#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 ūüôā

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 ‚Äúthe ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate messages in a wide variety of forms‚ÄĚ (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. ‚ÄúParticipatory 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‚ÄĚ (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 ūüôā 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 ūüôā

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¬†ūüôā

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.

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 ūüôā 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 ūüôā¬†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.

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.

#MacroSW Chat Follow Up

Last night Laurel Hitchcock and I moderated the #MacroSW Chat, hosted by @MSWatUSC to discuss the documentary film Inequality for All. This is the third semester where we have worked to create an opportunity to learn and discuss in openly networked spaces and I continue to be amazed the engagement by students and others. If you would like to view the transcript of the chat, head on over to Storify via this link > https://storify.com/MacroSW/3-12-15-macrosw-twitter-chat-inequality-for-all-1

 

I believe Laurel will post a follow up to this chat on her blog as well but I wanted to share some quick stats on the event last night. In all we had just under 100 users on Twitter engaging around the topic of Inequality and over 730 posts.¬†We had users from many different states and several countries represented. All these stats come from the website Keyhole¬†and so I’m not exactly sure how accurate they are but one thing I did like from the site is this really cool word cloud of some of the top Keywords.

http://keyhole.co/widget/jmGc9s/topics/7

I’m not sure that the widget will come through when I publish this post so here is a screen shot.

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This assignment has been really fun and even eye opening as I read through student’s reflection papers and I am constantly amazed at how much the students learn and recognize that Inequality is a real challenge and that they feel like the CAN do something about it. Stay tuned as Laurel and I continue to update and adapt this assignment. We have started gathering a bit more data and hope to share the results in the not to distant future.

Using Social Media to teach and assess Macro/Policy-based Social Work Competencies – #BPD2015 Conference

I am presenting with Dr. Laurel Hitchcock¬†at the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Director’s Annual 2015 Conference on March 6, 2015 about our social media assignment designed for social work students to learn about and try their hand at macro- and policy-practice skills. In this workshop, we describe how we developed, implemented and assessed this assignment which incorporates a documentary movie with a live Twitter chat. We will discuss things we learned along the way and offer tips on how other educators can incorporate a similar assignment into their courses. The learning objectives for this session include:

 

  1. Understand how the social media platform Twitter can be incorporated into assignments for social work policy courses at the BSW-level.
  2. Demonstrate how social work educators can assess attainment of competency among BSW students using a social media assignment paired with a Rubric for evaluation of the assignment’s learning outcomes.
  3. Appreciate the role of professional collaboration in the development, implementation and assessment of social media-based assignments.

 

We have previously written about this assignment on our blogs:

 

  1. Special #MacroSW Chat October 28th at 8pm CST from JimmySW’s Blog:

https://jimmysw.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/special-macrosw-chat-october-28th-at-8pm-cst/

 

  1. Follow-up to 10/28 #MacroSW Twitter Chat from Teaching Social Work Blog:

http://www.laureliversonhitchcock.org/2014/11/07/follow-up-to-1028-macrosw-twitter-chat/

 

Here is a link to the Prezi that we will show during the presentation (http://tiny.cc/SMAssignment_BPD2015).

 

Our next live Twitter chat for this assignment will be on March 12, 2015 9 PM EST/8 PM CST and we invite you all to join us. The chat is sponsored by #MacroSW. Click here for more details.

 

Finally, here is the abstract for our presentation:

 

Social media includes applications, digital technologies, and mobile devices that utilize the Internet in a manner to create an interactive dialogue among organizations, communities, and individuals (Richardson, 2006). More specifically, 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). Irrespective of the variety of terms and definitions, the role of the user as an active participant of interaction with others is paramount when describing social media (Kilpelainen, Paykkonen, & Sankala, 2011). 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; National Association of Social Workers [NASW], 2005). However, technology in social work education has been integrated sporadically with varying degrees of success, and the literature suggests social work educators need to increase their digital competencies or media literacy while carefully considering how and why to integrate technology into their courses and curricula (Hitchcock & Battista, 2013; Straub, 2009; Young, 2014). By doing so, educators can play a pivotal role in helping students to increase their own media literacy, and ultimately apply this knowledge to their own learning and subsequent practice.

