#APM19 Social Work Education Conference

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Once again I find myself attending the Council on Social Work Education’s Annual Program Meeting in Denver, Colorado. I really enjoy this city and all it has to offer, but the main purpose of this post is to highlight some of my research and give more context to the work I am presenting at this conference. I have already written one blog post about this conference and my poster presentation, which you can view here.

This post is mainly to highlight my two other presentations during the conference. One related to my work to better understand how Social Work Schools and Programs use Twitter, and the other to illustrate how to teach Digital Literacies. The first presentation is based on a research paper that is currently under review. The title and proposal are below:

#SocialWorkEducation: Using Data Science to Understand How Social Work Programs use Twitter

Social media can be a valuable tool in social work education to help collaborate with others, promote programs, engage with alumni, or promote interprofessional education. Social media are defined as an array of digital technologies that allow for the creation and exchange of user-generated content (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010; Kanter & Fine, 2010) and include digital platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat. There is a growing awareness that social work practitioners, students and educators need to be adept at using social media and information communication technology as part of their practice and interaction with clients and organizations of all sizes (Coe Regan & Freddolino, 2008; Getz, 2012; Hitchcock & Young, 2016; National Association of Social Workers [NASW], 2017). As more and more organizations adopt social media to promote their services (Goldkind, 2015; Young, 2017), social work education programs have also utilized social media for a variety of purposes.

The purpose of this paper is to examine how social work education programs use Twitter by leveraging the principles of data science. Data science allows for the analysis of big data sets that can be structured or unstructured to develop understanding, extract knowledge, and formulate actionable results (Cariceo, Nair, & Lytton, 2018, p. 1). Specifically, a text and sentiment analysis of 26,000 tweets, collected over a 10-month period, was performed utilizing the Information, Community, and Action framework (Lovejoy & Saxton, 2012). The author first coded a sample of 2,000 tweets with graduate research assistants utilizing the framework to help identify keywords that could be used in performing a larger text analysis. The sample of tweets also helped to establish more rigor and validity for this study as the author was able to obtain an inter-rater reliability score of 72%. Disagreement within the sample of tweets was addressed and discussed to help identify the most meaningful keywords and categories that could be used for the larger database of the 26,000 tweets. Utilizing the Lovejoy & Saxton (2012) framework categories and keywords, Microsoft Excel along with Microsoft’s Azure Artifical Intelligence Software was utilized to analyze the larger database to identify how social work programs use Twitter and what kind of tone, or sentiment, their tweets contain. Sentiment analysis identifies tweets as positive, neutral, or negative based on the frequency of words within the tweet by using a lexicon. This data mining analysis helps to illustrate how programs engage with other Twitter users to promote their respective schools or programs.

The findings suggest that programs tweet primarily to share information about a variety of topics and opportunities, categorized as Information. Programs also tweet calls to action and try to engage with their online community but not at the same level of sharing information, categorized as Action. A smaller sample of the tweets did engage in more of a dialogic connection between users to promote conversation or interaction, categorized as Community. A majority of the tweets have a neutral sentiment with some also being identified as positive or negative. Interestingly, larger programs were able to produce more tweets and engage with a larger audience. Tweets by larger programs often received more likes and retweets than other smaller programs. A possible reason for this could be the number of staff available in larger programs, but more research is needed to have a definitive conclusion.

Social Work programs can play a pivotal role in helping students to become lifelong learners, increase their digital literacies, and model ethical and appropriate technology use through their curriculum and online presence. However, technology in social work education has been adopted sporadically with moderate degrees of success. This paper supports this notion by evaluating how social work programs use Twitter for a variety of purposes. Attendees will understand how programs are using Twitter and gain ideas for their own programs and efforts regarding the use of social media. By examining the past usage of Twitter, this presentation will help participants look forward to understanding how to use Twitter in more effective ways.

This research project has been fun and challenging as I have had to learn how to use new software to capture and analyze Big Data from Twitter. I mainly used Microsoft’s suite of tools but also supplemented with Rstudio where needed. Computational social science is a new area for me and I still have so much to learn but my hope is that this project will launch some important conversations and future research. One specific aspect that came out of this research was the development of the Top Ten Social Work Schools/Programs on Twitter. Be sure to click the link to find out more 🙂

The second presentation in Denver is related to my ongoing work around New Media Literacies or Digital Literacies, which I have written extensively about here on my blog and in the literature. This presentation has been a few years in the making and something that I myself have even had challenges with, which is why the title of this workshop is so pertinent.

