Field Notes – Pontydysgu
As Pontydysgu is active in both Spain and Wales we were able to run the workshops localised for both countries.
In Wales we worked with a small intergenerational group who were already familiar with each other through local community projects in Pontypridd. Although they were online rather than face to face we attempted to recreate a blended style to the sessions by starting off with a closed introductory activity in Zoom. We then opened up a facebook live channel and recorded the main presentation with communication with the smaller group via the Zoom chat as well as the public chat to include the wider audience. Following the presentation and explanation of the task, the live section was closed and the smaller Zoom resumed allowing us to discuss the activity and talk freely about the content of the presentation. We repeated this process for all four workshops and kept the activities live so that people could join asynchronously.
In Valencia the workshops proceeded via zoom but with no public live streamed section. The presentation slides were given in Spanish but the workshops themselves were multilingual with a mix of Spanish and English.
The Focus Groups
Although we had many willing volunteers in both Pontypridd and Valencia, it was difficult to arrange mutually agreeable timeslots. Eventually we managed to get family groups of younger and older people together via Whatsapp video call and over Zoom. We also managed to get two professionals in the same support bubble to agree to having their conversation transcribed. We had to rely on friends and relatives to fulfil the requirements of the focus groups but fortunately the issues ofSocial Media and Media Literacy are universal, whether you work in the field or not!
- I loved that a few weeks after the workshops, I was approached by an acquaintance who wanted to tell me that she had watched the workshops via facebook live – but not live – and thought that they would be useful to use in her school.
- The younger participants were keen to reel off the bullet points they had been taught in school during ‘Safer Internet Day’ but it was good to make them really question whether they followed their own advice.
- In Valencia, the intergenerational YouTube video tool sparked an ongoing lively debate in one family about the role of an influencer – I think they are still ‘discussing’ it to this day!
I found it difficult not to force my own political ideals when we were discussing propaganda and misinformation with participants. It was a good reminder that my own views are just that, views!
I had a very interesting discussion with members of another project who were looking at how people with polarised beliefs can find common ground, for example Brexit vs Remain. They used simple questions to prove that people are more alike than different.
They also challenged my concept of using Social Media for social good or for civic engagement by pointing out that not everyone wants their social media feed to save the planet, some people want escapism, some people are really only there for photos of cats and nice meals!
An older lady gave me a great top tip, she suggested creating a dedicated email account for banking and other sensitive transactions, that way you can automatically discount emails coming in to your main account which claim to be from banks or insurance companies.
“I can’t even trust my memory of what I just read, when I tell it to someone else I’ll change part of it.”
It would of course be in a world without a pandemic and we would travel to meet the other partners. The project team is great though, I think they’ve made the very best of a difficult situation.