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.

Author: Stephen Cummings

I've been involved with the social work field for over 20 years, although I needed a good mentor early on to state explicitly: "You know what you are doing is social work, right?" I worked with a community-based agency for people with intellectual disabilities before seeking my MSW. After graduating, I worked as a hospital social worker for 10 years, focusing on interventions for trauma patients and families. I've had an interest in technology in the field of social work practice, which led me to my current role as the Distance Education Director and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa School of Social Work.

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