What if there’s no WiFi? Teaching Digital Literacies in Social Work Education

Over the past several years social media and digital technologies in social work education and practice has exploded with books, articles, and trade publications being devoted to the topic (Goldkind, Wolf, & Freddolino, 2018; Hitchcock & Young, 2016; Hitchcock, Sage, & Smyth, 2018). The expectation among students to become digitally competent professionals has been discussed in the literature and many recognize the need to infuse these technologies into the classroom in ways that can build technical competence, social and cultural competencies, and digital literacies (Perron, Taylor, Glass,  & Margerum-Leys, 2010; Young, McLeod, & Brady, 2018). Digital literacies has become essentially an umbrella term that covers many forms of literacy (Considine, Horton, & Moorman, 2009). Media literacy generally refers to “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate messages in a wide variety of forms” (Hobbs, 1998, p. 16). The emphasis of media literacy is learning and teaching skills related to the process of critically analyzing and creating messages in a variety of print or digital forms (Hobbs, 1998).  There has been an emergence within the literature regarding the use of social media and digital technologies for the acquisition of specific social work skills that mirrors the forms and methods of media literacy (Hitchcock & Young, 2016; Jones, Sage, & Hitchcock, 2019; Sage, Singer, LaMarre, & Rice, 2018; Young, 2015). The challenge with digital literacies in social work education is that the concept is too broadly defined, and it has not been thoroughly developed, discussed, or researched enough to provide specific guidance on what conceptual framework of digital literacies is suited to the development of professional social work skills. Teaching digital literacies needs to move beyond the skills of critical analysis to building the capacity for engaging, understanding, and communicating with others in a genuine, authentic, and ethically appropriate manner.  Digitally literacies are as much about understanding the how as they are about understanding the why.

The purpose of this workshop is to differentiate between the concepts of digital and media literacies (Belshaw, 2011; Hobbs, 2011; Jenkins, Clinton, Purushotma, Robison, & Weigel, 2009; Rheingold, 2012) as they apply to social work education. Participants will learn about leveraging the participatory culture of social media through the pedagogical framework of Connected Learning to create applied learning activities that motivate students to learn. “Participatory culture is a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby experienced participants pass along knowledge to novices” (Jenkins et al., 2009, p. 3). The Connected Learning framework rests on six principles: it is interest driven, peer supported, academically oriented, openly networked, production centered, and maintains a shared purpose (Ito et al., 2013). The essential part of Connected Learning and Participatory Culture comes down to the idea of epistemology, or how one comes to know what one knows. It is important to be able to use knowledge, skills, and values in the participatory culture of social media to better understand how to function, participate, collaborate, and ultimately achieve some task or goal. Fortunately, bridging all these ideas together in the classroom is relatively easy and educators can accomplish multiple objectives in their quest to enhance the digital literacies of their students.

The specific digital literacies that will be covered in this workshop stem from the 12 New Media Literacies Skills identified by Jenkins et al. (2009). These skills include appropriation, performance, judgement, simulation, transmedia navigation, multitasking, distributed cognition, collective intelligence, play, networking, negotiation, and visualization. Participants will understand what each term means and explore specific strategies to teach each skill using technology when appropriate, or not using any technology at all if there is no WiFi for instance. It is important to consider which digital literacies to utilize in the classroom because a careful review will ensure that the educator has matched the literacies appropriately to their learning objectives in the course. It’s important to remember that social media and digital technologies are just tools and should not be used to replace sound pedagogy (Young, McLeod, Brady, 2018). However, building applied learning activities around the ideas of new media literacies can help students to realize the potential of social media and digital technology for solving complex issues and developing tangible skills that will be incredibly useful during the course of their professional career. Through the demonstrations in this workshop educators will be able to help students develop the requisite technical, social, and cultural competencies to be ethical and effective social workers.

This workshop will be very hands-on, which is good because it is early early Sunday morning 🙂 Hopefully social work educators will come away from the workshop understanding that digital literacies are critically important for our students and that while we can teach them the necessary skills, knowledge, and values to ensure they are competent ethical professionals, we don ‘t necessarily need to rely on technology to get the job done. This may sound weird, especially coming from a technology advocate like myself, but in the real world, we may not always have access to the latest technologies or even the fastest internet. We should not let that slow us down in terms of preparing our students for the vastly digital world we now practice in.

