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 🙂

#BPDTX16 Annual Conference for Baccalaureate Program Directors

The annual conference for the Baccalaureate Program Directors is taking place this week in Dallas, Texas. Unfortunately I am not able to attend because I maxed out on my allotment of conferences for this academic year but I wanted to call your attention to the conference hashtag #BPDTX16 on Twitter because you can follow the conference and get some great updates from various social work educators, students, and practitioners who are in attendance.
dallas-tx-skyline

 This conference is really geared towards social work education at the undergraduate level but still features some great research presentations and teaching workshops. One such workshop I was meant to be apart of was put on by Stephen Baldridge of Abilene Christian University and Laurel Hitchcock of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The workshop was titled “Social Media Technology Basics for the Social Work Educator” and featured some great content related to using social media in social work education. Dr. Hitchcock wrote a great blog post about the presentation, which also included the presentation abstract. The three of us regularly use social media in our classes and have found it to be useful to students. Be sure to go check out that blog post and if you have questions, you can always leave me a comment or reply to me on Twitter.

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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#MacroSW Chat October 8th at 9pm EST

Inequality for All: Student-Focused #MacroSW Twitter Chat on 10/8/15

Laurel Hitchcock of University of Alabama at Birmingham and I (Jimmy Young of the California State University San Marcos) are working with the wonderful folks at #MacroSW Chat to host a live Twitter chat for social work students in March. While the chat is designed with students in mind, anyone is welcome to join us. Here are the details:

 

Topic: Inequality for All – we recommend watching the documentary by Robert Reich before the chat.

 

Date & Time: October 8, 2015 at 8:00 PM CST/6:00 PM PST

 

Hashtag: #MacroSW

 

Hosts: Jimmy Young and Laurel Hitchcock

Questions:

  1. What is happening today in terms of distribution of wealth? Why is it happening? What do you see happening and what are the causes?
  2. When do you think inequality becomes a problem?
  3. If the government sets the rules for how the market functions, who do these rules benefit or hurt?
  4. Who is looking out for the American worker? Who do you think should be and what could be done?
  5. After watching the film, do you agree/disagree with the idea of equal opportunity and the American Dream?
  6. What do you think most Americans don’t realize about income Inequality?
  7. What single word best describes how the film made you feel?
  8. What’s next? How do we as social workers address inequality or move forward?

If you are an educator wanting to incorporate this chat as an assignment into your class, please click here for details. We hope you can join us!

Please contact us (by clicking on our names below) if you plan to have your class or maybe a student group participate in the chat. We also welcome questions.

 

Jimmy Young

Laurel Hitchcock

 

 

A New Academic Year – Fall 2015

I initially sat down to write this post several weeks ago but things just keep getting busier and I don’t know if I will ever have a truly free moment to reflect on this upcoming semester. So here it goes…

After an extended summer break from this blog, and really most things related to teaching, tech, and research, I am back in the throws of a new semester and in a new location. In case you didn’t know I am now part of the MSW program at California State University San Marcos, which is located in northern San Diego County of Southern California. The setting is amazing as I try to get to the beach as often as I can. The institution is also amazing and I have been telling everyone that it is easy to see the influence of our President (who is also a social worker) Dr. Karen Haynes in all areas of Campus. I am excited for this new opportunity and excited to get to know many new wonderful colleagues and students.

Here at CSUSM I still plan to pursue my interests of social media and technology in social work education and nonprofit administrations, but I also hope to move into new directions to assess the impact of technology on individuals, families, communities, and organizations. I also have some ideas for health literacies as they related to my work on digital literacies that I hope to pursue within the community. I think CSUSM is an innovative place where many of my ideas will be able to be implemented and tested.

I am also excited to be in the MSW program and working with students on research projects and getting know students as they matriculate through our program. I hear it’s been a rocky road but with our new director and others that have been hired on this year I think the future is looking very bright and I’m excited to be part of it.  One last hope I have is to continue blogging some of my learning experiences here and sharing with those of you who actually read my blog 🙂 The past year was a busy one where I was steadfastly working on publications. Six publications in one year was never really a goal but just happened. I am grateful but I am also looking to getting back to writing in this space. For instance, Dr. Laurel Hitchcock and I are once again conducting our Live Twitter Chat this semester, in a few weeks actually and I will have another blog post up in a few days. This new semester and new start are very exciting and I hope to achieve lots. Check back once in awhile to see what I’m up to and as always, you can usually find me on Twitter 🙂

 

Creating Social Media Policies for the Classroom

I know I haven’t written anything all summer as I have been moving and getting settled in Southern California but I wanted to share another publication that just came out in the Journal Advances in Social Work. I really love this journal because it is open access and it has some amazing authors contributing important and timely information to the literature. You can access the journal here https://journals.iupui.edu/index.php/advancesinsocialwork and you can find my article title:

Developing Ethical Guidelines for Creating Social Media Technology Policy in Social Work Classrooms

This was a great collaboration with Dr. Brady and Dr. McLeod from the University of Oklahoma. We have a few other things we are working on as well and fingers crossed they will come out sometime next year.

