Council on Social Work Education #APM18

Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t written anything on this blog since March. Sorry to my regular readers, all two of you, but life has been pretty busy. I will try to post something about that later.

Here I wanted to post about the 2018 Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting, taking place in Orlando Florida. I am presenting a poster on how Schools of Social Work use Twitter. IMG_6487.jpg

In case you weren’t able to stop by to see the poster I thought I would link to it here and write a little more about this project. Please Retweet #SocialWorkEducation: A Content Analysis of Social Work Programs on Twitter has been a project in a process now for over a year. It all started by tracking the schools or programs of social work on Twitter that I know about. I created a List and then used If This Then That (IFFT) to track all the tweets and download them to a GoogleDoc. There is a much easier way to do this with Python and some Programming but I’m still learning Python 🙂 Plus Twitter seems to change their API often and so this was an easy way that got the job done, even though it took forever!!!

I just want to know how schools and programs use Twitter, what they share, and who they might interact with. Take a look through the slides below for a bit more information.

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I do actually have more tweets to analyze and I am currently working with one of my grad students on developing a coding scheme to apply to a larger dataset. I hope to have this other project done within the next several months so you might be interested in checking back here to see my progress. Or you can always follow me on Twitter 🙂 imgres

The Annual Program Meeting is always fun and informative. I hope I am able to meet you there or catch up with old friends. Stop by and say Hi during my poster presentation.

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Five Years of Twitter Chats

imgresThis Thursday, March 8th, 2018 will mark my fifth year facilitating a live a Twitter chat. The topics have evolved in that time from the first chat focused on #GunControlPolicy in the wake of the Newtown Incident to Economic Inequality. This Thursday I will be once again facilitating the chat on Economic Inequality in partnership with the folks at #MacroSW and hope that you will all join us. You can find out more about the chat, which also uses the Film Inequality for All as a centerpiece for discussion, by visiting macrosw.com.

Looking back over the past five years I have been wondering what this conversation has actually accomplished? Dr. Laurel Hitchcock and I have published some findings in Social Work Education: The International Journal, which demonstrates that students do benefit from the Live chats. However, I can’t help but feel like the discourse in the United States has changed, in part because of social media and in part because of our current state of affairs. I think it is telling that the first chat was centered on Gun Control Policy and here five years later there has been little to no progress on that front. As social workers, even as a society I think we should be able to do better. This does not imply that having a discussion, whether on Twitter or some other form, is ineffective. Rather, I think it points to the fact that we should be discussing more and that we should be trying harder to implement positive social change. I would say that we are doing better in having the discussion on hard topics that were once very hidden and that is progress.

Progress usually comes about through small incremental steps and I feel like too often we are looking for some grand amazing change that we can all point to as success or failure. It’s more complicated than that, which I would hope we can realize is part of the reason why we must persist in our efforts. Thankfully, many amazing social workers and other change agents continue to persist and change the status quo. For example, #MacroSW now offers weekly Live Twitter Chats on a variety of topics. You have the opportunity to engage, listen, and work to enact positive social change. With a Twitter chat? Yes!!! Change has to begin somewhere and it starts with you, me, us.

The problems facing society are great and complex, but that does not mean we should sit back, toss our arms up and simply give up. I understand that some get burnt out and that change is hard. Change is incredibly hard but totally worth it. I hope that you will join us this Thursday at 6pm Central/ 9pm Eastern Standard Time for a chat about Economic Inequality, but I hope that you will stay and become engaged in whatever topic you are passionate about because we need you, and if you are unsure about how to get engaged then just come and listen or “lurk” on the conversation until you are comfortable enough to engage. I hope you will find something of value with our community.

Happy New Year

I can not believe it is already 2018 and that I have not had a blog post in what seems like forever. Clearly, it has been a busy and productive end of 2017 or perhaps I would have written more. Perhaps not! At any rate, I will once again resolve to be more active on my blog this year and include more of what I am doing with research and teaching. I did want to share that I have finished as the Guest Editor for a special issue on digital technologies in the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership. It was exciting and I think we ended up with some great articles that really provide some great additions to the literature. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to share the articles because the journal requires a subscription, which you can find more about here.  Perhaps your library may also be able to get access to the issue, which is the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership (2018) Volume 8, issue 1. Best of luck in this New Year.

Thanks,

J.

