Web Chat with Rural Youth
By Hazel Edwards
Web chatting via Skype is the norm for us. Ryan Kennedy and I co-wrote our 'f2m; the boy within" novel this way.
But a 3-way international chat with rural youth readers is different.
Librarian Phong Truong initiated our webchat so as to use technology to attract youth and provide access to counselling resources on youth issues such as gender.
Across the Tasman and across Skype, it was a 3-Way Webinar between Wellington Shire Gippsland Youth Council members (all under 20 years), co-author Ryan Kennedy in Wellington New Zealand and myself in Melbourne.
Did it work? Yes it did. But it had a few technical hitches. Despite the trial, where audio problems were resolved with a closer microphone relaying questions, getting the visuals working three ways on the "real" event was a challenge. And yes it was worthwhile!
Strengths of Webinar
- Role modelling by Ryan as young novelist writing first book from his own gender experience
- Demonstration of how "outside" authors could be accessed & how co-authors utilised electronic ways
- Good questions & candid answers
- Encouraged rural youth to utilise Internet when seeking answers to problems: relationships, gender or literary
- This area has a Youth Council &
the Deputy Youth Mayor participated.
- Network connection recommended over Wi-Fi
- Need to have a test session, especially for sound & reposition seating
- Prepare questions prior to the webinar
- Suggest audience identify themselves when asking questions
- Wear a bright coloured jacket to stand out from dark chairs
- Intimate group allow questions to be answered in full
- "Casual feel" atmosphere is conducive to open exchanges
- Since our YA novel subject matter of gender was controversial, it is helpful to have co-authors viewpoints from varied backgrounds & generations & access to their website resources such as YA guests blogs
- Prior reading of book & e-books are more easily accessible
- Several youth who were expected to contribute didn"t make it
- Technical issues with getting the visuals to work 3-way on Skype
- Phong prepared books, handouts & invited reps from youth groupings, but 10 am Saturday was bad time for techie support & those who play football.
- Questions answered: how to co-write & get published & e-book benefits. Gender questions included getting support in a rural area, Ryan"s personal experiences transitioning and media and librarian reactions to "f2m: the boy within".
- Social media has publicised the event more widely than just those who participate.
- Importance of access to co-author website resources of YA bloggers, book trailer & reviews
- Has a significant implication for cost-effective access to an international author in a rural area.
- The Shire Council will webchat future councillor meetings.
Our chat overcame geographical and a few other barriers.
2009 ASA Medal
2012 National Year of Reading Ambassador
Resources and links for "f2m: the boy within"
EBook Versions: Kindle edition on Amazon.com & Readings booki.sh ebooks
Awards & Recognitions: Included in White Ravens 2011