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