Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blogging Outreach Project

Participants at the 1st Blogging outreach workshop

I believe its time I write about the Blogging Outreach Project I had designed and am now looking forward to take it further.

Outreach is a term which means to reach out to those sections of people with something which originally wasn't there domain to begin with. By that meaning this whole project is wrongly nomenclatured. I am trying to reach out to the less privilaged, socially, economically, culturally and so on, with the concept of 'blogging' an amazing tool of new media which although is being used by some handful people belonging to an elite class, is actually meant to be used by the most ordinary. So it would be wrong to say that blogging is a domain which originally doesnt not belong to all and therefore outreach is required.

This has been for long in my mind. Such an amazing thing blogging and people hardly know about it. NGOs try to reach out to a larger number of beneficiaries, funders, supporters etc by mostly putting up information and writeups on their website but somehow that hardly leaves an impact. They can achieve better networking by blogging and other social networking sites.

Then there are students, young professionals who have an easy access to internet, they spend a considerable amount of time on the internet emailing, orkuting but that's bout it. It occured to me that they sure would take up blogging once they know about it.

I want to tell all of them how by blogging they can reach out to the largest global commune, the internet, in real time by just a push of a button without requiring fancy equipements or technical expertise and incurring almost no cost. The information delivered is first hand and untainted. So, the life and time and voice of a prostitute or an HIV+ person or a farmer or a destitute child can reach to the whole world whenever they feel like reaching out, even if they themselves are not blogging, but if a bunch of enthusiastic bloggers having the time and resource to blog and therefore does blog on their behalf.

While the thought was always on mind the project was actually designed when I heard about the Global Voices Online Summit 2006. It was encouraging to see that they were also trying to answer the same questions that I had in my mind. Over the past couple of weeks I, another friend Swagat who is a film maker and a great champion of new media and one of his students Kamakhya, a budding documentary film maker, we all worked towards the first outreach workshop which was successfully conducted with a group of students on 10th December 2006.

That's Swagat talking to the participants

Blogging outreach can be done with anybody and everybody from students, to civil society members, young professionals, faculty members at the college and university level, retired personell and so on. However the first workshop being a pilot workshop we had focused on students and civil society members.

As a first step of this project an interview sheet was prepared to assess the Student's accesibility and understandibilty of internet and secondly, their desirability to pick up blogging and do it for a cause. The interview sheet was also supposed to work as a filter to form a focus group of students who would really want to know more about blogging. However the responses to the interview was quite encouraging and we pretty much called all who responded to the workshop.

There were 10 students from 3 different educational background and Broadcast Journalism, Mass communication and Social Work.

The workshop was conducted in a Reliance Web World where all the students had access to a pc with internet. The workshop content has 3 major parts.
  1. Blogging: What is it all about? Why it is the most talked about new media in today's date. (Session taken by me)
  2. How to Start a Blog of Your own (Session taken by me, Tutorial was given on Blogger.com being one of the most simples)
  3. How can you integrate blogging with other social networking tools. (Session taken by Swagat)
At the end of the workshop the students were given the task of creating one collaborative blog where they promised they'd blog about their experience from various field activities. We intend to have one collaborative blog from each of these workshops which would help us follow up with the participants as to how are they utilising the learning and if they are disseminating or not.

The first workshop was just a pilot project. I intend to conduct a series of such workshop and want to make it a bigger project involving a considerable amount of funds. The expenses of this workshop was bore by all of us in our personal accounts.