AN ACTION RESEARCH EXPERIENCE FOR DEVELOPING A SOCIAL-LEARNING NETWORK COMBINED WITH CHALLENGED-BASED LEARNING FOR EMPOWERING YOUTH AT RISK
In order to live in this globalized, complex and diverse world, it is essential that people become more critical beings to reflect continuously about the reality that wraps us and to develop awareness about it, then, to take position in front of it to take decisive actions in order to transform it. We believe it is crucial that youngsters should search and find their own answers to the current and future world challenges and conflicts, especially with the nowadays economical and social crisis in Europe and the serious situation of youngsters’ unemployment in Spain. The present paper is the result of four action-research cycles of evaluation and reflections with youngsters, teachers and experts for the development of a Virtual Learning Community (VLC) called “Kabua 2.0” that serves as a social-learning network for youth at risk in Catalonia.
The aim of the research project is fostering youngsters’ empowering processes through challenged-based learning in order to make them social active participants as well as critical citizens committed to the transformation and improvement of society. Inside Kabua 2.0, we pretend to foster them to make a critical reflection about the society in which the live to take position in front of it and, therefore, to led them to an active social, political and ethical participation in order to transform it. We want to promote in youngsters to become reflective and critical citizens, transformers of their reality, being conscious of their environment and of the impact that their actions have over society. In this sense, the name of the project, “Kabua” responds to its philosophy. It means “full moon” in Bété language from Ivory Coast, and reflects the idea that all youngsters have the potential and capabilities to reach their own full potential, and illuminate society with their own reflections and actions.
Our specific aims within the project are:
• To stimulate communication, opinions and active participation of youngsters within Kabua 2.0 and in some face to face encounters.
• To foster youngsters’ identity construction processes (virtual and real).
• To build and monitor engaging and challenging learning activities for diverse groups of youngsters (between 12-30 years old) through the development of roles and challenges that give them a sense of social responsibility and power for contributing in society.
• To provide on-line pedagogical support according to youngsters’ needs (scaffolding), as well as on-line support on 2.0 tools & media.
• To develop learning contents on social problems, social participation, ethics, politics, inter-cultural education, etc.
• To foster the creation of diverse kinds of 2.0 tools and media that give voice to youngsters’ ideas for participating actively in society.
Through action research, we have been able to answer the first research questions about how to empower youngsters with the support of media and technology. In this sense, the initial results of the research have let us to develop a first prototype of the VLC that is ready to put in action with a sample of various educational institutions, youngster’s organizations, and also with youngsters from informal contexts. We initially propose six challenges connected to youngsters’ interests and needs that are to be accomplished by them, individually or collaboratively.