Okay. Back to summer vacation as the semester starts up for me in a short few weeks.

Digital Advocacy in Community Organizing

This is just a really quick post to share a recent article from my colleagues and I that was published in the Journal of Community Practice. The article is titled:

Utilizing Digital Advocacy in Community Organizing: Lessons Learned from Organizing in Virtual Spaces to Promote Worker Rights and Economic Justice

The first 50 copies are available free via this link —> http://bit.ly/digitaladvocacy

and if you follow Dr. Brady or Dr. McLeod on Twitter, I am sure they will also share their author copies in case mine get all used up 🙂

Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter as I am moving this summer to Southern California, my blog will be rather quiet until this Fall. Have a great summer in case I don’t update before then.

African American Pioneers in Social Work

I would like to thank SocialWork@Simmons for alerting me to this amazing resource and to be honest I meant to share this much earlier in the month but time seems to slip past me relatively easily.

Their blog features digital placards developed in partnership with SocialWorkHelper.com highlighting prominent African-American advocates for Black History Month. Visit their blog for more resources but in the mean time here are the placards below:

Mary Church Terrell:

African American Pioneers in Social Services, SocialWork@Simmons

George Edmund Haynes:

African American Pioneers in Social Service, SocialWork@Simmons

Thyra J. Edwards:

African American Pioneers in Social Service, SocialWork@Simmons

Lester Blackwell Granger:

African American Pioneers in Social Service, SocialWork@Simmons

Dorothy Height:

African American Pioneers in Social Service, SocialWork@Simmons

#MacroSW Chat March 12th 8pm CST #Inequality For All

Laurel Hitchcock and I are once again partnering with the #MacroSW Chat to host a live one hour chat on the topic of Inequality. We encourage you to participate and if you get the chance, please view the film Inequality for All prior to the chat. The film is very well done and it sets the context for the chat. We had a great experience last semester with this assignment and hope to replicate it again. The following is a re-blog from Laurel’s website:

Spring 2015 Live Twitter Chat Assignment for Social Work Students

To help social work students and educators learn about Twitter and develop the skills to participate in a live chat, Jimmy Young of the University of Nebraska-Kearney and I (Laurel Hitchcock of University of Alabama at Birmingham) have designed an assignment for social work students that involves joining a live Twitter chat with other social work students, educators and practitioners from around the country to talk about important social and economic justice issues. The assignment is designed for a policy or macro-practice course, but it can be incorporated into almost any social work course. Here are the some of the details of the assignment:

  1. Students watch the documentary Inequality for All, and then write a brief reaction paper to movie.
  2. Then, students participate in the live Twitter chat scheduled for March 12, 2015 at 8:00 PM CST. This chat will be sponsored by #MacroSW, a bi-weekly Twitter chat focusing on macro social work practice issues, and hosted by Jimmy and I. During the chat, we will ask questions about the film and income inequality that will guide the flow of the conversation.
  3. After the live chat, students write a brief self-reflection essay about the experience of participating in the chat.

 

While the written parts of the assignment are optional to participate in the chat, we highly recommend some type of reflection so students are engaged with the content from the documentary prior to the chat, and have an opportunity to critically assess how the experience can inform their future social work practice. We have written in more detail about the assignment in previous blog posts which include detailed instructions for the assignment, grading rubrics and tips on how to introduce your students to Twitter. Our first chat was held on October 28, 2014, and you can read details about it here, including a transcript of tweets from the conversation. There is no cost to educators or students to participate in the chat, and we welcome anyone, especially social work practitioners, to join the chat.

 

Because we are working to improve the chat and the assignment as an educational experience for social work students, we are very interested in any feedback from social work educators. Please contact us (by clicking on our names below) if you plan to have your class or maybe a student group participate in the chat. We also welcome questions.

 

Jimmy Young

Laurel Hitchcock

#Reflections on Fall 2014 Semester

Blogging seems to be one of those things that ALWAYS gets put to the back burner. It’s funny actually, because I think that blogging has a vital place in academia and the world of research, but I just still can’t manage to find the time. Keeping this in mind, I though I would post a couple of thoughts from this semester where I knew I should have posted those thoughts here. The thoughts center around my research interests in the use of social media in social work education as well as the social media course I teach.

