The one change I will definitely make this year (2018 edition).

I know we are deep into January. Resolutions should have been made and broken by now! I try to avoid the resolution trap. We can make small changes at any time. Here’s one.

Technology is a part of my life. I’ve adapted my smartphone so that I can access
my work, read the news, listen to music, and track my exercise. By working on healthy digital literacy skills, I hope to continue harnessing this tool to enhance my life. The same goes for social media. I read a lot of blog posts about the scourge of Twitter or the life-suck of Facebook. I have concerns about the use of these media platforms, but digital literacy is required to make sure these products don’t overtake my life. Perhaps it’s optimistic, but platforms like these require harnessing. The responsibility of digital literacy rests with me, the user.

That said, I experienced a vacation from these technologies. Literally. I traveled out of the country and left the phone in the suitcase. This was instructive. I used my phone as a camera.

What did I enjoy not having? Notifications. I don’t need them. I turned them off. Just like 2006, I can at least decide when I access information via these platforms.

I did miss chatting with friends via Twitter. I think the ability to text friends has a lot of relevance in an adult’s life. I felt a little cut-off from work, where I do derive satisfaction and identity. I missed accessing music streaming.

So, that’s the little thing I’m changing: I will create a boundary between myself and my digital, automated life.

 

Where I really hear my student’s voices? The online discussion board.

I started using discussion boards out of complete practicality. I had to be away for a conference, and I needed a solution for my evening class. I’ve come to use the discussion board in almost all my classes now because I find the use of discussion boards very helpful in engaging students in a different way. When I read student posts, I often realize that I may have been underestimating their interest or willingness to go into depth on a topic or theme.

A colleague asked me for some design tips. Here’s what I typically use.

 Planning:

  1. If you know you will be absent for the week, it’s good to give as much lead time as you can so students know what’s going on. At the very least, let students know at the beginning of your class this could be coming if you need to have a backup plan for an inclement weather week.
  2. Decide how you will grade or record the results of participation. In my case, I usually just count it towards attendance, but you can make planned online discussions part of a graded assignment.

Structure:

  1. For online discussions, I will usually create 4 questions, and let the students select 2 to answer.
  2. Students are directed to provide an answer that is 75 to 100 words.
    1. I set a deadline for this. If the class meets Monday, I will set a deadline that the first question/s be answered with a post by Wednesday evening at 11:59 p.m.
  3. Students are directed to provide two answers, one answer to two students.
    1. These answers should be 50 to 100 words and should be more than a “ditto” answer. They should provide positive support, challenging follow-up, or something that resembles a “yes, and…”.
  4. The answers should also have a deadline. If questions are answered by Wednesday, follow-ups should be completed by Sunday evening.

This is just a quick review of how I set discussion boards up.

This week’s #MacroSW chat (9/14/17): The Role of Social Media in Campaigns

By Rachel L. West Barrack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign was a game changer. It was the first time a political campaign had effectively leveraged social media. The September 14th chat will examine the role social media plays in political campaigns and how public officials use it to communicate with constituents. It will cover the platforms […]

via The Role of Social Media in Campaigns #MacroSW 9/14/17 9 PM EST — #MacroSW

#MacroSW Chat this Thursday: Technology standards & the impact on social work

Have you heard? The technology standards have been updated. This will be the focus for this week’s #MacroSW Chat.

From the MacroSW blog:

Technology is no longer an optional part of social work practice. Videoconferencing, online social networking, social robots, digital documentation and storage, texting, mobile apps, and other forms of technology are used in many realms of social work practice. The recently published Standards for Technology in Social Work Practice offers a roadmap to think critically about […]

via #MacroSW Chat, 7/20/2017: Technology Standard’s Impact in Social Work —

Net neutrality is definitely something you should care about.

An internet that’s managed and manipulated by for-profit interests may sound like the reality we live in, but it’s not. Yes, when you access broadband service, you (or your institution or employer) are paying a fee. But the important feature we take for granted is this pipeline is more or less the same wherever we go.

I won’t use this space to tackle the numerous concerns we already struggle with (lack of consumer choice to access the web, even more limited access in rural areas, the fact that the United States is, compared to the rest of the world, suffering from slower bandwidth). What’s at stake is the basic ability to access the web without a myriad of commercial interests gouging you as a consumer. Worse, grassroots organizations, which rely on an open web to get their message out, could very well experience suppression if net neutrality is no longer the standard line.

You can take action: contact your state representatives and demand support for Net Neutrality.

Social Work and Technology Standards are officially updated (!)

If you’re interested in how social workers engage with technology, you’re probably aware that the practice standards on this subject needed some updating. The previous statement from NASW was published in 2005. This week, the official update was released. Find a comfortable chair, block off some time, and read them here. For what it’s worth, I’ll provide a few thoughts in this space shortly.

Reference:

National Association of Social Workers (2017). NASW, ASWB, CSWE, & CSWA standards for technology in social work practice. Washington, D.C.

Retrieved at:

http://www.socialworkers.org/includes/newIncludes/homepage/PRA-BRO-33617.TechStandards_FINAL_POSTING.pdf

#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?)

IMG_5879
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!