At the 4th annual IDEA Exchange, held this weekend in London, young people from more than 20 countries gathered to learn from each other’s successes in the use of social media and new technologies. Young people from Myanmar explained how social media helped them rebuild villages after a cyclone devastated part of their country. Belarusians are creating groundbreaking interactive magazines that give local youth a big voice. Debate experts shared how they hope new online tools will aid discussion.
In May 2008, a cyclone ripped through the Irrawaddy Delta in Myanmar, killing more than 100,000 people. The survivors of the storm were left homeless. An Exchange presenter from Myanmar quit his job after the storm to visit the delta and begin rebuilding.
In a country where the Internet is heavily censored and bloggers can be jailed for reporting news from Myanmar, he bravely began a blog. He used the blog to tell survivors’ stories, chronicle his volunteers’ rebuilding efforts, and to fundraise. His group collected $50,000, with which he and his volunteers built 200 “Budget Huts.”
Presenter Christina Karchevskaya works for 34mag.net, an innovative, interactive magazine with an underground-style distribution model. The magazine is written for and by the youth of Belarus, and designed to encourage young people to think, then make a choice.
Because many Belarusians don’t have fast Internet connections, 34mag is distributed on compact disc. Each issue is free, and promoted by word of mouth. The magazine’s staff of Flash experts, multilingual writers and web developers load each issue with clever and timely animation, articles, podcasts, slideshows, comics and video. Some issues are available at 34mag.net.
Neill Harvey-Smith, WUDC Chief Adjudicator and judge for the 2009 World Online Debate Championships, has a great idea to help debate teams all over the world gain expert opinions and advice. Smith wants to create an online tool that would allow any team to submit a debate video for adjudication by an expert. After submitting your video, an expert judge would review your video and type comments and suggestions, attaching them to various points in the debate. Next, your team would be able to go through the video and read feedback.
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Debatewise’s David Crane raved about Google Wave, which he hopes will allow for live debates. The application is still in beta, but is expected to become the new mode of live online social interaction. Crane has implemented Wave for the Global Youth Panel, which was organized to give debaters an opportunity to have their say on what happens at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
Members will debate online about issues as they arise, and other members will vote on the points that have been made. The results will be released to the press as an indication of what young people around the world think of decisions made at the conference.
For more information on other Exchange presentations, visit the Exchange site. Videos will be posted shortly.
The IDEA Exchange, hosted by IDEA-Netherlands in a different country each year, is a form of educational conference focusing on debate, debate and civic education, youth projects and innovative teaching and participation methodologies. IDEA organized its first Exchange in November 2006 in Prague, November 2007 in Kaunas, December 2008 in Amsterdam.
The Exchange takes the Unconference/Barcamp approach, which in essence means there’s no schedule set beforehand. Instead, attendees arrive and write their name and presentation details on a whiteboard indicating the time and the room they’ll be presenting in. The idea is one of letting the conference be formed by everyone who attends rather than by the organizers themselves.