Social Work Skills and Twitter
October 22, 2013 8 Comments
This post is mainly to serve as a supplement to a presentation given at the Council on Social Work Annual Program Meeting in Dallas, Texas (2013). Dr. Laurel Hitchcock (@LaurelHitchcock) and myself (@Jimmysw) shared with others how we use Twitter in our courses. The presentation involved explaining what Twitter is, as well as some of the symbols, meaning, and context that are often associated with interacting in the online space. The presentation also utilized a Prezi, which can be viewed by accessing the presentation link:
The presentation listed a number of resources that we wanted to share:
Twitter Help Center: https://support.twitter.com/
Nancy Smyth’s Blog Post on Twitter 101: http://njsmyth.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/twitter-101/
Social Work Helper: http://www.socialworkhelper.com/
Social Work/Social Care & Media: http://swscmedia.wordpress.com/
Mental Health Chat: https://twitter.com/MHchat
Resource for Top Social Work Professors on Twitter: http://www.onlinemswprograms.com/top-social-work-professors-on-twitter.html
I would also point you to a blog post I authored on New Media Literacies, which I personally believe that new media literacies need and deserve as much attention as thinking about the ethics of social media and social work education (more on that later).
From the presentation abstract, we explain that Social workers need to be aware of and adept at using social media as part of their professional practice with clients and systems.
Social media includes applications and technologies on the World Wide Web and on mobile devices which create interactive dialogue among organizations, communities, and individuals (Richardson, 2006). There is a growing awareness that social work practitioners, students and educators need to be adept at using social media and technology as part of their practice and interaction with clients of all system sizes (Getz, 2012; NASW & ABSW, 2005; McNutt, 2008; Perron et al, 2010). Social media offers an opportunity for social workers to communicate and advocate around social justice causes, network with other professionals, and locate information and resources that will inform practice with clients. This workshop will cover how three social work educators from different parts of the country are using Twitter, a micoblogging platform, with their students in the classroom, and then how they collaborated to bring their students together via Twitter to engage in professional conversations about current topics relevant to social work practice.
Assignments and classroom tasks using Twitter help students learn about technology tools and resources available to communicate and interact with other professionals, and to stay informed about social work practice over time (Greenhow & Gleason, 2012). Students benefit from using Twitter in two important ways. First, they learn to communicate with professionals and each other in a new ways. Using the parameters of Twitter (140 characters), students can easily share information with each other and their instructors about group assignments, research studies and current events. Students also report the ability to communicate directly with social work practitioners and researchers via Twitter, and thus become more capable about how to communicate and interaction with professionals. While some students use Twitter for recreational or personal reasons, they can also learn how use the character limit, professional terminology and written skills to communicate in public ways using Twitter. Second, student learn to discover, disseminate and evaluate information related to important social problems and social work practice in new and very public ways. For example, one of the presenters has students assess the quality of practice-based information received via Twitter, and then share this information with the instructor, each other and other professionals over a semester. Classroom discussions about the Twitter assignment focus on topics such as privacy, public image, professional communication skills, becoming a life-long learner, and using social media as a way to give back to the profession, and reinforce the role of values and ethics such as social justice, competency and integrity in social work practice. Additionally, students learn how to approach and complete assignments that are publicly oriented (Jarvis, 2011). These examples demonstrate how Twitter can be used to address the educational policy and accreditation standards set forth by CSWE (2008). Specifically, students were able to engage in research and communication by discovering, interacting with and or engaging with different populations (EPAS 2.1.6 & 2.1.9). Additionally, students used critical thinking and creativity (EPAS 2.1.3) to engage in the policy discussion.
Recently, the presenters conducted a live Twitter event as a collaborative effort between their universities to discuss gun violence and gun prevention. This was the First live multi-university social work Twitter Chat and the archive of the chat can be accessed by clicking here. The purpose of the live chat was to demonstrate how social work students and educators can use technology to enhance policy analysis, macro practice, and online advocacy. Students were given instructions on how to participate as well as ground rules similar to those used in a group therapy session. At an appointed time, the presenters, their students and other social work practitioners “met” on Twitter to discuss a series of questions related to the gun violence. One of the presenters served as the moderator and used other social media tools such as HootSuite (to live stream the chat), YouTube (to record a video for future analysis) and Storify (to archive the discussion). The moderator closed the live twitter chat with a poll question to assess the reaction of the students who participated in the event. Out of the 30 people who answered the poll, over 70% stated they enjoyed the experience and felt it enhanced their learning.
Social work educators need to learn about and start using social media tools; not only to be role models for our students, but to facilitate discussions about the social work profession in a very public way. Twitter represents only one way in which social work educators can and are using social media in their classrooms. The literature is growing in regards to this area and much work still needs to be done.
Special thanks are in store to our esteemed colleague Deona Hooper (@DeonaHooper) at socialworkhelper.com, who assisted in facilitating the Twitter chat event and put together the Storify Archive. Deona wasn’t able to make it to CSWE, but her contribution has been invaluable.
Council on Social Work Education. (2008). Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards. Washington, DC: Author.
Davidson, C. (2010, December). Twenty First Century Literacies. Retrived from http://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/twenty-first-century-literacies
Getz, L. (2012). Mobile App Technology for Social Workers. Social Work Today, 12 (3), 8 -10.
Greenhow, C. & Gleason, B. (2012). Twitteracy: Tweeting as a new literary practice. The Educational Forum, 76(4), 464-478.
Hitchcock, L. & Battista, A. (2013). Social Media for Professional Practice: Integrating Twitter with Social Work Pedagogy. Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work, Vol 18 Special Issue.
Jarvis, J. (2011). Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., Weigel, M. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century [white paper]. Retrieved from http://digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7D/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF
McNutt, J. G. (2008). Web 2.0 tools for policy research and advocacy. Journal of Policy Practice, 7(1), 81-85.
NASW (National Association of Social Workers)/ASWB (Association of Social Work Boards).
(2005). NASW & ASWB Standards for technology and social work practice. Retrieved on July 30, 2012 from http://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/NASWTechnologyStandards.pdf.
Perron, B. E., Taylor, H. O., Glass, J. E., & Margerum-Leys, J. (2010). Information and communication technologies in social work. Advances in social work, 11(2), 67-81.
Rheingold, H. (2012). Net Smart. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Richardson, W. H. (2006). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for
Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.