INFORMATION ADVICE AND GUIDANCE
Report says that new technologies are impacting on guidance services so there must be greater alignment of these services with new technologies.
At the heart of developments in technology is the shift from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0. Characterised by blogs, wikis, tagging and social bookmarking, multimedia sharing, audio blogging, podcasting and RSS feeds, Web 2.0 has changed the way people interact and has profound implications, potentially, for the delivery of guidance. However a new report An investigation into the skills needed by Connexions Personal Advisers to develop internet-based guidance, by the Warwick Institute of Employment Research , sponsored by CfBT Education Trust, says that it has barely begun to impact on the way guidance services are delivered by Connexions. With the next generation technology (Web 3.0) already on the horizon, the urgent need is to begin to align new technologies with service delivery .
The report states ‘In the steady shift towards more use of internet based guidance, we should remember that with the exciting potential to improve services to young people, there also come challenges. Privacy and safety for young people is crucial and will become increasingly important. Additionally, the culture of self-sufficiency that has developed alongside the rapid growth in user (self-generated) content gives rise to the question of who, exactly, is the expert. In an era when every young person can access information on the web, what does this mean, exactly, for the role of the Connexions Personal Adviser?’
Among the reports ten recommendations was that ICT user skills and competencies should be integrated as central in both initial work-based and off-the-job training for guidance at the national level, accompanied by on-going continuing professional development (CPD), training and education programmes available to Connexions PAs and their managers. The authors add that Connexions organizations, developing these services, need to be clear about what, precisely, will be delivered in their particular operational context (e.g. text based; telephone-based; resource-based, a combination, etc.) and how this would link to centralised services. Internet-based guidance services should also be differentiated to reflect the patterns of use by different age groups of young people.
The report concludes that whilst the development of the skills, competencies and confidence of Connexions PAs may be a necessary pre-requisite for the introduction of effective internet-based guidance services, it will not be sufficient. The following are also essential, with the maximum impact likely to be achieved where there is strong integration of all elements:
• Clarity of objectives – which internet-based guidance services are to be delivered, by whom, to which groups of young people and for what purpose?
• Genuine commitment from senior management.
• Technological infrastructure that is fit for purpose.
• On-going, high quality technical support for PAs and their managers using internetbased services.
• High quality and timely training and staff development at both practitioner and management levels.
• A developmental approach to CPD, so that rapid advances in technology can be anticipated.
• Careful and on-going monitoring of service delivery in this area of practice.
• Regular evaluation of the impact of these services.