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Classroom - Beginner Section

The WWW in International Youthwork - What is possible

  1. Intro
  2. How to use the internet for exchange organisations
    • 2.1. Intern use:
      1. Informationresources
      2. Communication
      3. Webplatform for members
      4. Internetclasses
      5. Online-Team
    • 2.2. Extern use:
      1. Public Relations
      2. Corporate Identity
      3. Fast flow of information
      4. Interaction with the “customer”
      5. Webcommunity
      6. Online-Team
  3. Summary
  4. 1. Intro

    The internet is in all mouth and grows like an explosion. It will become already in the near future a mass medium with a similar spreading as the telephone or the television. Already 490 Million humans will use by the end of 2002 world-wide the internet. The internet is an important communication and information medium. Everyone can place contents into the internet or only consume these. The Internet is interactive.
    The non-profit youthexchanges as organizations, who are operating world-wide, depend on good communication structures, also over far distances.
    The changed conditions with the public relations refer to the necessity for an internet use. Many of the volunteers that are working for these organizations have easy access to the internet by the university they are studying on. So they can actually use the internet for free.

    2. How to use the internet for exchange organizations

    2.1. Intern use:

    2.1.1. Informationresources

    The internet can be used as the fastest and cheapest source of up to date information. You just have to know where to search and find.
    Useful information can be found for cheap flights, trainschedules, literature, funding conditions, workshops, potential partnerprogramms, country information, news …

    2.1.2. Communication

    For an organizations that has their volunteers spread out all over the country, or even the world, it is pretty difficult to keep in touch and keep the whole thing going. Telephone is expensive and to post a letter and send it takes a while. But e-mail is cheap fast and easy to handle. Your e-mails are waiting for you and it doesn´t actually matter were on this planet you are, as long there is an internet access around.

    An expanded use of e-mail is a mailing list. A mailing list functions similarly as a letter distributor. Everyone can mail his important news to the e-mail address of the mailing list and automatically e-mail copies are made, which are further-sent to all persons that entered on the list. Very helpfully is a mailing list to spread around information fast and inexpensive. And it will save so much much postage.
    You can find a mailing list-service you can rely on under www.egroups.com
    Additionally the mailing list can be regarded as a base-democratic on-line exchange forum, a virtual market place, at which one meets, depends discussed and, comparably in certain way with the market place in the old Greece where a lot of discussion took place. Many possibilities exist only because of using the mailing list.
    and messageboards are additional features that can improve the communication between international youthworkers. They can be installed on a webplatform for members.

    2.1.3. Webplatform for members

    It is a good idea to build up a “members-only-area” beside the “open-public-webpage”. Every member can log in with a password and use the features. Possible features are:

    • messageboard
    • chat with regular meetings
    • infopapers that you can download
    • forms that are needed for funding
    • the ever updated telephonelist of exchangies and voluntary youthworkers,
    • concepts for seminars
    • a site that tells you what goes on in the organisation right now
    • information about seminars

    To improve the communication between the members will also lead to a grow of “groupfeeling”. You see that everyone is part of a whole big thing that is alive! This has a high motivation effect for the volunteers.

    2.1.4. Internetclasses

    I believe that the internet is not really used by many youthworkers yet. Still many people don´t accept the internet as a tool that will help them a lot with their work.
    Therefore the further training is connected with brainstorming and an experience extension, for which one can use the internet of everything. The " new media " may not be regarded as boring or as danger, but it also opens large possibilities for the non-profit-youthexchange-organizations. With the constantly increasing knowledge of the serviceability of the internet also the acceptance rises.

    2.1.5. Online-Team

    A web page with obsolete contents is bad. Nobody will consider the organisation is still in business, when the last update on the website has been two years ago.
    For regular updates and always current information it is necessary to have an on-line editorship. Many of the youthworkers can give text contributions (live-reports out of the exchangeyear, regulary information updates, updates of the country info sources..) somebody (webmaster) should be in charge for the technical care and the total structure (general impression, layout) and also the further development of the page. Better than one person is a team that works together very smooth.

    2.2. Extern use:

    2.2.1. Public Relations

    The web page is like the information brochures a sign of the organisation.
    The "customers" of a youthexchange-programm are potential hostfamilies, projects and exchange-students. This target group should be addressed by the web page.
    Often the webpage is the first contact of a person with the organisation, so the first impression should be a good one!
    An active advertisement is needed to promote the website in the internet, which goes beyond the mostly passive presentation of a webpage. For this an online editorship is necessary. The most important point is the constant updating of contents on the web page.
    Other organisations that draw a related target group all over the internet should know about the programm of your youthexchange.

    2.2.2. Corporate Identity

    A non-profit organisation has to promote itself under one label or one logo. That means people that look at the website will immediately recognize this individual organisation by the design.
    Flyers, letterhead and infobroschures, they all have to be of the same recognizable design. The internetadress and the e-mail-adress need to be on every paper, too.

    2.2.3. Fast flow of information

    With the help of a website the information flows faster to the person that is interested in the exchangeprogramm. It is a very easy and relativly inexpensive way to spread your information. The one who gets in contact to the organisation by an article, a flyer or a friend can allways check out the website for more detailed information. The access is easy and free of charge. The internet is a massmedium and it will be even more a massmedium in future.

    2.2.4. Interaction with the “customer”

    The internet is interactive! You can just get information, but also communicate. The more people use the website as a platform for communication, even more than for information, the site becomes alive. A " Web Community " develops from regular visitors, whose need for information will bind them together with other users that have similar interests and experiences. Users will come again and again to your website, when they know they will find everytime something new, like reports from exchangies that are right now part of the youthexchange, new people to chat or share experiences with.
    A “Web Community” grows very slow and it needs a lot of work of the “online-editorship”. A lot of personal resources are needed, but it will bind people together and keep them close to the exchange organisation.

    2.2.5. Online-Team

    Like for the “Members Area” of a website an online-editorship” is even more needed for the open-public area. The tasks for this online-team will be similar to the ones allready discribed under chapter 2.1.5..

    3. Summary

    In summary I would like to say that for an international youth-exchange-organisation the internet is a very powerful and effective tool for intern communication, public relations and information!