I used to blog about conferences I’ve attended, until Covid stopped all my work travel. the April Social Work Distance Education con is online again this year and I’ll blog that, because why not.
This is my third year attempting to capture at least a small part of the #SWDE2019 conference in a series of blog posts. I don’t think I will ever crack how to do this “right”, but this year I’m doing a few different things:
- On this blog, I’ll post Twitter highlights and a few extra comments.
- Over at MacroSW.com, I’ll post on any Macro-related stuff that I’ll encounter at this conference.
- If you are a MacroSW Patreon member, I’ll post a few pictures from the conference location and some additional comments.
As always, thank you to Our Lady of the Lake University for making this conference a success.
We’re back in San Antonio for the 4th annual Social Work Distance Education conference. It’s been a beautiful day here, and for many of us, it’s been great to see friends and colleagues. I had the pleasure of doing just that, gathering for lunch along the river walk.
I wrote about #SWDE2017 conference last year, and I reflected on how the sessions moved from the general discussions of program design and useful applications to more focused sessions. Last year’s theme of social justice and most of the presentations were anchored accordingly. This year the theme is advancing social and economic justice through innovation, and the focus is clear: this first day, in particular, the final session oI attended, created a “think tank” environment of big-picture conversations. This may be where this conference may be headed: a stronger focus on futurism, where we are headed, and how social workers can (and should) be leaders.
As always with a conference like this, hard choices need to be made…I wish I could be everywhere. Here’s a sample of what I learned today:
Keynote: Kaye Shelton, Ph.D.
Dr. Shelton is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership in the Center for Doctoral Studies in the College of Education and Human Development at Lamar University. She’s a prolific writer on the subject of online education. After this presentation, An Administrator’s Guide to Online Education. After this presentation, I decided I need to read this book in its entirety. Dr. Shelton covered a range of techniques instructors can use to engage students meaningfully. (I found myself reflecting on the need to be more active and attentive to my online student discussion boards.) Dr. Shelton pointed us to a couple of resources she developed: OLC Quality Scorecard, where many free resources for improving online teaching and learning can be found; and Tip and Tricks for Teaching Online .
Session 1: Dr. Christie Mason of Loyola University spoke on principles and strategies for fostering community in online classes. She communicated the fundamental need to make sure our students feel safe to learn online. This can be assisted by strategically using informal discussion, developing meaningful approaches to introducing ourselves to the class. I learned a lot about using the tools on online education (#edtech) to encourage this community building in the online classroom environment.
Session 2: Matthea Marquart of Columbia University presented on methods and approaches to engaging in-real-life (IRL) students and online students in the same space. I am grateful Prof. Marquart presented on this topic, as I’ve seen how technology has helped move these historically partitioned student groups into the same general space.
Session 3: The end of the first day was a perfect time for a “big picture” presentation and Dr. Ellen Belluomini of Brandman University came through with a future-focused discussion on innovation through disruption. Dr. Belluomini didn’t shy away from giving examples of the perils of groupthink and made clear social workers must be leaders in research and practice, even if that means looking outside the traditional models of tenure-track promotional steps.
This year we were on the rooftop. The weather was beautiful. I traveled from the Midwest to be here, and within a few minutes of the reception, I’d forgotten all about the snowstorm we’d endured there just a few days ago.
I’ll have more tomorrow. Unfortunately, Storify is no longer available to bring together the numerous social media posts out there…I’m looking for a solution and I’m open to suggestions.
Update: Whoops, I used an incorrect hashtag. I’ve corrected and reposted this.
This Tuesday I’ll be heading out to the 4th Annual Social Work Distance Education Conference in San Antonio, Texas. As a social work distance education administrator and clinical professor. I’m grateful this conference exists. I learn a lot every year.I meet and catch up with a lot of great people in the field. I’m so grateful for the host institution, Our Lady of the Lake University. Information about the conference is here.
I’ll be posting on Twitter at @spcummings using the hashtag #SWDE2018. I’ll post here as well in longer form. Twitter has long taken over the micro-blogging space on the web. We used to blog everything in one personal or professional space, but now blog spaces like this one seem more relevant with fewer posts, in longer form. That wasn’t the case in the last decade. In 2003, when I started playing with the blogging environment, the message I kept getting was: blog often, all the time, and keep it short. Then Facebook and Twitter came along. Both those platforms are enormous, and allow for people to come together in ways sharing personal blog links simply can’t do. What blogs can do is get a deeper feel for an experience. There’s this technique in Twitter, where the user can thread comments over several posts, but I’m going to simply write more here. I will anchor my posts here through Twitter (that hashtag again: #SWDE2018).
(I’ll be presenting twice this year, one session and one poster. I’ll post more about this tomorrow.)
I’m planning to attend the 2017 Council of Social Work Education Annual Program in Dallas. This is my fourth APM, and once again, I’m grateful for the opportunity to connect with and learn from colleagues across the spectrum of social work practice and education.
I’ll be participating in two presentations:
- “The licensure exam: development and evaluation of a synchronous group intervention.” (Sunday, October 22, 7:30 a.m.) Students in my program express anxiety over the pending licensing exam, as it impacts their ability to transition to professional engagement after graduating. I developed an entirely online, synchronous seminar that reviews and deconstructs test items provided by the ASWB as part of their group study package. While our school’s pass rates are high, I was interested in finding out of the sessions impacted students’ anxiety about the exam. Professor Carol Coohey and I will present on the intervention design and results from the study. ( 7:30 a.m….bring coffee.)
- “Pioneering the Grand Challenges on Social Media as Macro Practice.” (Saturday, October 21, 2:00 p.m.) This presentation is summarized in this blog post, on MacroSW.com. If you aren’t familiar with #MacroSW, check out the About page. Also, check out the topic for this Thursday’s chat here. If you are attending the conference in Dallas, follow both the #MacroSW and #APM17…we are planning to have a meetup to join in the Twitter chat at 9 p.m. Eastern/8 p.m. Central (Dallas is included in the Central Time zone…yes, I had to look it up).
I’ll be blogging throughout the conference, mostly as a way to capture the environment and overall experience. I can be found here and at @spcummings 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?)
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!
I’ll post thoughts on day two shortly, in the meantime…
I did get to see a little of the area tonight. While I do get work done while at conferences, the benefit of getting to know your colleagues is that you can go out together to see the area. I was advised to run along the riverwalk. Later, we had dinner at Mi Tierra.
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.
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.