Using Technology for Social Work Scholarship: Creating and Sharing your Work

This post was written and edited by Nancy J. SmythMelanie Sage, and myself as part of our collaboration on our forthcoming book, Teaching Social Work with Digital Technology, to be published by CSWE Press in 2018.

Social and digital technologies offer many tools and opportunities to create and disseminate scholarship in social work.  For example, social work educators can use blogs, podcasts, videos, and infographics to create and share content for professional purposes.  To see an example of how to use infographics, please see Harnessing Technology for Social Work Scholarship (Hitchcock & Sage, 2017).  This blog post describes two social work academics are using social media to share their research with others.

Dr. Jimmy A. Young, an Assistant Professor of social work at California State University San Marcos, shares how he uses social media to disseminate his research:

Social media technologies offer exciting opportunities to disseminate scholarship with a broader audience and share your research with others. A few examples include using Twitter to share a quick highlight or quote with a direct link to the article, a blog post with a longer quote or summary and direct link to the article, or some sort of video message on YouTube or Snapchat that also shares a summary and direct link. Today’s social media users enjoy rich content and video is an engaging way to share articles with others. I have also been successful in using professional academic social networks such as ResearchGate or Academia.edu to host articles, post summaries and links, as well as to connect with others working in a similar area. The great thing about these websites is you can get some analytics that can be useful for demonstrating your scholarly impact. For example, I have open access articles on ResearchGate that have garnered thousands of views and many of these articles have found their way into other scholar’s work as citations. GoogleScholar is another great way to manage your academic profile online and keep track of your scholarship and citations. Remember that some publishers do not want their articles shared on these websites for copyright reasons, but more and more are beginning to allow academics to post pre-print copies and even full online print versions. ResearchGate has been very useful because they are establishing relationships with some publishers to ensure that your work is freely available to share with others. Also, remember that many publishers provide a number of free copies for authors to distribute, and these copies can be great to share on social networks and increase your citations, online presence, and maybe even make you famous. Perhaps just moderately famous.  (J.A.Young, personal communication, November 3, 2017).

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#APM17 – Harnessing Technology for one’s own Good: Professional Learning Networks in Social Work

On 10/22/17, the last day of CSWE’s 2017 Annual Program Meeting, at 10:00 AM in the Dallas Ballroom A-2, Nancy J. Smyth, Melanie Sage, Jonathan Singer, and I are presenting about how social work educators can use technology for career-long learning.  Nancy, Melanie and I introduced the idea of professional learning networks (PLN) to a packed room at Social Work Distance Education Conference in April, and wanted to bring the practice to the #APM17 crowd.   A PLN incorporates technology-based tools and processes in a way that allows individuals to stay up-to-date and share information about current news, practice knowledge and current research findings.  We will be talking about the mechanics, advantages and disadvantages of establishing a PLN. One resources we will be sharing is our Professional Learning Network (PLN) Worksheet, which takes a social worker through the steps of creating their own PLN.  You can get your own copy here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByR_E-iQH7PdT2t1WV9YYnlZV00/view?usp=sharing

You can access a copy of the presentation slides here: https://www.slideshare.net/laurelhitchcock/professional-learning-networks-for-social-work-81048022 

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Using Technology for Collaboration: Virtual Communities of Practice

This post was written and edited by Nancy J. SmythMelanie Sage, and myself as part of our collaboration on our forthcoming book, Teaching Social Work with Digital Technology, to be published by CSWE Press in 2018. 

Virtual Communities of Practice (VCoP) are professional online communities that exist to improve work and education around disciplines and professions (Hara, Shachaf, & Stoerger, 2009; Adedoyin, 2016).  In this blog post, we asked our colleagues (social work educators) to share their best tips for collaborating with others professionals using digital tools.

Christine McKenna Lok of Dean College in Franklin, MA, participates in a VCoP called Academic Writing Club:

They set you up with a group of a dozen faculty in the social sciences (or health sciences, or whatever) and you have a private community to set goals for each 12-week cycle, check off which dates you’ve accomplished your goals, and write messages to each other about the process of writing rather than the content. They also have chat sessions available at various times with the entire enrollment for that session so you can log in at, say, 8 AM Central and say hello to other folks who have committed to a half-hour of writing and then wish them well at the end of the time. It’s not free, but it’s a worthwhile investment (C. McKenna Lok, personal communication, September 11, 2017).

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The Flipped Classroom: Harnessing technology to teach clinical skills to MSW students

Dr. Elisabeth Counselman-Carpenter

Dr. Elisabeth Counselman-Carpenter, PhD, LCSW is a lecturer in social work at Columbia University and maintains a private practice where she works with children and families.  In this blog post, she talks about the reasons why she flipped her course on clinical practice with children & families and the practical steps she took to achieve the flip. If you have questions for Elisabeth, you can tweet her at @ElisabethAnneCC 

This course was designed as first semester, second year elective called “Advanced Clinical Practice with Children and Families”.  Built on previous content from other courses about life span model and ecosystems perspective, students are expected to leave this advanced clinical course understanding the context and application of evidence-based social work practice with vulnerable populations.

After teaching the course for a year using traditional lecture format, I surveyed students regarding their learning preferences as well as goals and objectives for the semester. Some of the questions I asked included:

– What are your personal goals and expectations from this class for the next 14 weeks?
– What would strengthen your experience in this class?
– What have been some of your key take-aways from other practice classes?

Feedback indicated that students were most interested in focusing on play therapy and other forms of evidenced-based practice with skills be directly taught in class (i.e. modeled and then time for practice in the classroom). Uniformly, students reported that they felt unskilled in putting into place any form of direct practice with children because they only had a surface grasp of “how” to use certain skills with children.  All students requested that the course focus on direct application, with a ‘walk-through’ of the skills and interventions, by the professor, covered in the course readings and lectures. Additionally, students felt unsure about where to gather accurate information on how to implement their skills, and reported they were not often given time in field to observe and practice these skills with other staff members.  They requested digital case examples, such as training videos, in addition to single case study research articles to enhance their knowledge.  This course had rich material in the texts, but students struggled with the “how to” and were bored by simply reading about the techniques.

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Modeling Social Justice through Innovative, Low-Cost Textbook Options for Social Work Students

Dr. Becky Anthony

Dr. Victoria Venable

Both Dr. Victoria Venable and Dr. Becky Anthony (@becky_anthony)  and are assistant professors in the Department of Social Work at Salisbury University. In this blog post, they write about designing and self-publishing a course workbook for a generalist level basic interviewing skills practice course. They also share results from a pilot evaluation the workbook and supplemental materials.

The cost of textbooks is problematic for many students at American colleges and universities. College textbook prices have increased by 82% from 2003 to 2013 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014). This economic injustice causes students to miss out on educational opportunities because they have to prioritize paying for their basic needs over textbooks. According to a 2014 study, over 65% of students reported they did not buy a textbook because the cost was too high (Student PIRGs, 2014). If students are not purchasing the book, they cannot read for class – this revelation caused us to brainstorm creative ways to engage students by lowering the cost of textbooks, in hopes of increasing their reading. As social workers, the NASW Code of Ethics asks us to challenge social injustices. We viewed the price of textbooks as a social injustice and explored options that would allow our students to better participate in their learning experience.

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