Evaluation of the online survey
The online survey on the needs of educational professionals working with mentally impaired young people was successfully completed. The evaluation has led to exciting findings that will be incorporated into the development of a blended learning training for professionals.
The survey was completed by a total of almost 70 people who work with people with disabilities, e.g. in residential care or disability assistance, but also in the field of mental health. The respondents live mainly in Germany, Belgium or Greece.
The answers to the questions about the opportunities and risks of the digital world for the target group of young people with intellectual disabilities were particularly exciting. For although the experts see some risks for their clients in virtual space (especially with regard to the naïve giving away of privacy, contact with strangers or the potential for addiction), they still believe that digital media and the Internet offer many opportunities for their target group. The opportunity to strengthen existing contacts, to have the feeling of being involved and being included (for example by using social media), but also the playful possibilities to learn new things and to become creative and productive along individual paths are very valuable especially for young people with intellectual disabilities and should be used accordingly.
However, this is precisely where the difficulty lies: many professionals do have media literacy, but have problems using it to work with their target group. They often have a basic technical understanding and knowledge of how to use digital and social media, but they need help in transferring these skills to their daily work with young people and to accompany them in their use of digital media. The challenge lies in particular in warning young people of risks, pointing out opportunities and generally conveying a reflective approach to digital media.
In addition, digital issues are not or only partially addressed in the training of professionals. In many cases, digital media are not part of the training of pedagogical staff at all.
This only shows all the more clearly that there is a need for further training in these areas.
The aim is to develop a flexible training format that gives professionals the opportunity to train alongside their professional activities without having to invest much time. The training should also be very practice-oriented so that the participants can apply what they have learned directly to their target group and carry out exercises together, from which not only the professionals themselves but also young people with mild intellectual disabiltiy can benefit.