Rethinking eGuidance

I spent a really interesting day yesterday at iCeGs, based at the University of Derby. iCeGs, the International Centre for Guidance Studies, hosted a workshop on Rethinking eGuidance: the changing role of technology in careers work.

Facilitated by Professor Jim Sampson, a visiting professor from the University of Florida and Dr Tristram Hooley, Head of iCeGs, the presentations generated thought-provoking discussions on the benefits that using technology provides as well as some of the issues that its use raises.

Professor Sampson introduced the ‘Understand’, ‘Act’, ‘Cope’ model for linking client goals to the use of the internet for career counselling. Professor Sampson illustrated that clients (both young people and adults) can use the internet to help them achieve their goals in terms of understanding the issues that they have, getting help with acting to achieve a solution and enabling them to cope better if they are unable to completely solve their problem.

Professor Sampson offered practical examples of how this model can be used to help different types of clients move forward with their career planning and get access to the right information at the right time.

Professor Sampson went on to explain how the role of the careers adviser had changed from providing information to facilitating the use of information. In discussions, many of the other delegates that I spoke to agreed on the importance of encouraging people to learn their own solutions to finding information by supporting them to access the right information at the right time rather than fostering dependency by handing them the information.

Professor Sampson also shared a four-step counselling process model for integrating career counselling with internet-based delivery. This was particularly interesting as it illustrated our belief that online resources and guidance tools should be part of an integrated process rather than a one off event.

We also discussed the skills that a client needs for them to make the most effective use of internet-based resources. Among these was the need for clients to be critical consumers and question the impartiality and validity of information offered online by exploring the source and considering their motivation.

Dr Hooley presented on the trends in new technology and the rise of social networking applications as tools for finding information. A number of the organisations represented, which included careers and Connexions services, universities and local authorities, were using tools such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs to deliver information to their client base. Debra Longridge, a careers adviser from the University of Derby, spoke about the Twitter page that she has created to target art and design students and how it had led to the University developing valuable links and partnerships with organisations targeting a similar audience.

The day very much brought into focus the various applications of technology to support guidance and counselling and the potential that the internet has to support advisers. There is certainly a lot of information out there. The challenge for advisers is to help clients find the best sources for their particular needs at the right time for them.

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