Friday, December 21, 2012

Technology and Social Work... what I'm up to

It's fun to think about all the ways that the things that I love overlap. In this blog, I've written mostly about my overlapping interests in social work and education. Here are some things I am doing lately that draw upon these overlapping interests:

1. Professional advocacy:  I recently joined the BPD Technology Committee.  BPD is a group that focuses on undergraduate social work education. As part of this group, I give input regarding recommendations about how to share information about technology with other educators.  I will present on some ways to use technology in the classroom at the 2013 BPD Conference in South Carolina.  I have also recently been elected to the HUSITA board.  HUSITA is a group that focuses on promoting the ethical use of technology in human services.

2. Research and dissemination: In January 2013, I am presenting a two-hour workshop at the Society for Social Work Research (SSWR) on the ways that I have used technology to support research fidelity.  As the evaluator of a federal grant on Family Group Decision Making, I have developed videocasts and blog resources to help support the way that we conduct research and evaluation of an intervention project.  At the conference I will share these methods with other researchers.  I will share technology I am using, such as jing, blogger, and other tools, and talk about how they have benefited our work.

3. Classroom activities:  I have posted before about how I am using videocasts in the classroom to share intervention techniques in children's mental health.  This is a fun project for a lot of reasons; it allows students to contribute to professional development of each other; it is a resource that we can share with other professionals; it is applied work that ties research to practice; it allows students to learn new technological skills.  They squirm quite a bit about having to record themselves, but it is one of my favorite assignments. 

Last semester I started using a new technology-enhanced assignment related to "flipped classroom" theory.  I am using journaling on blackboard as a way to get feedback about questions before class so I can incorporate student's questions directly in to the class lecture.  We focus more on questions, discussion, and practice in class and spend less time doing "chapter review."  Through technology, I am able to help make sure students are reading outside of class so we can have richer discussions in class.

4. Publications:  I am currently working on a few technology-related publications, including a review of all the things a professor must think about when inviting a guest speaker in to the classroom via distance technology (there's a lot to think about!), as well as a research article related to the flipped classroom technique that I mentioned previously.  When we use new tools and techniques we have to share the outcomes!  

5. Podcasting:  I am very excited about my podcast in the works.  I have many hopes and dreams about this work, and it is a creative project that stimulates lots of parts of my brain! This podcast will focus on research-to-practice  in child welfare.  I will interview people who do research and intervention in child welfare in a way that is approachable for child welfare workers in the field.  Child welfare workers spend a lot of time in the car, so I hope they'll download episodes for the road and learn about best practice that is coming out of research. I was a child welfare worker for many years, and it is work that is close to my heart. My hope is that eventually I will be able to offer continuing education based on the podcasts.  I would like to post short tours of child welfare agencies across the country- child welfare environments look so different from place to place. I hope it also encourages a broader understanding of what child welfare work is (and isn't) and might attract more social workers to the important field. The first episode will launch in Jan 2013, and I am lining up interviews with researchers across the country.

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