#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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#APM17 Day 1 – Infusing Policy Practice into BSW Service Learning Courses

As part of the Field Education Institute, I am presenting a poster with my colleagues Scott Batey, Yookyong Lee, and Chris Walker (University of Alabama at Birmingham) about the work we did for our Policy Practice in Field Education Initiative Grant from the Council on Social Work Education.

Our project involved creating more policy-based learning opportunities into our undergraduate service learning courses, creating a series of policy-focused activities that are  grounded in community-based settings. Our curriculum includes three practice courses with a one-hour service-learning lab.  Students take the courses sequentially and complete 32 hours in service learning at a community-based agency or simulation for each lab. By integrating policy-focused learning activities into these service-learning labs, we hope to bridge the gap between our policy courses and field education while simultaneously providing all of our students the opportunity to see   how policy affects communities and agencies in our state, especially related to issues of economic and racial disparities.  Our specific objectives for this planning grant included: 1) Incorporate at least one policy-based assignment or learning opportunity into each of the service learning labs in our practice sequence; 2) increase and strengthen the number of service learning community partners with local and state-wide advocacy agencies focused on addressing issues of economic and racial disparities; and 3) Enhance our field advisory board by increasing membership to include community partners from our service learning projects, especially partners from policy-based agencies.

Here is a copy of our poster:

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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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