Review of Teaching & Learning in Social Work Blog Posts for 2016

The end of a year is a natural time for reflection, and this year I offer a review of all the posts that appeared on Teaching & Learning in Social Work Education during 2016.  My goal for this blog is to write or publish at least two posts a month, which happened more months than not.  I also recruit other social work educators to write about their own experiences in the classroom or with scholarship, and also write about about all of my presentations, either at conferences or as a part of a workshop.  This year, I published a total of 25 blog posts, representing work with numerous collaborators and good colleagues.  Below is a list of this year’s post grouped around the topics of assignments, projects, guest educator posts, and conference presentations.

Assignments:  These blog posts provide information, how-to tips, and ideas about different types of technology-based assignments for the social work classroom:
– Job Shadowing on Twitter with Joy Jones on 1/8/16
– Tweet, Tweet!: Using Live Twitter Chats in Social Work on Education with Dr. Jimmy Young on 1/29/16
– Using #MacroSW in the Classroom with the @OfficialMacroSW Partners on 3/14/16
– Using Pinterest in Undergraduate Social Work Education – #BPDTX16 with Dr. Lisa Baker on 3/31/16
– Revised Technology-Based Learning Task List for Social Work Education with Drs. Melanie Sage and Nancy J. Smyth on 6/13/16

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Using Learning Wheels: The #APLOL16 Connected Conference

In this short blog, we (Amanda Taylor and Laurel Hitchcock) outline the success of the #APLOL16 Conference LearningWheel and through doing so hope to encourage social work and indeed other professions to consider this methodology as a conduit for collating and disseminating conference content.

Why a Conference Learning Wheel?

aplearningwheelI  reached out to Amanda earlier this year about setting up a Conference LearningWheel for Alabama Possible’s 2016 Lifetime of Learning Conference because I had previously participated in the development of LearningWheels for other conferences, and saw several benefits for #APLOL16.  First, a Conference LearningWheel helps document learning that occurs during and after a conference.  By contributing short sentences (which become spokes of the wheel), conference attendees can share their insights, feedback and comments about the different conference sessions with an audience beyond that session and even beyond the conference.  Second, the LearningWheel also captures how conference attendees can best communicate with each other during or after a conference, and with others such as colleagues, students, community partners, or any like-minded person.  This is ideal for encouraging conference attendees to apply what they learned in their professional settings and promote collaborations.  Finally, I hope Alabama Possible can use the Conference LearningWheel as an evaluation tool to help assess the outcomes from #APLOL16 and to plan next year’s conference.  

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Career Building Skills for Social Workers: #MacroSW Chat 5/14 8 PM CST

Melissa Whatley, UAB Career & Professional Development

Melissa Whatley, UAB Career & Professional Development

Joy Jones, UAB Career & Professional Development

Joy Jones, UAB Career & Professional Development

This is a re-post from the #MacroSW Chat website.  I will be hosting this chat on 5/14/15 so please join us!  Click here for more information on how to participate in a live Twitter chat.

Are you a newly graduated social worker looking for a job? Thinking about going back to graduate school for that MSW? Then join us for a chat with guest experts Melissa Whatley & Joy Jones from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) Career & Professional Development. They will be answering your most pressing questions about searching and interviewing for that first social work job, how to tell your professional story through a resume, and best practices for networking, off-line & online.

We also invite social workers to share their own experiences about finding a social work job, especially a macro position, how they made the decision to go back to graduate school, or their best tip for networking, interviewing or building a resume.

Here is how the chat will work:
Melissa (tweeting from @uabcareerserveand Joy (tweeting from @UABJoy ) will be answering your most pressing career development questions so come prepared.  You can also submit your questions in advance to @laurelhitchcock.  Melissa and Joy will be selecting questions from your submissions/posts.  (Disclaimer: We may not be able to get to everyone’s question due to the time limit of the chat). Possible topics include:

1. What needs to be included on my resume?
2. How can I use social media to get a job?
3. What can I expect during a job interview?
4. What do I need to know to be successful in a social work career?

We also invite anyone joining our chat to share their thoughts and best career advice along side Melissa & Joy.

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Lessons Learned from #SWDE2015

For those of you who missed the Social Work Distance Education Conference (#SWDE2015), hosted by the School of Social Work at the University of Indiana and the Council on Social Work Education, it was held almost two weeks ago (April 15-17, 2015) in Indianaplois, IN.  I spent two days at the conference, and it is clear to me that social work educators are no longer discussing if we are going to take our courses and curricula online; the question is how are we going to do it.

