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Weekly Discussion: Has the internet changed Guiding?

Has the internet changed Guiding?

  • Yes

  • No

  • Unsure

  • Other


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badgemad4

Veteran (100+ posts)
#1
There is a sister thread for this specifically about social media (Weekly Discussion: Has social media changed Guiding?) as although there is some crossover things like Go, Join Us and email have had more of a universal impact on volunteers (there is no way to run a unit without at least one leader or an assigned unit administrator being online as an example).

Without a doubt the internet is one of the biggest changes to society over the past thirty years. I read a piece the other day saying that more or less the "wild west" days of the internet are gone, interest in using the internet is no longer niche, because of professional or hobby interest and its harder to be anonymous. Largely is that its no longer really optional to completely stay offline and still be able to access most services with ease.

For some leaders it may have isolated them away from volunteering. Rather than just having a paper and pen list of everything some degree of internet literacy is required. But for others it may have brought them into volunteering after they saw an online recruitment ad. Having records electronically also means that no individual is responsible for keeping paper records. If a leader suddenly leaves Guiding there is no need to fret over the loss of all the records.

What do you all think?
 

badgemad4

Veteran (100+ posts)
#2
I've never known Guiding without the internet as a volunteer so I don't really think I can comment on that other than how grateful I am for being able to email parents and for Go. When I was starting Brownies as a child I remember Eagle Owl (we didn't have BO) visiting me and my parents to discuss starting with all the information about Brownies, bringing with her a copy of the Brownie magazine, a uniform catalogue for my parents and to discuss general starting information. Although I'm not sure if it was standard practice pre-internet being one of the main communication methods, in some ways it was nice and personal but I can imagine organising it being a pain!
 

Ech18

Veteran (100+ posts)
#3
Definitely maybe not pre internet technically but my internet excitement at the time was browsing Amazon (when it mostly sold books!) at college so maybe a bit Wild West.

I remember sitting round a table and handing round A5 coloured leaflets depending on your section from the Division commissioner and getting the little pack of events and the newsletter every meeting etc. If you had to hand them out off to the photocopier you went. So now that it comes out by email and I can forward the bits on as needed is great.

I defiantly used to go and visit new starters and cycling round dropping of letters was quite a regular event. You were definitely more prepared as phoning 20 parents to tell them to bring a coat was not going to happen.
 

Tregi

Veteran (100+ posts)
#4
It makes planning both easier and not as good - if you have had a crisis at home/work and not had time to plan what you were originally going to do, 15 mins on the internet can give you some good options. It can make you aware of a lot of things that aren't in the Guiding magazine, and things from around the world. It can, however, be used every week in the same way, meaning that maybe the 5 essentials aren't being covered, there is no consistency, maybe the programme isn't being followed as well.
It make communication between leaders easier - we have facebook chats for 2 different events as well as our normal Guide meetings, and if our parents were a little more inclined, I would create a closed group, but the ones we have at present like paper, not emails or facebook.
Some people online seem to forget that some of the Guide Laws are that 'A Guide is a sister to all Guides' and 'A Guide is polite and considerate' occasionally, as they are hidden behind a keyboard. I would like the Guide Laws to be in the ALQ book, as unless you were a Guide, or you do the laws with Guides, you may not know what you are promising to keep!!!!
 

fenris

fenris
GuiderPlus
#5
I've never known Guiding without the internet as a volunteer so I don't really think I can comment on that other than how grateful I am for being able to email parents and for Go. When I was starting Brownies as a child I remember Eagle Owl (we didn't have BO) visiting me and my parents to discuss starting with all the information about Brownies, bringing with her a copy of the Brownie magazine, a uniform catalogue for my parents and to discuss general starting information. Although I'm not sure if it was standard practice pre-internet being one of the main communication methods, in some ways it was nice and personal but I can imagine organising it being a pain!
Before the 1970s, it was expected - it meant the Leader could meet the parents and discuss Brownies with them, it also meant the Leader could get an initial impression of their home circumstances, which could be useful. But this dated from the days when Leaders either worked part-time or did not have paid employment, so had time to pay calls. It wouldn't be realistic hence it died out fairly quickly. Visiting was the realistic option, because most families were not 'on the phone' until well into the 1980s. Or you would deliver notes round the doors - okay if the weather was fine and all the houses were nearby . . .

