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.)
We’re not in Indianapolis this year.