PARTICIPATORY JOURNALISM AND INFORMAL LEARNING: TECHNOLOGICAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE COMMUNITIES EMPOWERMENT

Web 2.0 and interactive social media have permeated all aspects of social and educational practices, transforming the ways in which we access information and produce user-generated content more easily. As a result, the range of online media practices has been significantly expanded.
In our hands we now have new tools for communication and information with enormous potential to develop lifelong learning. Technologies serves as socio-pedagogical tools that allow us to be informed, to create, reflect upon and manage collective intelligence.
The rise of participatory journalism is a unique example of these learning possibilities. Participatory journalism enables multiple voices to opening up new learning paths and offering opportunities for exchanging knowledge worldwide.
This is the main goal of the ISABEL project [1]: using ICT innovative practices such as the practice of participatory journalism as an informal learning environment and as a tool and a practice for empowerment of the groups and communities at social and territorial level. The project seeks for strengthening inter-personal and inter-cultural links, getting communities talking to each other and promoting personal/collective growth, empowering people to ensure that their voices are heard.
This paper describes opportunities to use Web 2.0 technologies as tools for enabling participatory journalism and for sharing the voice of local communities in learning empowerment. Experiecnces in using ICT innovative practices within the project, such as: Web TV, Blogging, Forum, Social Network… and how can benefiting several communities to inspire them towards a positive future.
In addition, the paper reflects upon the nature of social media and participatory processes that these digital tools provide at present –considering how the public sphere does not target these instruments or engage with them to the same degree.

[1] Reference of the Project: Interactive social media for integration, skills bartering, empowerment, informal learning (ISABEL).
Ref. 511858-2010-LLP-IT-KA3-KA3MP. European Commission. Lifelong Learning Programme.