Before the days of computers in Guiding (far less the internet) forms had to be filled in by hand (x24 for Brownie holiday forms!), and any notes home would involve the Leader either dictating the information for the girls to write down (hence paper and pencil being part of the Brownie pocket kit) or the Leaders would have had to write out copies. Either took quite a bit of time out of unit meetings. If a Leader had access to a typewriter, she could use carbon paper to produce several copies at once to cut up.

Guiding produced many more books and booklets - as they were the main source of information - and there were training articles for each section in the magazine, and trainings most weekends at the training centres, as sources of ideas and inspiration.
 

Quack

Veteran (100+ posts)
Staff member
GuiderPlus
Moderator
#6
Yes, it has improved many aspects of Guiding, hunting for resources, sourcing ingredients or components for crafts, challenges etc when so many of us work and not always near shops.
It has made access to information easier not necessarily more accurate. It has also give us more accessibility to what is happening, events outside of our patch and reduced the impact of filtering, which shouldn't happen but does.
 

Fox

Brownie-induced madness
#7
Loads of resources available now that were very hard to find, I imagine, previously. I wasn't a Guider but I led youth groups (tended to rely on books and others with experience for ideas), went travelling (the frustration of dealing with a travel agent who hadn't heard of the country I was travelling to!) and did obscure crafts (lots of catalogues I seem to remember).
One way in which the internet is ahead of Guiding and this is hampering Guiding - online shopping. There is no "legal" Guiding way to buy things online (you aren't supposed to use your own credit card, you aren't supposed to have a unit debit card). This is very short sighted - many other charities manage with the two-signatory aspect but Guiding is totally unwilling to even look into these.
 

Quack

Veteran (100+ posts)
Staff member
GuiderPlus
Moderator
#8
"there is no "legal" Guiding way to buy things online (you aren't supposed to use your own credit card, you aren't supposed to have a unit debit card). This is very short sighted - many other charities manage with the two-signatory aspect but Guiding is totally unwilling to even look into these."

Not entirely true...Guiding will accept online dual authorisation but few banks offer it for smaller charity accounts. I can't speak for other charity's but we have sufficient financial issues with the systems that we have so allowing individuals full access to unit funds with plastic is not a great way to limit risk. The systems are there to protect individuals as well as the charity.

Managing unit funds and accounts
 

Kochanski

Veteran (100+ posts)
#9
I can remember arriving at Brownie meetings to find one large version of a note, written by Brown Owl, which we had to start copying. As more girls arrived, they copied off someone else until everybody had a copy to take home. Looking around my pack now, I don't think it could be done. We have too many who aren't up to the required standard in reading and writing. (The early ones had to be accurate or everyone else got a message that wouldn't make sense!)
 
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chopperchick

Veteran (100+ posts)
Staff member
GuiderPlus
Moderator
#10
When I started as a unit leader at 18, I thought I was high-tech having an electronic typewriter I used for my university essays! We only got email in my 2nd year at uni, and not to be used for non-uni stuff. Didn't have internet at home for another year or two.
So, just like workplaces, guiding has evolved as the internet has evolved. Keeping roughly at pace, as the technology has evolved, so has what we do e.g. keeping records on line, or doing training. Obviously there's parts of it that as individuals we complain about - but a lot of that is down to our expectations and reality of using internet elsewhere in our lives. E.g. if I work somewhere with a really good personnel / record keeping system, I may assume there's no reason for GO not to be perfect.
Arguably, there are parts where we've not kept pace. The on-line shopping example above is fair - although to be balanced against the following comment about risk limitation.

But, one issue I see in guiding, as well as the workplace and other voluntary groups i'm involved with, is that there is an assumption that everyone will be comfortable with all IT systems in place. By explanation, at work we no longer routinely offer anyone a course in Word or Excel. We assume you've been using them long enough in work - or been brought up with them. We'll do training on a new company / industry software system.
In another organisation I'm involved in, getting people to communicate via email or mobile phone is difficult. A lot is generational - and I know that's a sweeping statement, but in this case it's true - we publish our contact details to each other; I've included my mobile number rather than a home landline because like many folk I just don't use the landline anymore - but many of my older compatriots refuse to call the mobile in case they're disturbing me or I'm driving.

Interestingly, there's a recent thread about "how much do you tell parents" regarding details of the programme. There's an element of expectation there I think ......... it's relatively simple for us to print off 30 copies of the programme and send a copy home at the beginning of term. Thus parents know our plan for the term. If you had, as Fenris describes, had to hand-write out 30 copies or even carbon-paper type them, you'd probably think twice about agreeing to send a copy home!