First things first, this semester Laurel Hitchcock and I had an amazing experience with our Live Twitter Chat. We partnered with the #MacroSW folks to promote the chat and had students from all over the country, and even a few participants from across the pond, participate in the one hour event about income inequality. Laurel provides a great follow up to the event on her blog, but I would definitely echo here statements about getting students involved and excited about policy/macro issues. Students not only participated in the chat but also were required to write a one page reflection on the experience of being involved in the chat. The reflections were fantastic with many students expressing their astonishment at how they could engage with so many people in different locations from very diverse backgrounds. The civility of the chat was also noted when students politely disagreed with statements and mentioned in the reflection how they felt like it was nearly impossible to have a “political discussion” in this day and age without it turning into a negative battle of seemingly intellectual wit. You probably know what they mean if you have ever engaged in a Political Facebook discussion with your uncle Jerry.

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Other students noted that they now see value in social media, Twitter specifically, and understand how they could possibly use it to augment their learning. For me, this is one of my foremost goals of integrating social media into the classroom. Students today are bombarded with selfies, viral videos, or other content that has little to no value other than for the ephemeral moment that may or may not bring about a smile. They don’t understand that there is a treasure trove of information on various social media platforms and that once they understand how to use social media in a professional context, they can connect with others to learn and expand their knowledge. Naturally, of course, we need to teach students crucial digital literacies such as judgement because not everything is accurate or trustworthy.

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But the point is that information is readily accessible and if you know how to search and use critical thinking then you can find a lot of very useful information. This is another one of my main goals in using social media in the classroom, that is teaching students critical digital literacies and how to research information or topics by connecting with experts online.

I have operationalized this in my policy class when utilizing collaborative learning groups or CLG’s. Breaking students into small groups and having them work on various questions related to the social security act left some groups wondering where to start. Yes, there is always the book but I knew that at least 2 students in each group had either a tablet or laptop to access the internet. I encouraged them to find any information they could related to their questions dealing with the social security act. I then put Twitter on the big screen in the classroom and simply searched “Social Security” to see what people were sharing and discussing about online. It didn’t take long to find an individual I follow who had actually tweeted a link to a news piece from NPR. The piece directly related to some of the questions and I encouraged the group with those questions to use this source and share it with the class.

I want to reiterate that it is important to use critical thinking and digital literacies when finding information online, whether through social media or that Google machine. Part of my argument for using social media over Google lies in connecting with experts. A small example from my social media class this semester involved tweeting to Beth Kanter and Allison Fine, authors of the Networked Nonprofit and the textbook I use in my social media class.  Beth and Allison are expert social media users so it’s almost no wonder that they responded back but it is still great to connect with individuals online.   Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 3.27.51 PMI brought this up in class and also had several students throughout the semester share how they thought it was cool when experts or celebrities favorited or Re-Tweeted their tweets. It does feel good and it can be great to connect with these experts to engage in a conversation about a specific topic and then have that conversation impact your research.

One other thing that happened this semester in my social media class was getting our course hashtag #SOWK388 trending nationally on Twitter. It took place when the class was viewing the documentary Pink Ribbons Inc. and live tweeting their reactions to the film. I have written about tweeting with documentaries previously and I have an article that will be published based on this blog post sometime in 2015. I was probably more surprised than the class was when I got the notification in our Twitter feed and I shared with the class. Although they did immediately turn to Twitter to see…

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This is a screen shot of the Trends, along with an arrow to our course hashtag. I was alerted to the hashtag trending because of a service on twitter that provides these notifications and some basic stats. Here is another screen shot:

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 10.29.27 AM

 

A hashtag trending on Twitter means that it is one of the most tweeted about topics at that time. It’s being tweeted about so much so fast that Twitter picks it up in the trending pane. This was never a goal of tweeting documentaries but there are some potential educational benefits of having the course hashtag trend nationally and it can actually relate back to how I use live twitter chats. Because the hashtag was visible, we could have had a broader conversation on the topic of Cause Related Marketing, which is part of what Pink Ribbons Inc. is all about. We did not actually have anyone chime into our live tweets that morning but I think it could have been valuable to process with students and others on Twitter the reactions to this film and the topic of the week. This is essentially providing the application of theoretical learning that typically takes place in the classroom. In other words, using social media provides for an actual avenue where students can apply their learning.  I appreciate the opportunities afforded through connected learning and students have really begun to see the importance of social media in their lives. Especially beyond the selfies.

Now it’s time for the Holiday break and because I have a new prep for next semester I am going to unplug and enjoy my kids and everything that goes with the Holidays. Thanks for reading my blog and see you next year.

 

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