#SWDE2017, Day 3: That’s a wrap!

One more hat tip to Sean Erreger (@StuckonSW) for putting together Day 3 of the #SWDE2017 in Storify. Check it out, as always, as well as Sean’s blog, and follow him on Twitter

Well, that was short and amazing several days. I just got back and now I can write this wrap-up post. (Seriously, American Airlines, no wifi on the plane from Dallas to Des Moines?)

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I suppose I could just look out the window…

Today was a half-day with four sessions. (As you may have gathered, I advise you click on Sean Erreger’s Storify link above.) I was able to take in presentations on helping distance education students become part of the school identity. For many online programs, particularly programs where online/hybrid programming is just starting, this is key theme. Students participating in fully-online programs are at risk of feeling isolated. “On ground” residential programs can’t take any part of what the on-ground experience provides; so, how can we transfer that? Programs have been doing short, intensive “institutes” that last over the weekend or through the week, usually at the start of the academic year, where students in hybrid or fully-online programs travel to the mother campus. The feedback discussed in these sessions suggest this is a highly positive experience for students in online and hybrid programs; I’ll always seek out these presentations to learn how this kind of student orientation and enculturation evolves.

All the sessions I attended throughout the week were engaging and thorough; a couple could have been for any conference, if not specifically one tailored for distance education. At this point, I would support argument that “distance education” may soon require less emphasis as a model for social work students, as the delivery becomes more ubiquitous. I suspect this is the case; at the core of all these presentations and discussions is the passion and focus people have for the social work profession. Another post for another time. Speaking of which…

…while on the wi-fi-free plane ride back (again, c’mon, seriously?) I wrote up a list of things I’ve learned to adapt my conference attendance capabilities. Rather than post that here, I’ll save it for a future post.

A big thanks to the people who made #SWDE2017 happen, especially the hosts, OLLU!  Here’s to #SWDE2018!

 

 

 

 

#SWDE2017 Day 2: The FOMO is real.

FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out,  and I’m comfortable admitting that I felt this yesterday. Or, at least, a scaled-down version of it.

FOMO’s intended meaning describes the fear you experience when you think your peers are doing something more interesting than you, which forces you to check your social media constantly to see if you’re being left behind. Scale this to conference attendance: I go over the list of presentations each hour, a select the ones most appropriate for my professional development, and I go to those sessions.  But wait! This is a social work conference, and everyone’s presentations have some meaning to me. I consider myself a generalist; I look at the batch of choices for each other and, well, I do a lot of second- and third-guessing, because it all seems to connect.

Let me use this brief recap to capture what I’m talking out: Yesterday, I learned about how to use GIS mapping to get a better idea of what field placements may work better based on students wants and needs. In another session, I learned how WordPress (the platform I use for this blog) can be woven into a course on macro practice, so that students can engage with an area of interest and actually connect with their community. An MSW student presented on incorporating the use of filmed media (movies) and applying character narratives to key theories in a course on Human Behavior in the Social Environment.

Here’s where the FOMO kicks in: social workers in distance education have a tendency to embrace technology, particularly social media. If you’ve been attending this conference, you’ve seen some participants tapping away on their mobile device. This is likely because they are hash-tagging out key points during presentations using #SWDE2017. It’s a wonderful way to get further insight into what’s going on (check out the Storify link and the end of this post. The downside? For me, it’s not that I want to hop rooms to go to the session I clearly should have attended. Instead, I’d like the opportunity to experience both presentations in full.

Here’s a sample of tweets I saw while I was in other, equally engaging sessions.

The bottom line is, no: I can’t attend it all. What I can do (and hey, this is a conference, and for this moment in time, we’re IRL) is seek, reach out, connect, network with these academics, practitioners, and thought leaders. Social media does bring people into that community that keeps people connected.

Hat tip to @StuckonSW! Check out Sean Erreger’s #storify of Day 2 of the #SWDE Conference here

Day 1: SWDE’s third year is a different experience.

I recall attending the first SWDE conference in 2015. It was a small conference, but the information was overwhelming. I’d come to get a handle on best practices for online programming. That topic was well-covered, as well as just about any topic you could imagine. I came away feeling well-informed, and a bit wrung out.

In 2017, the focus of the program is Elevating Social Justice (hey, it’s right there in the title of the conference), and the focus provides a different feel. While the focus on useful applications and course design is present, the angle on social justice adds to the social work focus.

For example, I attended a presentation on social justice teaching through distance education technology yesterday, a presentation that I don’t think would have happened six years ago. Maybe that’s not accurate, but I just don’t recall educators embracing the notion using web-based technology in this way in the not-to-distant past.

The venue has changed; after two years in Indianapolis, social work educators are gathering in San Antonio, adding to the sense of a focus shift. The train has left the station; In three years, distance education doesn’t have to defend its existence; it’s a part of the landscape of social work education.

UPDATE: Sean Errenger (@stuckonSW) created a #Storify of #SWDE2017 Day 1 – Check it out here.

Last note: Personally, I’ve never been here before, so at least for me the whole impression is “new”. (Random blog fact: one of my seven-year-old son’s favorite movies is a ’80s film shot in San Antonio. He’ll be pleased to know I was here for this reason.)

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We’re not in Indianapolis this year.

Heading to SWDE 2017!

I was up at 4:00 this morning. Typically, I make room for conference travel, but this time, I’m practicing the art of cramming. I’ll be at the hotel right before the conference starts today. This is the third social work distance education conference, and I’ve attended them all so far.

My scheduling trade-off has an unintended side effect; seeing friends and colleagues already at the conference site, posting to social media, does make me feel like I’m missing out. I have to remind myself I need to work yesterday and would have needed to stay put in my hotel room if I was in San Antonio last night (or suffer the consequences of bad decision-making). I also recall bailing out of my last conference, switching to an earlier flight to save half a day and get back home sooner.

Going to #SWDE next week?

I am starting to blog again doing what I did last time: writing about my conference experiences. Next week I’ll be attending the 3rd Social Work Distance Education Conference, and I’ll write about it in this space. Good times!

If you plan to be in San Antonio next week, I hope to see you there.