Using #MacroSW in the Classroom

MacroSW#MacroSW is a live weekly Twitter chat for anyone interested in macro-level social work practice. The chat partners include practitioners and academics with a passion for working with policy, communities and organizations. In full self-disclosure, I have been an active partner with #MacroSW for almost a year now, and value the opportunity to be part of this online community.

Why use #MacroSW in the classroom? 

Simply put, it is an incredibly engaging way to learn about macro social work practice. When students participate in an hour-long chat, they are engaging in the principles of Connected Learning, a theory that incorporates the digital technology into the learning process (Ito et al., 2013).  Connected Learning suggests that learning in the 21st century must be driven simultaneously by the interests of the learner (Interest-Driven) and the academic requirements (Academically-Oriented) while occurring in an environment that supports openness, sharing and feedback with peers and others (Peer-Supported) (Ito et al., 2013).   For example, if the goal of your class is for students to learn social work practice with communities and organizations, #MacroSW offers weekly topics related to social welfare policy, research, and practice with community and organizations (Interest-Driven) that are hosted and attended by a variety of social work professionals including students, academics, policy analysts and practitioners (Peer-Supported). Each chat includes a blog post on our website, numerous resources for the week’s topic, and a chat transcript which allow any social work educator to easily incorporate #MacroSW into a course or a specific assignment (Academically-Oriented).

How can you incorporate #MacroSW into your class?

There are four things you want to consider when creating an assignment with #MacroSW in your class:

1. Setting-up a Twitter Account: Students will need to create a free Twitter account, understand the basics of how to use Twitter, and be familiar with how to participate in a live chat.  As the instructor, you will want to model for your students so set-up your own account too.  Here are some resources:

2. Frequency and Substance of Tweets: Before students participate in a #MacroSW chat, you will need to outline the number and quality of their tweets. For example, students might need to respond to all of the questions posted during a chat as well as respond to at least three people during the chat.  Additionally, you may require them to post hyperlinks to resources that contribute to the chat such a newspaper article or community resource.  It is helpful provide examples of good and not-so-good tweets.  A short, in-class practice session of live tweeting (10 minutes) before participating in an hour-long #MacroSW chat helps reduce anxiety among students.

3. Archiving/Tracking: While not necessary, it can be useful to create an archive your students’ tweets for review and grading purposes.  You can either do this one your own or ask students to create their own archive and send to you.  Archives can be created in Storify, taking screenshots of tweets or copying tweets into a spreadsheet using IFTTT.  Here are some resources:

Alternatively, you can simply ask students to submit a hyperlink of their Twitter account in the course learning management system and then link directly to their Twitter account via the web-based platform.

4. Assessment or Grading: Finally, you will want to decide how much the assignment is worth and how you will grade.   Jimmy Young and I have created an assignment in partnership with #MacroSW chat, using a competency-based grading rubric.  We recommend incorporating writing tasks along with the chat participation such as a written movie review and after-chat self-reflection.  You can read more about our assignment at the following link: Special #MacroSW Chat on October 28, 2014.

Finally, I offer a list of #MacroSW Learning activities based on the Council of Social Work Education’s 2015 Competencies.  Please feel free to incorporate these learning tasks into your course or across a curriculum.  Or better, please let me know how you are engaging your students in our weekly #MacroSW chats.  Does anyone have any experiences with #MacroSW and their classroom?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Social Work Competency #MacroSW Learning Activities
Competency 1: Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior
  1. Participate in a #MacroSW chat.
  2. Review the transcript from a weekly #MacroSW Chat for examples of professional communication between social workers.
  3. Write a blog post for the #MacroSW blog about your experience of participating in a live chat.
Competency 2: Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice
  1. Participate in a #MacroSW chat with a topic on diversity or difference.
  2. Review the transcript from a #MacroSW chat about a diversity topic and write a summary of the chat.
  3.  Research hashtags and/or how other professions are conducting chats such as #BlackLivesMatter or #LGTBQ.
Competency 3: Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice
  1. Participate in a #MacroSW chat with a topic about human rights and/or social justice.
  2. Review the transcript from a #MacroSW chat about a social justice topic and create an infographic or digital resource list based on the transcript.
  3. Identify and recommend a documentary movie on a social justice topic for a future chat.  Write a 300-word recommendation and email  to the #MacroSW Chat partners.
Competency 4: Engage In Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice
  1. Review a transcript from a previous chat, assess for qualitative themes, and write-up your findings in 500-word blog post.
  2. Review #MacroSW analytics on Symplur (http://www.symplur.com/healthcare-hashtags/macrosw/) from one of the weekly chats and write-up your findings in a 500-word blog post.
  3. Recommend a research-informed, marco-level practice topic for a future chat.  Write a 300-word recommendation and email  to the #MacroSW Chat partners.
Competency 5: Engage in Policy Practice
  1. Participate in a #MacroSW chat with a topic about a social policy.
  2. Review the transcript from a #MacroSW chat about a social policy topic and create an infographic or digital resource list based on the transcript.
  3. Recommend a social policy topic for a future chat.  Write a 300-word recommendation and email  to the #MacroSW Chat partners.
Competency 6: Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  1. Read the blog post How to participate in a Live Twitter Chat – Tips for Social Workers by Laurel Hitchcock and write a tweet summarizing the post.
  2. Follow one weekly #MacroSW chat on Twitter without participating and then write up a 300-word summary about the chat.
  3. Write two or three tweets to @OfficialMacroSW about a macro-level social work topic that interests you.  Post one of your tweets outside of a weekly chat.
Competency 7: Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  1. Interview one of the #MacroSW chat partners about their motivation for participating in live Twitter chats.
  2. Search other social work hashtags and/or how other professions are conducting live chats and write-up your finding in a 500-word blog post.
  3. Review at least three different transcripts from previous #MacroSW chats and compare the quantity and quality of tweets for each chat in a 500-word blog post.
Competency 8: Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  1. Write a 300- word proposal for a future #MacroSW chat including topic and proposed questions.
  2. Volunteer to co-host a weekly at with one of the #MacroSW chat partners.
  3. Plan and conduct a live Twitter chat for all social work students at your institution, and invite some of the #MacroSW chat partners to participate.
Competency 9: Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  1. Read the article Tweet, Tweet!: Using Live Twitter Chats in Social Work Education (Hitchcock & Young, 2016), and create an infographic about the article’s findings.
  2. Create a list of survey questions to elicit feedback from participants following a live Twitter chat.
  3.  After participating in one of the weekly #MacroSW chats, write a 500-word self-reflection about what you learned.

References: 

Ito, M., Gutiérrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K., & Watkins, S. C. (2013). Connected learning: An agenda for research and design. Irvine, CA, USA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. Retrieved from http://dmlhub.net/

Author: Laurel Hitchcock

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