Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Example of a Technology Assessment/rubric for use with Families

Happy New Year everyone! I am attaching a link for a technology assessment I use with families. This link goes to my website page of educational trainings. Under technology series, look down to technology assessments. You will see sample questions and the technology assessment rubric. Use these as you see fit in your practice. If you have any suggestions, modifications, or want to share your experience with this tool, please do!

Image result for family and technology

 Link to Resource:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Attention Field Supervisors and Social Work Students: Making the most out of your field experience learning plan

           Each semester I work with my interns on their learning plan. Most of my interns are digital natives. I am a digital immigrant. Technology was not even available to me in social work practice until the nineties.  I find it interesting to observe how digital natives relate technology to their practice. These natives often do not understand how to connect digital opportunities with their client populations beyond Internet Searches.

Here I offer some digital possibilities for students to integrate theory with practice in their field settings.  Each one should be discussed with the field supervisor or in the field class. If you have practice with any of them please let me know your experience.

CSWE Field Competency
       Learning Opportunities/Tasks
Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly.
·     Create a LinkedIn account
·     Join social work groups on LinkedIn relating to your social work population and the profession
·     Keep an online journal of your experiences each week and share with supervisor, examples are Penzu or Day One
·     Create a blog between you and your supervisor to track resources for your client population, ask questions, or share tools, be sure to make the blog private
·     Curate topics on Scoop.It or Triberr about social work interests
·     Google podcasts, pictures, and videos of various social work events/training to understand professional standards for communication, dress and behavior
·     Join social work blogs and magazines online, use Bundlepost to keep up with them
·     Identify national, regional, and local conferences within your education needs

Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice.
·     Join social work groups on LinkedIn relating to social work ethics
·     Read the online ethical standard NASW creates in your practice area and the technology standards
·     Research topics in the Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics
·     Use a search engine to explore ethical dilemmas in social work practices and journal about how you would have responded to share with your supervisor
·     Research an ethical decision making process online and relate it to the agency or population served
·    Evaluate your technology practices for ethical applications and guidelines in social media and communication usage.

Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments.
·     Review Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy to integrate technology into problem solving
·     Search for similar programs online to compare their research based strategies to your placement
·     Using Google Images, identify visual models for assessment, prevention, intervention, and evaluation of your field population
·      Search Ted for inspirational videos about agency or client interests
·     Place communication with clients, community or other agencies on GoogleDocs for review by other social workers
·     Video tape yourself addressing differences in practice, problem solving conflicts or working with difficult clients (give friends a script as to how you want them to behave)

Engage diversity and difference in practice.
·     Interpret client data collected by agency against community data for any discrimination
·     Identify three issues with diversity and culture you have had with client populations, then develop a survey on Surveymonkey.com explaining each issue
and asking for other professionals, within the organization, viewpoint
·     Develop a list of links relevant to understanding cultures served by your organization
·     Videotape different cultural segments at a protest to understand their point of view on the matter 
·   Identify microaggressions online and discuss how they may impact your client population.

Advance human rights and social and economic justice.
·     Start a campaign on Causes.com or another charity site
·     Cultivate an advocacy blog
·     Join advocacy lists for your causes online
·     Find your local and federal representatives online and write a letter in support or against legislation affecting a population of interest
·     Make a viral video on a social or economic justice issue to post on YouTube
·     Create a Facebook page or Pinterest for your issue
·     Keep a political log of issues affecting your population online, share it on social media

Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research.
·     Research charities on charitynavigator.org to see where your organization fits
·     Find which EIPs your organization uses and how they research their programs, then use your school database to research alternative approaches to affect change
·     Discover outcomes at your agency and compare with other agencies
·     Pinpoint and review grant applications online for EIP needs
·     View information on research through Storify or create your own Storify

Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment.
·     Identify and assess websites which will empower your client population
·     Generate a list of android and apple applications for use with your population
·     Create a systems view of how the digital divide affects your population
·     Design an online class for clients or staff at Rcampus or MyiCourse, offer the course at your agency or within the community
·     Model a technology ecomap of a client system
·     Develop a method to empower clients usage of technology to advance their problem solving and opportunity

Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services.
·     Identify appropriate grants and foundations online for use by your agency
·     Find the advocacy group for your population and research policies the group works toward changing
·     Host a twitter debate about policy relevant to your setting, market to appropriate stakeholders
·     Recognize and create an agency policy on GoogleDocs and open it for feedback

