Discover the Outcomes of the Digital Transformers Training Course

24 August 2023

SALTO Participation & Information (SALTO PI) and SALTO Inclusion & Diversity (SALTO ID) Resource Centres have combined their efforts to create a comprehensive training programme that will equip participants with the necessary skills and expertise to navigate the evolving landscape of youth work in the digital era. Digital Transformers brought together a group of passionate and dedicated youth workers who embarked on a transformative journey to embrace the digital revolution in their field. This journey included a residential training activity in Lithuania, a study visit in Armenia, and a series of online training and panel sessions over a period of seven months. The aims of this course were to increase awareness about different aspects of digital transformation in the youth field and consider inclusion, participation and diversity aspects in it, to increase the competences of youth workers in approaching digital transformation in youth work, to utilise the knowledge and experiences on digital transformation from diverse sectors and to explore the potential of cross-sectoral cooperation in enriching youth work. 


Meet the Digital Transformers

The training course was composed of 33 participants from 22 countries. More than 2,000 people watched the live online panels, which brought a wealth of knowledge and experiences to the table. Among the participants were youth workers, teachers, librarians and explorers who are actively engaged in working with young people and embrace digital transformation in their work. Together, they formed a dynamic and collaborative learning community, which fostered an atmosphere of continuous support and growth throughout the journey. Because of their commitment and the bonds formed during this transformative experience, the success of this project extended beyond the training programme and has to date led to the development of several cooperative projects on digital transformation. By embracing Digital Transformation and integrating it into their youth work activities, participants have helped to unlock new potential and broadened their impact on the lives of young people, in turn making them more aware about the positive and negative aspects of digitalisation.

The journey started when SALTO PI and SALTO ID came together with a mission to support National Agencies in determining how to harness the potential of digital transformation in the European youth field, the outcomes of which can be seen in the article Co-creation of youth-centric digital transformation and the report on Learning experiences of hybrid, blended and online mobilities. The initial aims were to bring together the different aspects of digital transformation in order to create safe and inclusive digital spaces, to search for interesting support and challenging narratives on technology and to address all the different aspects in order to increase the competences of youth workers in digital transformation in the youth work sphere. The training course for digital transformers was a practical outcome from this process. This helped to define more effectively how digital transformation impacts the realm of youth workers, in order for the Erasmus+ programme to produce more quality projects with the aim of planning and designing transformative activities. 

The programme of the course delved into six key aspects of digital transformation, with each one explored from various perspectives: digital transformation in the youth field, how to make digital transformation more inclusive and participatory, how digitalisation is impacting sustainability, how to maintain well-being when moving online, how to consider ethics and digital rights in these new environments, and what kind of emerging technologies could be used in youth work to increase engagement. The structure of the training programme ensured a holistic learning experience, with online panels serving as introductory sessions where experts shared their insights on each topic, and the trainings that followed providing in-depth explorations on how those concepts manifested in reality among the participants.


Unleashing the Power of Digital Transformation

The journey started with a panel discussion on Understanding Digital Transformation in the Youth Field, which aimed to deepen the participants’ understanding of digital transformation and its implications in the youth field. Experts and professionals Mateusz Hoffmann (DYPALL), Martin Fischer (GameOverHate), Dr Alicja Pawluczuk (researcher) and Dr Tomaž Deželan (University of Ljubljana) shared their knowledge on the topic and provided a comprehensive overview of the different aspects of digital transformation from both formal and non-formal education fields. The panel served as a platform that allowed participants to gain a holistic understanding of digital transformation and its potential impact on society, youth work, education and individuals.

The explorations of Digital Transformation continued at the 3-day training module in Lithuania, where participants delved into the different aspects of digital transformation and how it is perceived in their local youth work scene. The welcoming evening began with a learning experience in which the participants had the opportunity to become familiar with various digital tools, such as Scratch and VR glasses. Participants also had a chance to explore different activities like playing a virtual piano in teapots and creating an electrical circuit between small groups in order to play Pacman together. It was a taster of what kind of experiments can be undertaken using digital technologies and creativity and how they can be shown to young people through different gadgets and tools. The first day was all about getting to know each other and creating a common understanding of the topic. The end of the day was dedicated to digital storytelling, in which participants gathered around and shared their stories through creative digital means. 

The second day was dedicated to exploring digital transformation in practice in the National Library of Vilnius and the PATS SAU Makerspace, where young people can explore their creativity with equipment and expertise provided at the space. Digital transformers created robots that danced around the tables of the Makerspace and, more importantly, tried out digital transformation in practice. The afternoon was dedicated to diving into the competences required to support young people in digital transformation – participants analysed the competence model and reflected on the learning required. The day continued with an Actionbound exploration of Vilnius where participants were expected to perform different challenges around the city while being guided around with an app. During this exercise, they visited the Ministry of Innovations, The Energy and Technology Museum, Pixeia Vilnius Smart Store and many more digitally creative spaces.

The third day was dedicated to gathering and sharing insights on designing digital youth work activities and building awareness on how to do it in a participatory and inclusive way. Also, the group focused on problem-solving in different situations caused by rapid digital growth.