After spending time talking with colleagues, listening to presentations from social workers teaching all over the country and following the #SWDE2015 comments on Twitter, I have come away with three lessons learned:

1. We need an updated research agenda in social work education that focuses on evidence-based practice for teaching.  The trend to online education in social work not only raises questions about its quality and effectiveness, it should also make us re-think what we are doing in seated classrooms.  For example, how do we know that face-to-face, in-class discussion actually increase social work students’ understanding and learning?  Where is our evidence to support this time-honored teaching method in social work education? Or are we just more comfortable with it? As we begin assessing the quality of our pedagogies, we can start by questioning our own internal biases and assumptions about what is quality teaching and learning for our profession.  Is the seated classroom the best way to teach practice skills because that is how I learned practice skills or because there is evidence to support it? From there, we can begin to develop and test meaningful research questions about the effectiveness of our teaching pedagogies. So the next time, you find yourself saying out loud that we can’t do this or that in an online classroom, stop and go to the literature or your colleagues for the evidence.  If there is no evidence to be found, you have just identified your next research project.

2. We need to look and work outside our professional silos in academics. Social work education needs to turn its gaze outward.  We must look to the research being done by other disciplines as they grapple with the same opportunities and challenges of incorporating technology into their pedagogies.  Our colleagues in nursing, medicine, library sciences, counseling and teacher education are also teaching in online environments and are also assessing how to move their courses and curricula online.  Their scholarship could help inform our own educational research agenda.  We need to get out of our offices and start walking across campus to meet, talk and develop projects with other disciplines around online education. Interdisciplinary efforts and collaboration will help us get caught up with the face-paced world of online/techology-based edcuation and give us the opportunity to learn and ultimately share social work education’s unique and valuable contributions to teaching and learning in the 21st century.  My own journey as a tech-savvy educator started by collaborating with a talented librarian who showed me the power of brining social media into the classroom.

3. Finally, we need to invest more in our own professional development as educators.  Incorporating new and rapidly changing technology into seated and online classrooms requires new skills and knowledge that many of us did not learn during our own social work training.  As individual educators, we need to assess and improve our own skills with technology and online education by reading the literature, attending institutional workshops and trainings, collaborating with colleagues and taking the leap of faith to try something new with our students.  Administrators also need to support these activities and provide resources (time and money) to help us improve skills and transform content and pedagogy for online environments.  And along the way, we need to help our students, alumni, community partners, and fellow social work practitioners make the transition too.

If you are interested in learning more about the #SWDE2015 Conference, please visit the website at:  You will find a copy of the Conference Program, and my understanding is that videos and slideshows  of some presentations will be posted soon.

Or you can also review tweets from the conference in this Storify transcript.

Please feel free to post any comments or questions for this post.  I am very interested in what others have to say and continuing the conversation.

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Follow-up to Live Twitter Chat on March 12, 2015


This is a short post to follow-up on the second live #MacroSW chat that Jimmy Young and I hosted on March 12, 2015 about the documentary Inequality for All.  Once again, we had a great turnout and an inspired conversation.  Others have written more about this chat, so I am going to direct you to their posts:

1. Chat Statistics: The #MacroSW Chat folks reported that there were almost 100 people on the chat who shared 640 posts in one hour.  Here is a link to more analytics about the chat.

2. Chat Transcript: Here is a link to the chat transcript in Storify, a web-based program marketed as a story-telling software.  It also is a great tool for summarizing tweets from live chats and other types of conversations on Twitter.

3. Chat Summary:  Jimmy Young wrote a solid summary of the chat from the perspective of a social work educator.  Like Jimmy, I find live Twitter chats a compelling learning tool for bachelor-level social work students.  During the chats, I see students engaging in public discourse on vital policy issues with their peers and other professionals, not just in the classroom.  They are actively connecting with others, sharing and thinking critically about poverty issues when participating in a live chat. Look for more information near future from Jimmy and I about using live Twitter chats in the social work classroom.

Again, many thanks to #MacroSW chat and our host from @MSWatUSC,  Kristin Battista-Frazee (@porndaughter).  They sponsored, promoted and summarized the chat, and are all around great people!  Also, a big thanks to all the students, educators and practitioners who showed up and participated in our national conversation – including social work students and educators from University of Buffalo, University of Tennessee, University of Nebraska at Kearney University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Jacksonville State University to name a few.

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Using Innovative Content to Tell the Social Work Story by Chris Ingrao

Chris Ingrao PhotoMr.  Chris Ingrao is the Community Manager of SocialWork@Simmons, the online Masters of Social Work program, offered through the Simmons College School of Social Work. In this blog post, Mr. Ingrao writes about how digital technologies can be used to curate content about the history of social work.  

The possibilities are endless when it comes to curating content for social workers. There is a seemingly infinite amount of topics that touch the lives of professionals in micropractice that are worth sharing. However, I have found that the history behind the profession is rarely discussed. Despite having immersed myself in all things social services for some time now, I discovered that I too knew very little about the historical milestones and legislative shifts that ultimately resulted in what we now know as modern day social work. As a result, our team performed research around the origins of the social services industry and created a chronological resource documenting the evolution of the profession.

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