Cool Tools & Apps for Education

Anyone who has frequented this blog knows I like technology, and I really like technology that helps with education. I don’t really think technology gets in the way, well maybe it does sometimes, but I think technology can really enhance learning and help students apply their knowledge in a variety of ways.  To that end, I have been trying to collect tools as I use them or experiment with them during my teaching. I have collected a few that I think are pretty cool tools, but I would like help in finding more.

I have created a GoogleDoc where anyone can add tools they use in the process of education or work. I’m particularly interested in education, but you will see there are some tools that help with workflow management and productivity as well. Take a look, but better yet, ADD your own apps and tools to the spreadsheet so we can create a master list of the best tools out there for education.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1vFbAvoBnmAHpJDMeRBk3E33btFeSZqshGd-UifoF4R0/edit#gid=0

A Whole New Semester & Perspective

Media Literacy I can’t believe summer has come and gone. Actually, I can’t believe I haven’t written a blog post since March, WOW. To be fair I have been super busy editing a special issue of the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership, which I hope will be out sometime in the beginning of the next year…AND we added a new addition to the family. Charlie is sure getting bigger and his brothers and sister love having him around. I would just like to get more sleep 🙂

This semester I am teaching courses on social work law and ethics as well as program evaluation and research. The latter course is going to fun and interesting because research is always fun and interesting, right!?! I have a couple ideas so I’m going to try my best to share them here and report on how well they went over in the class. This is part of my attempt to get back into the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, where I have published several pieces on digital technologies, digital literacies or new media in the past. By making this claim, that I plan to share more here, I am hoping it keeps me more accountable but time will tell.

The other day, the wonderful @Melanie Sage asked on Twitter how we are teaching digital literacies this term. There were some great ideas from having students evaluate an app for social work practice to using the new Social Work Tech Standards to create an infographic. I continue to use my new media literacies instrument to assess student’s level of digital literacies, which I have written about here and also provided the survey if you wish to use it here. But in my research class, I am going to talk specifically about the idea of judgment, or crap detection, and critical consumption. We now live in a very dubious society, some contend it’s because of social media and the proliferation of garbage content, but as the internet and social media continue to evolve I think we need to take a step back to reflect and consider several things. This is the critical thought aspect of judgment, where I think we can consider varying viewpoints and empathize with those opinions. The challenge, however, will be politely disagreeing with opinions and helping some to understand facts. I will use my example of cloaked websites but I will also have students try to find their own examples as well. Be it friends on Facebook sharing questionable news pieces or simply blogs that are completely opinion based.

This could be very hard, and I think some students may initially feel it is a waste of time, but my hope is that they learn more about critical consumption of content and the skill of judgment, but more importantly the skill of engagement. The idea of listening to another person’s opinion, empathizing with them, but (if the situation calls for it) providing some fact based education. I really don’t know how this will go, but that lends itself to me being accountable to come back here to share my experience. Wish me luck, and if I have any new ideas between now and then, I will try to share them on this blog as well.

But what about you. How will you be engaging students and developing their digital literacies? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments section.

Thanks,

JY

Are you a Social Media Master?

Social-media-masterI was recently visiting a colleague’s blog and reading through some possible assignments that social work educators can integrate into their curriculum. One of the assignments was about finding an online quiz to assess digital literacies. I am happy to report that I have written about this topic in the academic literature and utilized such a tool. I am now offering that tool here just for the amusement of anyone who wants to see what their New Media Literacy score is. Enjoy.

https://csusm.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_eu1yxhAywTfXcS9

Very Quick UPdate

I can’t believe I haven’t written anything on this blog since the election. I guess I needed that time to recover 🙂

In all seriousness though I have been pretty busy volunteering in a vast array of capacities. I have reviewed lots of tech and social work related proposals and a couple manuscripts. This in addition to my regular academic work is doing a great job of keeping me up at night. Lately, I have been still plugging away on a couple social media related research projects. However, I am slowly trying to move beyond into an area where I have mainly operated as a consultant. I, along with a colleague, conduct a program evaluation for a child sexual abuse prevention play and it is awesome. The play is called Hugs & Kisses and is performed by the Virginia Repertory Theatre out of Richmond, Virginia. The play uses child appropriate language to teach children in grades kindergarten through fifth the concepts of good touch, bad touch, and secret touch. You can check out this short clip for more information and also their website https://va-rep.org/tour/hugs.html.

