Press Release: Young people shout about informal learning on social networking sites with ShoutBox

ShoutboxYoung people shout about informal learning on social networking sites with ShoutBox  

Young people are being encouraged to recognise and showcase their learning outside the classroom with ShoutBox. Currently being developed as a prototype by education innovator Futurelab (, this new tool enables young people to capture their out of school experiences using their mobile phone and then share with peers online via a ShoutBox website or a dedicated space on popular social networking sites such as BEBO or Facebook.

Positive learning experiences happen outside of school every day but these often go un-recognised. Using technology already familiar to young people, ShoutBox aims to highlight learning in different categories such as sports, work, music, care etc. The ShoutBox mobile phone application comes with a friendly character that presents different themes such as leadership and teamwork and encourages the user to generate content which mirrors their own activities outside of school. For example, a photo of the user’s rugby team winning a trophy could represent teamwork.

A young person involved in trialling ShoutBox commented: “I never thought about what I did outside school before, I just did it because I enjoyed it. I didn’t think of the benefits I could get from sharing it.”

Leila Walker, Senior Researcher at Futurelab, comments: “Research indicates that students gain many benefits from participating in learning activities and experiences outside of school, from youth club activities to general social interaction with both peers and adults. Such benefits include higher aspirations, greater self-esteem and specialised knowledge, skills and competencies. However, young people don’t usually think twice about what they are achieving outside of school through activities such as fishing with dad or playing computer games but ShoutBox gives them a structure to help them recognise and value their activities and be able to share this with others.”

Mobile games developers Mobile Pie were the originators of the idea for ShoutBox and Richard Wilson, Company Director, comments: “Recognising informal learning is important, not necessarily to showcase in school, but to help young people understand what their strengths are and to help build confidence. It is also an opportunity to give children plaudits and to celebrate success without the normal pressures of exams and coursework. With ShoutBox, we aimed to use technology that young people are already familiar with to bridge the gap between formal and informal learning – mobile phones and social networking seemed the obvious choice.”

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