Creating Inclusive and Participatory Digital Spaces

The journey into the realm of digital transformation continued with a panel discussion on Inclusive and Participatory Digital Spaces, where participants delved into the complexity of providing an inclusive digital space and finding the best means for engaging young people within it for co-creation and decision-making purposes. Experts, including Jasmin Ruokolainen (Peace Education Institute Finland), Adina Serban (Youth Research), Thomas Schallhart (trainer) and Panu Räsänen (Verke) shared their insights. The session explored the main concerns pertaining to inclusion and active participation when working with young people in digital spaces. Participants gained valuable tips and tricks on how to establish inclusive and participatory online educational settings and learned how to address the unique needs of different individuals.

The explorations continued on the theme of inclusive and participatory digital transformation with the group of youth workers in a two-day online training session in Zoom focused on strategies to address the digital divide. On the first day, participants were introduced to the concept of digital inclusion and the challenges of bridging the digital divide. They explored real-life situations faced by individuals from inclusion groups and gained a deeper understanding of their specific challenges. Furthermore, solutions for creating inclusive digital youth work activities were shared, which required collaboration and collective problem-solving. The second day focused on participatory digital transformation and explored the transition from being mere consumers to becoming prosumers. Participants examined various forms of involving young people in the creation and making process. Engaging discussions provided a platform for participants to explore topics related to active participation in the digital transformation process. The comprehensive sessions facilitated collaboration, knowledge sharing and meaningful engagement, paving the way for a more inclusive and digitally empowered landscape of youth work.


Online Green and Clean

The journey into digital transformation ventured into the realm of digital sustainability. In a thought-provoking panel discussion on Digital Sustainability, experts Gerry McGovern (World Wide Waste), Kris De Decker (Low-tech Magazine) and Katy Wiese (European Environmental Bureau) provided valuable insights into how to consider sustainability in digital environments from various perspectives. The session aimed to provide participants with knowledge and insights into how to be more considerate about the environment when moving to digital realms. The discussion delved into topics such as digital pollution and highlighted the importance of raising awareness about digital sustainability and in taking proactive measures to prevent harm in the digital world. 

The exploration of digital sustainability continued with a two-day online training session in Mibo, which focused on sharing knowledge and tools on related topics in youth work such as carbon footprint, digital waste and the responsible usage of email and data. Participants engaged in discussions on developing sustainability-focused digital youth work activities and the role of youth workers in such endeavours. Furthermore, they shared practical ideas on ensuring the sustainability of projects beyond their completion. After the training, participants felt more confident to make sustainable choices and create a lasting impact in their practice.




Unveiling the Secrets of Digital Well-being: Nurturing Youth in the Digital Age

In the panel that addressed Digital Well-being, experts Simona Muršec (Ljubljana Pride), Dragan Atanasov (Union for Youth Work) and Dr Amy Orben (University of Cambridge) explored the crucial topic of ensuring the well-being of young people in the digital age. Discussions revolved around strategies and practices for promoting healthier digital habits and managing the potential risks associated with technology, as well as the importance of understanding the positive effects of the digital environment. The matter of how to take care of the diverse groups included in the different trainings and be mindful of their wellbeing was also addressed. 

 The training on Digital Wellbeing took place in GatherTown and provided participants with the opportunity to test and discuss tools and activities that offer the possibility to create spaces where participants can feel safe and empowered. We explored how to implement mindfulness activities online with Sandra Gojić. Participants then delved into various aspects of digital well-being and they shared examples and activities related to promoting well-being in the digital realms. The second day started with activities aimed at developing new ideas for youth work activities centred around digital well-being. Participants explored the factors contributing to digital well-being and engaged in group discussions. The training enhanced the awareness among participants of crucial aspects related to ensuring the digital well-being of young people. They gained better knowledge of existing well-being oriented practices in youth work and developed ideas for implementing such digital initiatives within their organisations.


Preserving Digital Ethics and Safeguarding Human Rights in the Digital World

The online panel on Ethics and Digital Rights examined the ethical considerations associated with digital transformation in youth work. Experts, including Maryna Bykova (CGE Erfurt e.V.), Charline d’Oultremont (UNESCO) and Andreas Karsten (Youth Policy Labs, RAY) contributed to a discussion that focused on privacy, data protection and responsible technology use, which emphasised the importance of upholding young people’s rights and ethical principles in the digital realm. Valuable insights were shared from RAY research as well as the perspective of UNESCO and its impact on digital rights. 

The two-day online training on Digital Rights, which took place in GatherTown, explored the topic further, beginning with the participants’ reconnection that set the stage for a deep-dive to online well-being. The training continued with an exploration of how human rights are impacted in digital spaces and in identifying the advocacy initiatives that tackle such issues, led by Lauren Mason from the European Youth Forum. The second day commenced with an exploration of ethical considerations in digital spaces and delved into the complex dilemmas faced by youth workers. Participants actively engaged in building an educational online youth work space centred around digital rights and in enhancing their skills in creating interactive online environments. The training empowered participants to gain greater awareness of ethical dilemmas in digital youth work and to develop their own perspectives in response. Additionally, participants acquired knowledge about initiatives dedicated to digital rights and honed their skills in building online spaces on GatherTown.


