#BPD2014 Presentation on Teaching Professional Social Work Skills with Twitter

I am attending the 2014 annual meeting for the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors in Louisville, KY. Today is Day 1 of the conference for me, and I’m presenting with Dr. Jimmy Young of the University of Nebraska at Kearney (@Jimmysw) about using Twitter in the classroom.  We presented this information at CSWE’s annual program meeting back in October, and the purpose of this post is to provide supplemental information for today’s presentation.  If you are attending the conference, please join us in Room Kentucky D at 11:15 AM in the conference venue.  Or follow our live demo on Twitter starting at 11:45 AM EST with the hashtag #swktweets.  

The purpose of our presentation is to inform participants about Twitter and how to use it to help BSW-level students develop and practice information literacy and professional communication skills.  The learning objectives include: 

  1. Recognize how using Twitter can promote the profession’s core competencies and practice behaviors and the NASW Code of Ethics
  2. Understand how Twitter can be incorporated into assignments for social work courses
  3. Appreciate the role of collaboration to support the development and implementation of technology-based assignments

Here is a link to the Prezi we will show during the presentation.

During the presentation, we will be demonstrating how to moderate a live Twitter chat and have several resources listed in the presentation we wanted to share:

Here is our proposal for the presentation:

There is a growing awareness that social work practitioners, students and educators need to be adept at using social media as part of their practice and interaction with clients of all system sizes (Getz, 2012; NASW & ABSW, 2005; McNutt, 2008; Perron et al, 2010).  Social media offer an opportunity for social workers to communicate and advocate around social justice causes, network with other professionals, and locate information and resources that will inform practice with clients. This workshop will cover how two social work educators from different parts of the country are using Twitter, a micoblogging platform, with their students in the classroom, and how they collaborated to bring their students together via Twitter to engage in professional conversations about current topics relevant to social work practice.

Social work students benefit from using Twitter in two important ways.  First, they learn to communicate with professionals and each other in a new ways.  Using the parameters of Twitter (140 characters), students can easily share information with each other and their instructors about group assignments, research studies and current events.  Students also report the ability to communicate directly with social work practitioners and researchers via Twitter, and thus become more capable about how to communicate and interaction with professionals. While some students use Twitter for recreational or personal reasons, they can also learn how use the character limit, professional terminology and written skills to communicate in public ways.  The presenters have participated in live Twitter chats with their students as a collaborative effort between their universities and with social work professionals. These live chats demonstrate how social work students, professionals and educators can use technology to enhance policy analysis, macro practice, and online advocacy.

Second, students learn to discover, disseminate and evaluate information related to important social problems and social work practice in new and very public ways.  For example, one of the presenters has students assess the quality of practice-based information received via Twitter, and then share this information with the instructor, each other and other professionals over a semester.  Classroom discussions about the Twitter assignment focus on topics such as privacy, public image, professional communication skills, becoming a life-long learner, and using social media as a way to give back to the profession, and reinforce the role of values and ethics such as social justice, competency and integrity in social work practice.

These examples demonstrate how Twitter can be used to address the educational policy and accreditation standards set forth by CSWE (2008). Specifically, students were able to engage in research and communication by discovering, interacting with and or engaging with different populations (EPAS 2.1.6 & 2.1.9).  Additionally, students used critical thinking and creativity (EPAS 2.1.3) to engage in the policy discussion.  Social work educators who attend this session can learn how to incorporate Twitter in their own classrooms. The presenters will discuss the challenges and rewards of using Twitter in the classroom and their professional lives.


Council on Social Work Education. (2008).   Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards. Washington, DC: Author.

Getz, L. (2012). Mobile App Technology for Social Workers. Social Work Today, 12 (3), 8 -10.

Greenhow, C. & Gleason, B. (2012).  Twitteracy:  Tweeting as a new literary practice.  The Educational Forum, 76(4), 464-478.

NASW (National Association of Social Workers)/ASWB (Association of Social Work Boards). (2005). NASW & ASWB Standards for technology and social work practice. Retrieved on July 30, 2012 from  http://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/NASWTechnologyStandards.pdf.

McNutt, J. G. (2008). Web 2.0 tools for policy research and advocacy. Journal of Policy Practice, 7(1), 81-85.

Perron, B. E., Taylor, H. O., Glass, J. E., & Margerum-Leys, J. (2010). Information and communication technologies in social work. Advances in social work, 11(2), 67-81.

UPDATE on 3/23/2014:  Jimmy archived our live Twitter chat using Storify.  Click here to see all the tweets from the chat.

Author: Laurel Hitchcock

Share This Post On