This play is really amazing and kids absolutely love it. It has been very effective at teaching these important concepts. But where do I come in for all of this besides performing the annual evaluation? Well, my colleague and I are trying to do some more research around the language used in childhood sexual abuse prevention. The literature is surprisingly scant on this topic and anecdotally I have heard that even in abuse investigations some social workers do not adequately investigate for sexual abuse. We wonder if educating children can help with prevention. Well, the obvious answer is yes because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But! We want to know more so we can help create better interventions and take prevention even further.

If you are a social worker, educator, counselor, or helping professional I would be interested to hear your opinion on the topic of childhood sex abuse prevention. Leave a comment or send me an email. I look forward to the conversation and I will try to post some more regular updates here about my on-going work.

The Millionaire-Billionaire Rule

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I honestly have no idea whether that meme above is accurate, but truthfully I don’t really care. The reality is that economic inequality in this country is at an all-time high, and that is not a good thing!

I realize many are still coming to terms with the idea or reality of a Trump Presidency but I would actually be pleased if he follows through on his promise NOT to take the $400,000 Presidential salary.  Trump will join only two other Presidents who have NOT taken a salary while in office, Presidents John F. Kennedy and Herbert Hoover, if he keeps his promise. This got me thinking about income inequality and the salaries of our elected officials. According to a brief report from the Congressional Research Service, the average salary for elected representatives is around $170,000 a year, and we know they all get some pretty amazing benefits…like a members-only gym and amazing health insurance. But what I think is more important is, what is the net worth of these individuals when they take office. Trump, for example, is reported to be a Billionaire, and by some estimates more than half of Congress are millionaires!!!

Do millionaires and billionaires working for the public good really need to take a government salary or could that money be spent elsewhere?

I personally think it could be used more effectively somewhere else!

To that end I created a petition on We The People, the government website for petitions, to see if we might make a change in regards to the ultra wealthy elected officials. Specifically, I think that anyone who is an elected official or appointed to a Cabinet position AND is worth more than a million dollars should not take the government salary. Instead, that money should be diverted to Education, Health and Human Services, or the Veteran’s Administration. These are critical areas that always seem to be the first on the budget chopping block and perhaps we could help save by spending money where it matters the most. If you think this is a valuable idea then I encourage you to sign and share the petition. Share it with your networks on Twitter, Facebook, or wherever you hang out online. Let’s see what kind of change we can make.

Here’s the link to the petition: https://wh.gov/ieMAH

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Civility (or the lack thereof) and New Media Literacies in the 21st Century

I often write on this blog about New Media Literacies, Social Media, Education, and a pretty wide array of other topics related to my interests. Today, post-2016 Election, I am struggling with the results.

Honestscreen-shot-2016-11-09-at-11-19-32-amly, I never believed that this great country I live in could elect a person so clearly unfit to be President! To be fair, I was not super interested in the prospect of another Clinton Presidency either after learning what happened to Bernie Sanders by the DNC. I think the whole thing is indicative of a larger problem that impacts both parties. A problem that is now getting glossed over by the “Let’s get behind our President” talk. This talk is fine to have and it is important for civil society but we have to at least acknowledge how corrupt the system is and that it needs changing. Before one goes on to assume or think that, Yes the system needs change and that is precisely why Trump needed to be elected, let’s examine some of how we got here, or at least follow along and see what I think has contributed to this outcome. It doesn’t matter what side of the political continuum you are on because this really isn’t meant to be a political post. I have decided to move on.

Regular readers and those that know my work understand my deep interests and belief in social media, but they also know that it is more than that. It is about new media literacies and participatory culture. You can search my blog for more on these concepts but suffice it to say that Participatory Culture has dramatically expanded because of the Internet. Some may say Social Media is to blame for the election results…They are not wrong. Some will say the mainstream media is to blame…They are not wrong. But what I am interested in understanding at this point in time is that we had very high hopes for the Internet and how it might contribute to new ways of learning, connection, and opportunity. In large part, we have seen those positive outcomes and we have also seen examples of the dark side. I posted a Quote from Media & Communications scholar Marshall McLuhan up above where he stated, “We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.”

There is some disagreement about what this phrase actually means but I feel it is particularly important in the current context of today’s results. To say social media has not played a major role in the election is simply wrong. Even looking back to 2008 we can see how it has transformed the electoral process. But my point is that social media is not necessarily to blame because it is simply a tool. A tool that we have collectively shaped, which now shapes us. We as a nation may have succumbed to the effects of too much reliance on social media, alternative news, or other information sources rather than sitting back and thinking critically about what we are consuming. Henry Jenkins explains that Participatory culture is a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, where strong support exists for sharing one’s creations, there is some type of informal mentorship taking place where knowledge is being passed along from experienced to novices. A Participatory Culture is also one in which members believe their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social connection with one another. Participatory Culture is a culture that shifts the focus of literacy from one of individual expression to one of community involvement.