Seeing the Future: Exploring the Boundless Potential of Emerging Technologies and Innovation

The panel on Emerging Technologies and Innovation featured distinguished guests including Juha Kiviniemi (SALTO Digital Resource Centre), Barry Haughey (HoloGen) and Irina Buzu (Center for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Policy). The panel showcased the potential of emerging technologies in youth work. Participants had the opportunity to explore cutting-edge technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality and other emerging trends. The discussion focused on how these technologies can be leveraged to engage young people and foster innovative approaches in youth work. The panel also introduced the new SALTO Digital, which will further promote the topic of digital transformation in the future.


Discovering Armenia: Study Visit and Emerging Technologies

The study visit to Armenia proved to be a perfect end to the journey. Participants had the unique opportunity to witness first-hand the impact of emerging technologies in the youth field. 

Discovering Technological Learning Hubs

The activity started with visits to two prominent institutions in Armenia. The group had an opportunity to explore the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies, a vibrant hub where 15,000 young individuals engage in free practice and learn digital skills on a weekly basis. Participants witnessed the transformative impact of the centre’s non-formal learning methods and how it nurtures the technology professionals of tomorrow. The group also visited the Picsart Academy, which is renowned for its pipeline model that equips young people with the necessary skills to enter the tech industry through unconventional learning approaches. The academy’s innovative approach provides a blueprint for other organisations seeking to bridge the gap between non-formal education and professional opportunities.

Unleashing the Potential of Virtual and Augmented Reality

A highlight of the study visit was the exploration of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies. Through collaborating with American Councils for International Education Armenia and ARLOOPA, the participants gained valuable insights into the potential uses of VR and AR in youth work. They discovered how these immersive technologies can enhance engagement, learning and creative expression among young people.

Empowering Recognition and Collaboration

During the study visit, the group had the opportunity to meet the partner organisation of Reimagine Recognition from KASA Swiss Humanitarian Foundation and the coordinators of DigiYouth from Armenian Progressive Youth, winners of the #saltoawards 2021. These encounters facilitated knowledge sharing and inspired collaboration, leading to the establishment of six new Erasmus+ project collaborations to date.


Creating an Impact with Digital Tools

A variety of digital tools were used during the journey to experiment and showcase the possibilities of the digital world.

The HOP Online Learning Platform played a crucial role in the training, serving as the central hub for connecting participants, course modules, resources and the training schedule. Learning Badges was also used as a recognition tool for the learning process, which helped add value for the participants and encouraged them to use the platform more. 

WhatsApp was utilised as a secondary channel alongside emails and the HOP platform for day-to-day informal communication and updates with the participants. 

The Zoom platform was used in various scenarios throughout the project. Zoom was also used for the first online training session on digital well-being. 

Restream was chosen as the platform for panel discussions due to its controlled environment and synchronised comments field across multiple channels.

Mibo was employed as the platform of choice for the second online training session. Mibo offers a unique experience in which participants navigate a 3D world using their webcams, with their webcam feed acting as their head.

GatherTown was utilised as a digital space to foster collaboration among distributed teams. It creates an environment reminiscent of an old arcade game, where participants can interact with each other and the virtual space itself. 

Miro and Mentimeter were used to collect feedback and engage participants during the online activities, using different features such as word clouds, sliders, open questions or post-it simulations to collect the inputs and results of group discussions.


Digital Transformers Unleashed: A Journey of Empowerment, Innovation and Youth Work Revolution!

The journey of digital transformation in youth work has been a transformative experience for the dedicated participants. From Lithuania to Armenia, through panels and online training modules on different platforms, they have acquired essential skills, gained valuable insights and established a network of like-minded professionals on digital transformation. Armed with new perspectives and knowledge, they are ready to work on digital transformation, ensuring that the potential of emerging technologies is harnessed to create inclusive, participatory and diverse youth work practices. As the journey ends, a new chapter begins – one where the impact of digital transformers will shape the future of digital transformation in youth work. 

A big thank you in this project goes to trainers Michele di Paola and Laimonas Ragauskas, who developed the content for the whole journey. Maja Drobne, who held the whole journey and its stakeholders together. Anna Yeghoyan, who took care of the Armenian study visit. Kadri Maripuu from SALTO Participation and Information Resource Centre and Henrique Goncalves from SALTO Inclusion and Diversity Resource Centre, who maintained the strategic vision and supported this project throughout the year in every way possible. Tallinn University whose students made sure the journey was also recorded in visual format. Thank yous also go to 10 National Agencies from Denmark, Greece, Finland, Iceland, Italy, Austria, Belgium-Flanders, Lithuania, Portugal and Estonia, alongside hosts SALTO Eastern Europe and Caucasus Resource Centre (SALTO EECA) and National Agency Lithuania, who made this journey possible.