Top Ten Schools/Programs of Social Work on Twitter

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Remember the old Top Ten lists from Late Night TV? I remember loving some of those lists and since I have been engaged in some research to understand how Social Work Programs use Twitter, I decided to go ahead and create my own Top Ten list of Schools or Programs on Twitter. But first, you should know that I currently have this list under review for publication with a journal and that this list could be subject to change over time given the shifting variables or factors embedded with my methodology. This begs the questions, What was my methodology?

Well, I utilized some of the principles from Data Science to gather over 26,000 tweets during the period of 2017 to 2018. I follow all, at least I think it’s all, of the social work education programs and schools on Twitter. The list below is not indicative of all programs currently on the list because some have just joined Twitter. I think the list still has merit given my methods because newer programs on Twitter have not yet gathered the number of followers and other factors used to create the list. After downloading all the tweets, cleaning and organizing the data set, I ranked each program/school based on a composite score of 1 to 100 that I created from key metrics like number of followers, number of likes, how many Twitter users each program follows back, most @ replies, greatest use of the hashtag (#) in tweets, and overall number of tweets included in the sampling period. I get that it’s not perfect, but David’s research from the home office probably wasn’t perfect either 🙂

So…without further adieu.

Top Ten Social Work Schools and or Programs on Twitter! 

Rank

1

School

University at Buffalo School of Social Work

Score

49

2

San Diego State University School of Social Work

45

3

Case Western Reserve University Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences

25

4

University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work

22

5

Columbia University School of Social Work

20

6

Florida State University College of Social Work (tied)

University of Utah College of Social Work (tied)

17

7

University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice

16

8

University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

12

9

The University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work (tied)

Tarleton State University Department of Social Work (tied)

10

10

Arizona State University School of Social Work

7

 

I know there are more than 10 programs represented and I was a little surprised to see a tie at numbers 6 and 9. However, the top schools on this list have a couple of things in common. First, they are active on Twitter and do a fantastic job of engaging with their online communities. For example, U. of Buffalo consistently engages in the #MacroSW Chats and thus has a lot of tweets under their profile. Second, the top schools have a lot of followers but they also follow back, which can be a good indicator that they understand how to use Twitter to build relationships. I will save the rest of the interpretation for until my article is published, fingers crossed 🙂

Let me know what you think or if you have any questions. Of course, you can always follow me on Twitter. Thanks for taking the time to read through this post and stay tuned as I hope to update this list within the next year.

Tenure & Promotion

I guess it’s nearly been a year since my last blog post so I should probably update 🙂

To be honest, I have been contemplating moving from WordPress back to blogger and just haven’t pulled the trigger. Mainly, I just don’t blog that much anymore but I do plan to keep a blog because it’s a good placeholder for conference papers, research, etc.

Screen Shot 2019-10-03 at 10.33.59 AMThe actual reason for this post is to just mention that I have been granted tenure and promotion to Associate Professor here at California State University-San Marcos. Some of you that follow me on Twitter already know this but we had a small celebration last night for all the faculty that were recently promoted. It was a nice gathering and incredibly interesting to hear about the work of my colleagues across campus.

One thing that really stood out to me was when my Dean was going over some of my academic achievements thus far. Here is a quick snippet:

  • 22 Publications across journals, book contributions, trade publications, and curriculum guides.
  • 57 presentations at national and international conferences.
  • 14 different courses taught in social work education, including one I developed from scratch that focused on social media use, digital activism, and eCitizenship.
  • 30 reviews for conference proposals, journals, or books.
  • Seemingly countless hours of committee service
  • At least 1,467 tacos consumed (although that number is just an estimate).

So the Dean may not have shared my love for tacos with everyone but I was a bit in disbelief by some of the other stats because I feel like I haven’t been in the Academy that long and still have so much more work to do and research to complete. I have plenty of years left to finish it all and I look forward to the many opportunities that may come my way. Huge thank you to my colleagues in my department and across my professional collaboration network for getting me to where I am today. And of course, many many thanks to my wife and family because without them I simply would not be able to achieve anything!

Here’s to the next several decades of teaching, research, and service!!!

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.

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.

