Technology in Social Work Education: Educators’ Perspectives on the NASW Technology Standards for Social Work Education and Supervision

In 2017, newStandards for Technology in Social Work Practice were issued to address the intersections of professional social work practice and technology. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), along with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), Association of Social Work Boards, and the Clinical Social Work Association cosigned the Standards, developed by a committee of primarily social work practitioners. CSWE clarified that the standards are not part of the 2015 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards competencies and are not part of the accreditation process (Council on Social Work Education [CSWE],personal communication, June 30, 2017). The authors of the Standards also offered brief interpretations of each of the Standards and sub-standards.

Hearing a call for more thorough guidance, the editors of this document reached out to social work educators and supervisors with specialized knowledge of teaching and supervising with technology and asked them to help us think about Section 4, Social Work Education and Supervision.  In the early Fall of 2017, twenty-five people responded to the request to contribute their best practice and research wisdom.  We used technology to crowd-source (obtain input of a number of people online), which allowed us to co-create, co-edit, and get rapid feedback on this document over the course of a month. The result of this effort is a document (see end of this post to access a copy of this document) that includes the original standards published by NASW, followed by interpretations developed by the group of twenty-five social work academics and supervisors.  It offers considerations for decision-making related to the benefits and risks of technology use in teaching and supervision, developed by those who have direct experience in these arenas.

We extend our appreciation to the contributors, and to all social work educators and supervisors who strive to see all the potentials and benefits of technology, innovate while holding up our professional values and ethics, and understand and educate about risks of technology while working with and on behalf of people who are the most vulnerable.

Thank you,

Editors
Laurel Iverson Hitchcock, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Melanie Sage, University at Buffalo
Nancy J. Smyth, University at Buffalo

Contributors
Becky Anthony, Salisbury University School of Social Work
Lisa Baker, University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Social Work
Ellen Belluomini, Brandman University Department of Social Work
Shane R. Brady, University of Oklahoma School of Social Work
Beth Counselman-Carpenter, Columbia University School of Social Work
Stephen Cummings, University of Iowa School of Social Work
Allison M. Curington,  University of Alabama School of Social Work
Katherine D. Ferrari, Independent Practitioner
Ellen Fink-Samnick,  George Mason University Department of Social Work
Lauri Goldkind, Fordham University, Graduate School of Social Service
Janet M. Joiner, University of Detroit Mercy Department of Social Work
Nathalie P. Jones, Tarleton State University Department of Social work
Dione M. King, University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Social Work
Matthea Marquart, Columbia University School of social Work
Jennifer Parga,  University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work
Carlene Quinn, Indiana University Bloomington School of Social Work
Liz Rembold, Briar Cliff University Department of Social Work
Sara L. Schwartz, University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work
Jenny Simpson, The Open University, School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Jonathan B. Singer, Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work
Amanda M.L. Taylor, University of Central Lancashire Preston, England, United Kingdom
Jimmy A. Young, California State University San Marcos Department of Social Work
Karen Zgoda, University of Massachusetts Boston Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs

Introduction from Technology in Social Work Education: Educators’ Perspectives on the NASW Technology Standards for Social Work Education and Supervision:

The latest National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Technology Standards (2017a) offer updated guidance for thinking about the use of technology in social work practice, with brief interpretations. Standard 4.0 specifically addresses social work education and the role of educators and supervisors in maintaining professional standards related to technology-mediated practice and educational settings. Discussions with educators revealed a need for broader consideration, which is why the interpretations below were written in collaboration with twenty-five social work educators and supervisors, whose names are listed at the end of this document. The purpose  of this document is to adjust the interpretations from a mostly risk-averse and micro-practice focus to a perspective that also acknowledges the potential strengths of technology in work at micro to macro levels of practice and social work education, supervision, and continuing education.

NASW Technology Standards emphasizes educators who are utilizing or currently specifically teaching about technology, the following interpretations widen this scope to address the need for ALL social work educators to have some basic understanding and competence in the use of technology  and its impact on our field.  Further, we acknowledge that all educators are using technology in some way and have important roles in helping students prepare for technology-mediated practice at all levels.  The word “competence” is used but not defined in the NASW Technology standards. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) considers competence to be “the ability to integrate and apply social work knowledge, values, and skills to practice situations in a purposeful, intentional, and professional manner to promote human and community well-being (Council on Social Work Education [CSWE], 2015, p. 6).”  Further, CSWE notes that professional and ethical behavior for a social worker includes using “technology ethically and appropriately to facilitate practice outcomes (CSWE, 2015, p. 7).  Along with being professional and ethical with technology, we see competency with technology for social work practice as context-dependent and evolving as technology evolves, and as requiring ongoing participation in learning networks and continuing education, just as in any other practice area.

We also encourage educators to acknowledge their own personal biases and competencies related to the intersections of technology and social work, and consider how those are transmitted to students, colleagues, and other constituents.  Social work educators are ideally positioned to model and support students, colleagues and other constituents  in becoming lifelong learners in these areas and others.

Finally, in order for social work educators to practice these ethical standards, educational settings need to ensure they offer the infrastructure and technical support to educators to teach effectively in the classroom and in field placements.

Click here to download a copy of  the entire document.

References:

National Association of Social Workers. (2017a). NASW, ABSW, CSWE & CSWA Standards for Technology in Social Work Practice. Washington,  DC: National Association of Social Workers. Retrieved from http://www.socialworkers.org/includes/newIncludes/homepage/PRA-BRO-33617.TechStandards_FINAL_POSTING.pdf

Council on Social Work Education. (2015). 2015 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards for Baccalaureate and Master’s Social Work Programs. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education. Retrieved from https://www.cswe.org/getattachment/Accreditation/Accreditation-Process/2015-EPAS/2015EPAS_Web_FINAL.pdf.aspx

Suggested citation for blog post:

Hitchcock, L. I., Sage, M., & Smyth, N. J. (Eds.). (2017, November 30). Technology in social work education: Educators’ perspectives on the NASW Technology Standards for Social Work Education and Supervision [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: http://www.laureliversonhitchcock.org/2017/11/30/technology-in-social-work-education-educators-perspectives-on-the-nasw-technology-standards-for-social-work-education-and-supervision

Technology in social work education: Educators’ perspectives on the NASW Technology Standards for Social Work Education and Supervision is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share with Attribution, No Derivatives International License.  Contact Laurel Hitchcock (lihitch@uab.edu) for questions.

Author: Laurel Hitchcock

Dr. Hitchcock served as the editor for this blog post. The author is the Guest Educator.

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