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.

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Live Twitter Chats in Social Work Education

imgresJust a quick update as the beginning of my semester kicks off this week. I can’t think of a better way to start than with news of my latest publication with Laurel Hitchcock about our Live Twitter Chat assignments we have been using for several years now. The article is free for the first 50 people who access this link http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/mYvhnQ4e6C4DrRYAUbF5/full but I know Laurel will also have some eprints available.

We have written on our blogs several posts about this assignment and you can see a collection of my own posts here (hopefully the link works).  This project has been lots of fun and I really enjoy seeing the students learn from this assignment. We will be partnering with #MacroSW chat once again this semester for our live chat so stay tuned for another blog post later in the semester.

#SWpolicy410 & Twitter Chats in Social Work Education

Last night President Obama gave his 2014 State of the Union Address. Because I am teaching social welfare policy, I wanted my students to watch and engage with this event outside of the classroom. I have written on this blog before about the use of technology and social media in the classroom, and specifically about Twitter (Twittering and Documentaries) and how we can use it to develop skills. I see Twitter as a very powerful tool to engage students outside of the classroom, and a tool which requires incredible critical thinking skills. Yes, I said critical thinking skills. But it also helps students develop digital literacy and other competencies that are useful in social work practice today and the future. Twitter is space where individuals can interact and share information. Disseminating information in less 140 characters of text may seem mundane but it actually requires one to organize their thoughts and articulate them in a meaningful way. This requires higher level thinking and may frustrate some, so be patient and remember to learn about Twitter and how to use it properly. There are some great resources to get started, such as Dr. Laurel Iverson-Hitchcock or Dean Nancy Smyth and others.

This post is meant to demonstrate how I used Twitter to engage my policy students in the State of the Union Address. I already require students to obtain a Twitter account as part of another assignment in class, so it was a natural fit to encourage them to Live Tweet during the Address. Live Tweeting is essentially sending out messages via Twitter during a live event, such as the State of the Union. I already discussed proper use of Twitter in the classroom, but I gave students some ideas on what to Tweet during the Address. Generally, I wanted to see their reactions or questions to what the President discussed. One main objective of this activity was to help students identify and begin to obtain an interest in policy and issues that impact the profession and our clients. I also made sure that students included the course hashtag (#swpolicy410) in their tweets so that I could archive the event later. I had about 13 students engage in the Live Tweet and I was amazed at the results. Below is a Storify story of the event.

One of the greatest benefits I see in doing an activity like this is that my students have the opportunity to interact with others from around the country and the world. For example, several of my followers started to engage into our Live Twitter Chat/Event by ReTweeting mine and students’ tweets. I think this gives students an opportunity to later connect with these individuals (like @MikeLICSW) and organizations (like @CRISPontheHill) for a variety of purposes. I hope that as we discuss this in class, students will feel comfortable reaching to these individuals/organizations to help with research and policy advocacy. This activity helps students build skills and become competent social workers.  I am not trying to imply that every social work course incorporate Twitter. That would be ludicrous. Assignments and activities should correspond to learning goals and objectives. Live Tweeting and Twitter Chats represent just one innovative way to engage students and help them learn and get excited about social work and social welfare policy. If you have any questions about Live Tweeting or simply want to leave a comment. Feel free to do so, and you can always follow me on Twitter.

Twittering with Documentaries in the Classroom

This semester I have been engaged in teaching my Social Media, Digital Activism, and eCitizenship course in the traditional face-to-face format (previously it was completely online). This class was also selected as an iPad class, so each of the students either brought their own or were provided an iPad to augment their learning. One of the requirements of the course is to use Twitter to extend our conversations and learning outside the classroom. I have incorporated many assignments and skills from other social work educators, such as Dr. Laurel Iverson Hitchcock (@laurelhitchcock) and Dean Nancy J. Smyth (@njsmyth), as well as using New Media Literacies to help students understand social media. I am always trying to think about how to engage my students in hands on learning through experiential methods. This has involved the use of games, both low tech and high tech, and other methods as well.

This semester I have been more and more intrigued by the fact that the Nielsen Media Analytics Group has been tracking and reporting on the behavior of individuals who Tweet while they watch Television. Essentially, they discovered that Tweeting during a television broadcast can influence the ratings of that particular show. This study confirms many suspicions I have had about Twitter and in particular the integration of the Hashtag (#) on television broadcasts. Many television shows, news broadcasts, and even religious broadcasts now incorporate the use of the hashtag on the screen so viewers will tweet what they watch while they are watching and thus engage in a discussion about the show. This gave me the idea to incorporate it into my class while we watched the documentary Pink Ribbons Inc.