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

End of the Semester Reflections, Spring 2016

My students sometimes give me the roll-eyed look when I talk about our profession being one of self-reflection. I know it’s true and I am confident that you can find many programs across the country that also have some sort of reflection-based assignment in one of their courses. Self-reflection is critical to the learning process. There is even a great journal focused solely on this subject called Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping. Full disclosure, I have a recent publication in this journal 🙂  To this end I thought I would reflect a bit on the second semester of my first year at Cal State San Marcos.

This semester has been full of working with students on their culminating experience, which is either a capstone project or Thesis. I had the opportunity to chair several projects and be part of others. These projects focused on veterans, homelessness, and social media in clinical social work practice. I’m sure the students might share a different perspective, but I enjoyed the opportunity to work with them. It was challenging at times and yes I am exhausted but that could be due to the fact that I haven’t read that much paper since my dissertation phase.  These projects turned out rather well and gave me a renewed sense to pursue some avenues of research I was becoming dis-interested in. For example, one group focused on developing an advocacy campaign around homelessness. See the trailer below. I was truly amazed at how well this project turned out and extremely pleased with the learning demonstrated by these, and all students.

 

 

Another example of some great student learning through reflection happened in my macro practice course. I employ a critical thinking presentation assignment and pretty much leave it open to the students to create a presentation that demonstrates their learning as it applies to one or more of the course learning objectives. These objectives are also tied to the learning competencies set forth by CSWE. Students did an amazing job this semester thinking critically and reflecting on their learning. I use twitter in this class and I had students create presentations that used some of the twitter assignment that they completed in class.  One particularly creative use of this was developing a word cloud of the course hashtag from the semester’s tweets and talking about how it related to their learning.

word cloud

If you are interested in creating word clouds you can use a number of different web-based platforms such as http://www.wordle.net/ or applications like TweetRoot. I really like the word clouds because they also represent a form of data visualization where the larger words represent the number of times those words were used. It is reassuring to see my students tweeting messages, links, and other content related to community, awareness, and change. These are things that definitely make up Macro Social Work practice.

I can honestly say this semester has been fun and challenging. I thoroughly enjoy teaching students about macro social work and positive social change. I am looking forward to teaching research this summer and to my other class in the fall. But I’m wondering what you do to help students reflect, be mindful, and engage in otherwise formative learning activities?  Maybe you, as a student, have participated in a learning activity that was especially meaningful. I hope that you will leave a comment and let me know so I can think about using my class the next time 🙂

Student Documentary Movie Night 2-25-2016 with #MacroSW Chat

Dr. Laurel Hitchcock and I are once again partnering with #MacroSW to have a discussion about Income Inequality in America. We have used this innovative assignment and engaging documentary for a couple years now and even published some of our findings in Social Work Education: The International Journal. I hope you will join us this Thursday at 9pm Central, 6pm Pacific Time as we organize around the #MacroSW hashtag on Twitter to talk about this important issue. Also, please go and checkout the MacroSW blog for more information.

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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.

#2015APM Council on Social Work Education, Denver, Colorado

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The Annual Program Meeting of the Council on Social Work Education takes place in Denver, Colorado this year and I am excited to be attending this wonderful conference. This conference affords me the opportunity to meet new colleagues, catch up with old friends, and begin new collaborations. Yes, I am also presenting some of my research and scholarly activities regarding the use of social media in social work education, but I mostly look forward to networking with others.

 

At this years conference I will be participating in two different presentations, one a panel regarding online social work education and another regarding the Twitter Chat Assignment developed by myself and Laurel Hitchcock. I have written many times before on these topics here on this blog as well as published several articles on the broad topic of social media, but more on that later.

The first presentation is all about engaging students in online education. I am presenting with several colleagues; Melanie Sage, Andrew Quinn both of the University of North Dakota, and Dale Fitch from the University of Missouri. We previously present on this topic and I also shared a blog post regarding that presentation. I hope to add in a bit more regarding the use of social media to further engage students in online learning in unique and innovative ways. I hope you can attend, but if not, I will try and get another blog post up after the conference.

The second presentation is focused on using Live Twitter Chats to meet macro/policy social work objectives. Laurel and I have been working together on this assignment for several years now and currently have a piece in the process on evaluating this assignment. Students have really engaged in this and we are excited to continue working to refine and improve the assignment, more to come on that as well.

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If you are in Denver during the conference, I hope to see or meet you. If not, you can always reach out to me via Twitter @JimmySW if you have questions or want to say hello. One of these conferences I do think we need to set up a Tweetup to get all the social workers on Twitter together at one time. That would be fun.

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