Technology And Social Work Education

Anyone who has been in a classroom in recent years, either as a teacher or a student, knows that technology has changed the nature of education. Laptops, smart boards and iPads have become as ubiquitous as blackboards and chalk once were. Students expect to be engaged technologically as well as intellectually, and teachers often ask themselves whether their students are texting in class or researching the topics under discussion. Social work education is no exception. Today’s social workers increasingly use technology to engage their clients, taking on the roles of technological educator or, advocate. Why wouldn’t they do the same in the classroom?

Technology in the MSW Classroom

Today’s top teachers use educational technology to engage students in discussions and classroom activities, and that includes MSW classrooms. Social work professors are using Twitter to build communities and extend discussion beyond the classroom. Students are researching projects quickly and effectively through online research databases, and learning systems like the one used by USC’s Virtual Academic Center are facilitating collaborative learning online. Technology is no longer a field separate or distinct within education; it has become a fundamental part of the way we interact socially, inside the classroom as well as outside of it.

New Online MSW Programs

A new generation of online MSW programs is already making use of the latest advances in educational technology to make the faculty and curricula of the country’s best graduate schools accessible everywhere. Programs use familiar social networking and video conferencing technology to create online classrooms, allowing students to converse and collaborate across time zones and state lines. Because no social work education would be complete without a fieldwork component, the best programs require field work and support students by helping to locate and secure field placements. Earning an MSW online not only equips students with knowledge of the most recent advances in the social work field, it also familiarizes them with technology that could prove useful in the field.

Technology in the Field

Just as 21st-century technology has become a feature of the educational landscape, it has also provided valuable tools that many social workers use in the field. In 2005 the National Association of Social Workers and Association of Social Work Boards even created standards of technology practice to officially recognize the role of technology in the profession. In keeping with the political, philosophical and ethical values of the field, social workers recognize the potential of technology to bring them closer to their colleagues and clients. If you’re skeptical of the value technology offers to the helping profession, just take a look at the global conversation happening on Twitter between thousands of social workers using the hash tag: #SWSCMedia.

The profession of social work has relies on finding just, creative and practical ways to help others. While some social workers remain wary of technology, an increasing number of social work professionals are seamlessly incorporating technology into their practices. From helping clients achieve the technological literacy they need to care for themselves to participating in online policy debates, the field is constantly becoming more connected. Today’s social work educators are no exception. Whether social work education is delivered in traditional, online or hybrid classrooms, students and professors are taking advantage of the latest advances in technology. And those same students might just transform the field of social work with the technological advances of tomorrow.