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This documentary is very well done and if you haven’t seen it, I would encourage you to find it and watch it.

The directions I gave to students were fairly simple. I asked them to share their thoughts, reactions, and or quotes from the documentary using the course hashtag (#SOWK388) on Twitter. I thought this assignment would help them to stay focused on the documentary instead of simply snoozing through the two day event (not to say that students sleep during class, lol), and I knew that some of the students already used Twitter when watching some of their favorite shows, so I figured it would be fairly natural. The results were spectacular. My one regret is that I waited to long to archive the tweets using Storify, otherwise I would share them here.

During the course of the documentary, I followed the course hashtag on Twitter and would also tweet my own thoughts/reactions while at the same time responding to other students with questions and comments to push their critical thinking deeper. At the end of the documentary, I still held an in-class discussion but I was able to go back to Twitter to draw students into the discussion by highlighting their tweets and asking them to expand upon their thoughts and comments. This was by far the best in-class discussion of the semester.

The main takeaway for others who may want to adopt this in their course is to think ahead of time to organize the activity. The idea honestly only hit me the week before we viewed the documentary in hopes of encouraging interaction among the class. The next time I do this, I would like to get the students to also track the Twitter conversation while they view the documentary. There are multiple ways of doing this, from having them use a social media dashboard on their iPads (such as HooteSuite) to also getting an additional screen to display the conversation on Twitter in real-time in the classroom. Although, this might be more distracting for some students. I think asking the students to Tweet a reflection at the end of the period and the end of the documentary that sums up their reaction to the documentary and other’s tweets would also enhance the in-class discussion. Of course the students need to be set up on Twitter and understand the practice of using the Hashtag (#), but I also think archiving the conversation with Storify or some other service would also help students to reflect on the assignment/process. I’m sure there are several other products that could add to this assignment, so please leave a comment below.

In the end, I completely understand that some think the act of multi-tasking makes us less effective. I myself am not much of a multi-tasker for this very reason. However, I think this assignment helped to keep students engaged in the documentary and thinking about what was being conveyed because they needed to think critically about how to share their reaction in less than 140 characters of text (because that is all that Twitter allows). I was so amazed at the level of attention and critical thinking that students shared in relation to the content of the documentary, and I am certain that this assignment also helped students to grasped other concepts in the course as I would later use this assignment as an example in my teaching.

I don’t know that this would work for every class, because not every class is equipped with the technology, but if you plan on using something like this please come back here and share your results. I am very excited about how this assignment turned out and I hope that by sharing my experience others will also get excited to experiment with learning and share their experiences with me. As always, thanks for reading/following my blog and feel free to leave a comment or connect with me via Twitter.

Social Work Skills and Twitter

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     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:

        http://prezi.com/ci5ctpyvthzl/?  utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share 

The presentation listed a number of resources that we wanted to share:

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.

Feel free to leave a comment or you can always tweet 😀imgres

Here is the presentation link once again.

References

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.

Top Social Work Professors on Twitter

I was pretty amazed this weekend to find that I, along with many other wonderful and amazing colleagues were listed as Top Social Work Professors on Twitter. You can see the list here.  I thought I would provide just a bit of a post to welcome any new visitors who may have stumbled upon this blog as a result of seeing the list and the link to this site. Welcome. I hope you find something of value here and please don’t hesitate to email or tweet me if you have any questions. Thanks for dropping by. J.

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@SM4SW #SM4SW New Twitter discussion

I have been sitting on this idea for nearly a year now and I have finally decided to follow up with it. Taking inspiration from @SWSCmedia I hope to further the discussion around social media and social work by connecting social workers through social media. Right now it is pretty small, mostly existing on twitter, but via the SM4SW blog. I hope that anyone who is interested in social work and the intersection of social media will join in our chats by using #SM4SW. You can also follow @SM4SW to engage in the discussion. I would encourage anyone interested in any part of social work to come and join. From the seasoned practioner to the still undecided social work student. I hope that this dialogue will help many excited about social media, social work, and positive change.

The Twitter Community

I just have to send a quick shout out and BIG thank you to the many tweeps helping with my dissertation research by tweeting and re-tweeting my survey link. I am gathering data on social media use among nonprofit organizations in Richmond, VA. So far I have had a number of mentions and re-tweets which have helped to gain some headway in my data collection process. I still have a ways to go but I have some time as well. That being said, if you are or know of a nonprofit organization in Richmond, VA then I would really appreciate your help and or input on this survey. You can click the link below, which will take you to a secure site and you can answer the questions I have come up with for this project. The survey only takes about 10 minutes. Thanks in advance for your time and help. Also, if you can share the link with anyone else then that would be fantastic.

http://bit.ly/Ac2abT

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.

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

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