaning. In this case, the tool is that of digital media, and the research takes place in a variety of youth work settings. Ten youth workers were chosen because they are already using digital media within their work.CHAT enables the researcher to look at the influences on a youth worker’s choice of digital tool, and how these might support or restrain the intended outputs and wider outcomes for young people. Often the tool is chosen for a specific purpose (output), but is influenced by how young people and others interpret its use or engage with it and digital tools often result in wider outcomes than originally planned. The research 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 and the inter-related systems and networks that they work within."
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012
    EventBERA Annual Conference 2012 - University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
    Duration: 4 Sept 20126 Sept 2012


    ConferenceBERA Annual Conference 2012
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Internet address


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