Youth Work Matters: Online Professional Development for Youth Workers




cohort based learning, youth workers, professional development, positive youth development, non-credit adult learners


As the field of youth development becomes more recognized as a profession, it is imperative that youth workers are trained in foundational youth development research and practice. However, accessibility and cost can limit participation in face-to-face workshops and conferences. Online, cohort-based courses are a viable method to offer professional development for youth workers. This program article provides an overview of the online course, Youth Work Matters, which has provided training to youth workers for over 10 years. The authors demonstrate that professional development for youth workers in an online setting will increase access to learning opportunities. This article also describes key components for an online, non-credit course for participants to gain knowledge, apply new concepts and participate in learning communities.

Author Biography

Kari Robideau, University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Youth Development

Kari is a Youth Development Extension educator, associate Extension professor, with the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development.  She has a specialized role in distance learning technologies and concentrates on the development of online opportunities for 4-H staff and others who work with or on behalf of youth. Her development model for non-credit adult learners is used internally to create cohort-based courses and asynchronous 4-H volunteer training modules. Recently, her expertise was sought to lead the development of a nationally offered online course for the North Central Region Volunteer Specialists.  Her teaching and research interests are in creating engaging and interactive web-based learning environments.
Past work experiences include working with children, youth and families as a youth practitioner, parent educator and college instructor. She has worked with young people in the 4-H program; been a coordinator for a year-long ninth-grade youth leadership program; supported youth-in-philanthropy board; and has provided technical assistance to a community planning process to help youth and adults form stronger partnerships. As a college instructor, she has taught courses to emerging adults seeking child & family studies and education degrees. Through parent education, college instruction and community organizing efforts, Kari has found the value of educating adults who work with young people to help foster purposeful, high-quality programs and opportunities for youth.


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