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

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iPolicy: Exploring & Evaluating the use of iPads

I just received an email this morning that explained my iPolicy article published in the Journal of Technology in Human Services was one of the most downloaded articles of 2014. Now it’s being included in a special open access section along with many other journal articles from across the Routledge journal family for free. Yes FOR FREE. You can access my article at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15228835.2013.860366

and all the other articles at http://explore.tandfonline.com/page/beh/health-social-care-most-read/social-work#20824

Hope you enjoy and find something worth looking for 😀

#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:

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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.

 

History of Social Work

I will be the first to admit that when I was a student in my BSW program I was not the least bit interested in the history of my profession, but now as I look back I realize how foolish I was. Perhaps it has been due to spending time with a friend who is a History Professor or teaching more about the history of the social work profession in my classes but I understand now that history is incredibly important. To that end I want to share a great resource from the folks over at the Simmons School of Social Work and their Blog. They posted some great resources related to the topic of the History of Social Work recently and I think you should check them out. I plan to incorporate some of these into my classes in the future.

 

Water fountain on Washington St., South End

Image Credit: Boston Public Library.

iPolicy: Evaluating iPads in social welfare

In the Spring of 2013 I authored a couple blog posts on my social welfare policy course that was designated an iPad course. You can find the posts here and here as well as a post about an iPad specific assignment.

I also took the opportunity to conduct a small study on the experience and now you can see the full write up in the Journal of Technology in Human Services. The first 50 people to follow this link can download a free copy of the article “iPolicy: Exploring and Evaluating the use of iPads in a Social Welfare Policy Course.” The iPad was/is a great tool and I am still teaching an iPad required course, although the course is focused on social media, digital activism, and eCitizenship. The exciting thing about this class is that I teach it both online and face-to-face. This summer I am developing an iBook for the course in the Fall and so far using iBooks Author has been relatively easy and even Fun. Yes I dare say fun. I will try to come back to this journal to share my iBook and the experiences I have with this technology throughout the summer but I have a few things to finish up first. I hope you have great plans for the summer and be sure to stop back by this blog again in the future or sign up for email alerts. You can also follow me on Twitter 😀

#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.

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.

My Problem with the 2012 Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report

Well I guess that something had to ignite the fire enough within me to finally come back and write a blog post again in the midst of dissertating. I’m nearly done with the dissertation and plan to post many results here on my blog. This is also the reason for this post, or the fact that NTEN/ Blackbaud/ Common Knowledge just released their 2012 Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report. There is a wonderful Infographic, which sums up the report nicely and the link will also help you download the full report.

I have to say that the information is great. I am so glad that this data is being compiled and I have built a survey instrument using similar questions to these folks for my dissertation. I also compiled my data during the same time period, but with a much smaller sample that was focused on Nonprofit Human Service Organizations. I focus on these unique organizations because of their important roles in society and NO research has looked at how they use social media.

The Benchmark report and my dissertation have many things in common. This makes me smile because it indicates that my findings are generalizable. However, I do have some problems with the recent Report. The main problem is around their methodology. I understand they only solicited and primarily reported descriptive data, but they do not explain this in the report. They have a small section on their methods but nothing beyond that. This is critically important because of how the data is being used in practice. For all we know, the methods they used could be based upon incorrect statistical principles which would nullify all of the findings. I don’t think this has happened, but in a sector which promotes transparency I would think they would have no problem in divulging their methodology.

This is also important considering the new statistic they are reporting around the cost of a follower on Twitter and a Like on Facebook. They indicate that these numbers are based upon self-report and that respondents have different ways of calculating this cost. I would be extremely cautious when looking at this statistic and thinking about basing some budget decisions around this because there is no clear indication of how the number was developed. It is a good statistic, just not one I am very confident in.

I am defending my dissertation in a little over a week and will likely begin to disseminate my own findings after that date. This is mostly to help the community where I collected my data, but it will also help many other nonprofit human service organizations think about their own social media strategies, planning, and implementation.

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