I think we have missed a few things in our current election cycle based on this definition of Participatory Culture that could contribute to increasing our own Media Literacies or our ability to think critically about the media content we consume and share. We missed opportunities for making a deeper connection, for dialoguing in a civil manner, for keeping our minds open to learning new things, for the possibility of more. We need to do better at learning critical thinking skills, analyzing information online and judging its credibility or usefulness, and we need to be kind when we disagree.

It is interesting because about 7 years ago an anthropologist named Mike Wesch from Kansas State University gave a talk at the Personal Democracy Forum on some of these ideas. What struck me the most back then and also rings true today is his idea of Connection without Constraint and the cultural tension that I see happening online, primarily on Facebook. Dr. Wesch describes this cultural tension as being the fact that we as a culture express individualism but want community, express independence but seek out relationships, and express commercialization but value authenticity. So in the middle of all this is that idea of connection and we all want connection, clearly, if this was not the case then social media would cease to exist. However, we see connection as inherently constraining. It takes time to have meaningful conversations, so why not just tweet? It is discomforting when I disagree with someone in person, but online the anonymity of the internet prevents one from facing that emotion.  Wesch goes on to explain, much like McLuhan, that media mediate relationships and when media changes, relationships also change.  You can see Dr. Wesch discuss this more with some great and humorous examples in the video below.

Do not misunderstand that I am simply blaming social media for the outcome of the election and a woefully misinformed electorate. I mean I guess I am, but hopefully I am putting some of it into context with the aforementioned discussion of Participatory Culture and Cultural Inversion because this leads me into thinking about the question,

where do we go from here?

I wish the answer were simple but that would be disingenuous. I do think the answer still involves social media, because what kind of social media researcher would I be if it didn’t, right? We can still rely on social media for our news but we really owe it to ourselves to do better in developing media literacy and knowing that just because we have discussions through screens that we should not be so narcissistic to believe that we MUST be right or that the other person is simply an idiot. We don’t have enough information to fully understand their logic nor do they have enough to understand ours. It’s kind of like fighting with your partner via text message. You have to know that it doesn’t matter what kind of emoji you use, the other person is likely not going to understand your implied sarcasm or other messages you are trying to convey. Instead, give them a call or better yet try to have a meaningful discussion in person.

We need to understand the difference between opinion and journalism.

We need to be comfortable in agreeing to disagree.

We need to better understand the issues and possible outcomes as they apply to our lives but more importantly to our communities. You have to live in the community after all.

We need to become comfortable in rooting out social and economic injustices online and off.

All of this, at least to me, relates to the idea of increasing our media literacies. We can contribute to the Participatory Culture of social media and we can do it in a fun, meaningful, and civil way. We can encourage young people to learn from others that have the kind of knowledge that will help us become more than what we are now. We can learn from our mistakes and know when it is time to turn off and re-center ourselves in a way that allows us to contribute to a culture of hope rather than fear. We already have the tools, but we as the public need to take them back and use them in positive ways. Civility in the 21st century still requires authenticity, accountability, and in some sense transparency. We should not let algorithms and monied interests dictate the narrative or co-opt it in a way that only benefits them. I am re-committing myself to work harder with educating my students about media literacies and how they impact all facets of life and I hope many others will do the same.

 

#APM16 Council on Social Work Education Annual Conference

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-2-51-53-pmLater this week I am headed to Atlanta, Georgia to participate in the 2016 Annual Program Meeting of the Council on Social Work Education.  I have attended this meeting every year for the past 6 years and I still get excited to go, mainly to see old friends and meet new colleagues. This year I am continuing my work by presenting the ideas of Student Engagement in Online Education and Digital Literacies. I have previously participated in a panel at other APM’s and I have written about Student Engagement on this blog here. I am also presenting on Digital Literacies, a project I created an entire course around when I worked at my previous institution and I am still analyzing data from. I presented a variant of what I am doing at APM this year at another conference and also wrote about that here.  I will be tweeting lots from the conference so feel free to connect with me via Twitter, but I hope to see you there in Atlanta. Travel safe!

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