 

This workshop will inform participants about the development, implementation and assessment of a social welfare macro/policy assignment for BSW students using the microblogging platform, Twitter and a documentary film. The assignment involves social work students from four different universities spread across different parts of the country using Twitter to participate in a live chat about a macro/policy issue highlighted in the film, and is embedded as part of a policy and or macro-practice course. Through the assignment, students actively engage in competency-based practice behaviors connected to professional behavior, policy practice and critical thinking while also increasing digital media literacies (CSWE, 2008). Specifically, students are able to use critical thinking augmented by creativity and curiosity to convey their thoughts and reactions to the issue being highlighted (EPAS 2.1.3), and students understand that policy affects service delivery. Students are able to engage in policy practice through this assignment by collaborating with others to advocate for policies that advance social well-being (EPAS 2.1.8).

 

Student assessment of competency attainment is achieved through a rubric designed specifically for the assignment and implemented across multiple classrooms. Rubrics have been increasingly used to evaluate and promote student learning (Gezie, Khaja, Chang, Adamek, & Johnsen, 2012; Stevens, Levi, & Walvoord, 2012). The presenters will share their experiences in designing and executing the assignment along with data demonstrating how the assignment’s rubric assessed student achievement of social work competencies. Lessons learned from the project will be shared and implications for the implicit curriculum will be reviewed.

 

References:

 

Coe Regan, J. A., & Freddolino, P. P. (2008). Integrating technology in the social work

            curriculum. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education.

Council on Social Work Education. (2008).   Educational Policy and Accreditation

            Standards. Washington, DC: Author.

Getz, L. (2012). Mobile App Technology for Social Workers. Social Work Today, 12 (3), 8 -10.

Gezie, A., Khaja, K., Chang, V. N., Adamek, M. E., & Johnsen, M. B. (2012). Rubrics as a Tool for Learning and Assessment: What

do Baccalaureate Students Think? Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 32(4), 421-437.

Hitchcock, L. I., & Battista, A. (2013). Social Media for Professional Practice: Integrating Twitter with Social Work Pedagogy. The Journal of

             Baccalaureate Social Work, 18(special issue), 33-45.

Kanter, B., & Fine, A. H. (2010). The networked nonprofit: Connecting with social media to drive change. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media.

              Business Horizons, 53, 59-68.

Kilpelainen, A., Paykkonen, K., & Sankala, J. (2011). The use of social media to improve social work education in remote areas. Journal of

              Technology in Human Services, 29(1), 1-12.

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.

Richardson, W. H. (2006). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Stevens, D. D., Levi, A. J., & Walvoord, B. E. (2012). Introduction to Rubrics: An Assessment Tool to Save Grading Time, Convey Effective

Feedback, and Promote Student Learning (2nd edition.). Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Straub, E. T. (2009). Understanding Technology Adoption: Theory and Future Directions for Informal Learning. Review of Educational

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Research, 79(2), 625‚Äď649.

Young, J. (2014). iPolicy: Exploring and Evaluating the use of iPads in a Social Welfare Policy Course. Journal of Technology in Human

              Services, 32(1-2), 39-53.

 

 

#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.

IMG_2055-1

 

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.

 

#SWKTweets from #BPD2014

Just a quick note to share the link for the Live Twitter chat Laurel Hitchcock and I presented at BPD.
http://t.co/PiqLkovh0W

I had promised to post more on this presentation a few weeks back but the semester has been a little overwhelming. Laurel has written up a spectacular post on her blog, and you should definitely check it out if you are interested in this presentation and understanding more about teaching Professional Social Work Skills with Twitter.

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