Harnessing Technology for Social Work Scholarship: #CSWResearch Day at Ohio State University

The blog post was written by myself and Melanie Sage of the University at Buffalo, and we describe our visit with the College of Social Work at the Ohio State University in August 2017, where we talked about how social work faculty can harness technology for their social work scholarship.  We also interviewed two of our OSU colleagues, Drs. Bridget Freisthler and Holly Dabelko-Schoeny, about our presentation and how it supports their use of technology for scholarship. This is cross-posted at the Human Services Information Technology Association’s (HusITa) Blog: http://www.husita.org/harnessing-social-media-for-social-work-research-and-scholarship/

Dissemination to the right stakeholders is a crucial part of social work research.  However, as social work academics, we are often trained to think that publication in peer-reviewed journals is the pinnacle of sharing our research with our peers and the academy.  But for our work to have substantial impact, we want it to reach service providers, communities, and consumers, too.  Access to peer-reviewed journals can be challenging due to cost,availability, and complexity. Increasingly, academics and research scientists are turning to social media platforms as a way to disseminate and engage with others about their work.

One of the early studies looking at the value of social media in research dissemination was an article by Darling, Shiffman, Côté, and Drew (2013) titled The role of twitter in the life cycle of a scientific publication. Based on a survey of 116 marine biologists, they found that scientists who used Twitter for professional reasons could rapidly develop new research ideas and easily share works-in-progress for pre-reviews.  Additionally, these researchers found they could communicate their findings not only with other academics, but also with broader audiences such as decision makers, journalists and the public in a way that could amplify the scientific and social impact of publications, and that sharing in this way increased their citations too.  Here is an infographic of the article’s major findings.

So how does this translate to social work research?  Melanie Sage and I present to multiple audiences, from peers to conference attendees, about the role of social media in social work scholarship. For years, we have been using social media and technology tools to connect with colleagues, share research, and collaborate.  Based on our expertise in this area, we were invited to lead a discussion about the role of technology in social work scholarship at the Social Work’s Grand Challenge Initiative Conference (#GC4SW) held at the University of Southern California (April 25-28, 2017). In this discussion, we shared the ways in which social media can be a tool to help social work academics and practitioners to discover and share knowledge, as well as build relationships for collaborative work. Social media platforms are well-placed to allow social workers across the professional continuum to engage with each other, creating communities of learning and practice that bridge the gap between practice and research in social work. We suggested four practices with social media for advancing the Grand Challenges for Social Work; you can read about them here.

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Harnessing Social Media for Social Good at #CG4SW

Last week, Melanie Sage and I led a discussion at the Social Work’s Grand Challenge Initiative Conference (#GC4SW) held at the University of Southern California (April 25-28, 2017).  We attended the last day of the conference, which focused on for Harnessing Technology for Social Good.  If you are not familiar with this challenge, its focus includes leveraging digital and social technologies to enhance, improve, and expand the reach and influence of social services, evidence-based social work practices, and innovative programs.  Two white papers outline how social work can use technology to help individuals, communities, and organizations:

The use of social media is omnipresent in our daily lives, and ahead of policy and ethics in social work. Technology policy standards typically do not address concerns of social workers, including communication with clients, and professional values of privacy and confidentiality, safety, and self-determination.  As a profession, we have few research studies about the use of social media in practice and mixed professional guidance around how to best engage with social media as part of our work with clients, constituents, and communities. Some in social work take a risk-averse approach to social media, limiting how and who they interact with on virtual platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, this Grand Challenges supports broader thinking and creativity in how social workers can engage with social media, especially to address the 11 other grand challenges.

As part of our discussion, we proposed that social media can be a tool to help social work academics and practitioners to discover and share knowledge as well as build relationships for collaborative work. Social media platforms are well-placed to allow social workers across the professional continuum to engage with each other, creating communities of learning and practice that bridge the gap between practice and research in social work. We suggested four practices with social media for advancing the Grand Challenges for Social Work:

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Day Two of #SWDE2017 – Professional Learning Networks for Social Work

On April 13th, Melanie SageNancy J. Smyth and I presented at the third annual Social Work Distance Education Conference sponsored by Our Lady of the Lake University’s Worden School of Social Service.

Our workshop informed participants about the mechanics as well as the advantages and disadvantages of professional learning networks (PLN), both as a scholar and in the classroom.  A professional learning network (also known as a personalized learning network) includes technology-based tools and processes used by a social worker to stay up-to-date and share information about current news, practice knowledge, and the latest research findings. Participants learned how to establish and grow their own PLN, integrate PLNs into a classroom or curriculum, and appreciate how the theory of Connectivism (Siemens, 2005) informs the practice of PLNs.

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

A copy of the Professional Learning Network (PLN) Worksheet shared during the session is available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByR_E-iQH7PdT2t1WV9YYnlZV00/view?usp=sharing

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Day Two of #SWDE2017 – Integrating Technology-rich Assignments in the Curriculum

From April 12-14, 2017,  the third annual Social Work Distance Education Conference was sponsored by Our Lady of the Lake University’s Worden School of Social Service in San Antonio, TX.

Melanie Sage & Todd Sage of the University of North Dakota, Ellen Belluomini of Dominican University, and I participated in a panel discussion about incorporating technology-based assignments in the social social work curriculum.  We talked about three different types of technology-based assignments that can be incorporated into almost any classroom: Twitter Chats, Technology Assessments, and Infographics.

You can access a copy of the slides here: https://www.slideshare.net/laurelhitchcock/integrating-technologyrich-assignments-in-the-curriculum.  We also have some assignment specific resources:

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#BPDNOLA17 – Road Map for Success: Incorporating Social Media in the Social Work Classroom

At BPD in 2016, I attended a wonderful session by Drs. Becky Anthony and Jennifer Jewell of Salisbury University titled Building student connection by utilizing social media in the social work classroom.  They graciously wrote about this presentation in a blog post – Social Media How-To Guide for Social Work Educators.  Today (Saturday, March 4th), Becky and I will be presenting about how we both are the using guidelines that she and Jennifer developed, giving examples from our own teaching and classroom assignments. Please join us at 8:00 AM in Bayside B at the Sheraton in New Orleans for our presentation.

Here is a link to the slides from our presentation: https://www.slideshare.net/laurelhitchcock/bpdnola17-road-map-for-success-incorporating-social-media-in-the-social-work-classroom

Also, information about developing professional social media guidelines for the classroom can be found here.

Here is our abstract with the learning objectives:

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#BPDNOLA17 – Visualizing Data: Infographic Assignments across the Social Work Curriculum

Today is the third day (Friday, March 3rd) of #BPDNOLA17, and I am presenting with some of my favorite #swtech peeps, Dr. Nathalie Jones of Tarleton State University and Dr. Melanie Sage of the University of North Dakota, at 1:45pm in Bayside C at the Sheraton in New Orleans.  We will be talking about an infographic assignment that we jointly developed and implemented with students at each of our campuses. The use of infographics for classroom assignments is becoming commonplace in higher education, although less is known about its use in social work education. Our workshop will review how we collaborated to develop, implement and evaluate an infographic assignment for courses across the social work curriculum.

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