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 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:

You can access a copy of the presentation slides here: 

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Using Technology for Life-Long Learning in Social Work: Professional Learning Networks

This post was written and edited by Nancy J. Smyth, Melanie 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.   

Professional Learning Networks (PLN) exist when social workers use social media to collect information related to professional interests, share this information with others, and collaborate with others on projects (Richardson & Mancebelli, 2011). For more details about PLN, please see this blog post titled Personal Learning Networks for Social Workers (Hitchcock, 2015).  A PLN is unique to each person, and learning how others structure their PLN can be helpful in setting up your own network.  In this blog post, we asked two social work educators to share their best tips for using technology as a tool for learning.

Kelly Joplin, an Assistant Professor and Director of Field Education from the Carver School of Social Work at Campbellsville University, uses a productivity app called Evernote to support her personal learning network (PLN).  She writes:

I love Evernote! It keeps me organized. It has folders where I collect articles, videos, audio clips, pdfs, maps, and links to resources for each of my classes. I use many different types of media in my classes and this makes pulling those different pieces onto the classroom screen seamless. I do not have to toggle back and forth between apps or the internet therefore eliminating the uncomfortable classroom lag time while bringing up media. (I find I lose students in the lag.)

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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:

A copy of the Professional Learning Network (PLN) Worksheet shared during the session is available here:

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Review of #SWDE2016

In case you didn’t make it to the Second Annual Social Work Distance Education Conference (#SWDE2016) in Indianapolis this year, there are plenty of online resources to make you feel like you were there…almost.

First, the conference website has a downloadable copy of the program from this year and last year (2015), and will soon have copies of handouts from this year’s breakout sessions.  You can also find handouts from last year’s sessions as well as videos from the plenary sessions.  Check back soon for this year’s information.

Next, Sean Erreger (@StuckonSW) created a Storify transcript of tweets from the conference, using the conference hashtag #SWDE2016.  This transcript will show you who was tweeting and what they were saying about the conference and individual sessions.  You can also search for the hashtag directly on Twitter to see the same tweets. You should also check out Sean’s video where he interviews three of the conference’s participants – Melanie Sage, Todd Sage & Linda Grobman.

Finally, here are some blog posts about happenings at the conference:

Tools for Practice Tuesday: Keeping up with #SWDE2016: This post is by Sean Erreger who observed the conference from afar.

Social Work in Distance Education (SWDE) 2016 Conference: This post is Melanie Sage who attended the conference.

#SWDE2016 Incorporating Digital & Social Technologies into Social Work Education: This post highlights the session that Melanie Sage, Nancy J. Smyth and I did about incorporating technology in teaching.

#SWDE2016 Teaching & Learning Professional Social Work Skills w/ Twitter: This post describes the conference session about the work Jimmy Young and I have done on using Twitter in the Classroom.

Did anyone else blog about the conference? Please post a comment and I will add your post this list!


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Job Shadowing on Twitter

JobShadow_Twitter_1.18.15I’m always looking for a new way to incorporate Twitter into my social work courses.  So I was pleased when my colleague Joy Jones with UAB’s Career and Professional Services suggested a new idea to me – a virtual job shadowing experience on Twitter.  The event goes like this – a professional agrees to tweet about her job during a set date and time, students can follow along via Twitter, and then tweet back questions or comments to the professional.  Similar to a live twitter chat, students can use a computer, tablet or mobile device from anywhere, offering flexibility and the opportunity to engage with others who are also following the job shadowing. Joy had all the details worked out for an event including the job shadowing candidate, logistics, and a hashtag.  All I had to do was recruit the students.  I offered it as an extra credit opportunity for students in my two classes last semester.

The event happened on 11/18/15 from 1 – 5 pm with Madison Darling from Blanket Fort Hope, a local non-profit agency in Alabama fighting child human trafficking.  Madison agreed to tweet every 30 minutes about what she was doing that day and answer questions from students as frequently as possible.  We had about fifteen  participants total, along with myself and Joy.  Questions ranged from “what is like working with children” to “how do I volunteer with your agency.”  Madison and one of her colleagues did a great job answering questions and sharing about their agency and their job duties.  Not only were my students able to network with professionals, a connection was created between my academic department, our campus career services and a community partner.  Click here for a link to the transcript from the event, where you can read the tweets.

Joy and I will working on more of job shadowing events in the coming semester, and here are some suggestions I have for other social work faculty interested in hosting a similar event and/or incorporating this type of job shadowing into a learning activity:

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