Respond to contexts that shape practice.
·     Analyze and compare rural and urban digital solutions to the social issue addressed, evaluate problems
·     Videotape interviews with community stakeholders for upload to agency website
·     Evaluate digital tools and technology systems at your agency, present to supervisor, director, or board
·     Curate relevant technology changes applicable to your agency with Curata

Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
·     Use a GoPro, with informed consent, to tape a segment of the day you are most engaged with your client population
·     Complete technology assessments with clients
·     Identify and intervene with appropriate technology in your client setting
·     Develop a plan for efficiently using the agency’s electronic records system
·     Assess social media usage at your agency and create a social engagement strategy for your placement
Revised 11/27/13

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chronosystem and the Digtal Divide: Part V

The chronosystem incorporates the aspect of time during a person’s life. Developmental milestones and how they relate to significant experiences of a child influence their behavior, values, and beliefs. Bers (2010) discusses the need to promote a Positive Development framework moving past confidence and competence with technology to mentor children toward development of a positive relationship in their digital interactions. These relationships build tools to include content creation, creativity, collaboration, communication, community-building, and choice of conduct (Bers, 2010). Theodotou (2010) researched technology in early childhood learning the efficacy of children in their cognitive abilities is enhanced with technology and adult mentorship. There is a downside to when technology is integrated into child learning. A child who becomes immersed in the digital world may experience vision problems or increasing obesity (Theodotou, 2010). Or what happens when there is a trauma related to an interaction with technology? Exploring negative technology interactions in the lifespan is an area yet explored. Research needs to address the advantages and disadvantages of using digital tools along the lifespan. 

 As we move forward into our digital future it is clear, technology is only going to progress. We can be at the mercy of technology or identify, assess, adapt, and develop constructive solutions to a changing society. How have you adapted your practice?


Bers, M. (2010). Beyond computer literacy: supporting youth's positive development through technology. New Directions For Youth Development, 2010(128), 13-23. doi:10.1002/yd.371

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1994). Ecological models of human development. International Encyclopedia of Education, 3(2),

Theodotou, E. (2010). Using Computers in Early Years Education: What Are the Effects on Children's Development? Some Suggestions Concerning Beneficial Computer Practice. Online Submission,

Friday, October 11, 2013

Exosystem and Macrosystem Impact within the Digital Divide: Part IV

The indirect impact of a digital world influences people through the exosystem.  Examples of how an ecosystem impacts an adolescents life is seen through advances in school technologies, changes in government standards, issues at parents workplaces, or significant technology advancements. Effects of the exosystem on adolescents may seem subtle but the impact can disrupt their lives in profound ways. The difficulty is in understanding the indirect nature of consequences impacting the adolescent.

 An adolescent girl is having behavior problems at school. There is an IEP meeting to discuss the issue. After the meeting one of the teachers gets a funny mass e-mail from a teacher’s aide. The teacher’s aide works with the teenage girl, so the teacher replies giving her the specifics of the meeting, the girl’s first name, and her opinions about how this girl will always have problems and is a troublemaker. Instead of “reply”, she hits “reply all.” Now the entire school is informed of the meeting and the teachers’ opinions about the teenage girl. How does this affect other teachers’ behaviors with this girl? This exosystem impacts the behavior of other’s toward her without her knowing. 

The macrosystem is the development of values and beliefs based upon the societal experiences of a person. Societal experiences can come from areas of culture, type of government, SES, or geographical area. This person interprets their understanding of these values and beliefs and forms the structure of how they understand the workings of their world. Past and present experiences map the filter of people and their perceptions of events. 

A child, who is from a Latino family, experiences a digital divide in his life due to negative attitudes his family has about technology. Culturally, his parents and grandparents do not believe in using technology. His family believes technology takes away from the collectivist nature of their culture.  His grandmother says “I see how other families don’t pay attention to each other because of computers. You don’t want this for your family do you?” The mother and father have cell phones for communication.  After much begging, the father buys the boy a Nintendo 64 at GameStop for his birthday because it is in the family budget. The boy cannot use any of the games his friends play. When he invites his friends over, they laugh at him over how old his system is compared to theirs. The boy begins to distance himself from those friends and transitions to others who don’t have access to the latest digital toy. Fast forward in the boy’s life to his first job at 15 years old. He finds that many of the mechanisms in the job are computerized.  Easily frustrated with the computer, he quits because of feeling inadequate. How is the digital divide manifesting in his life? How could this impact the boy’s self-efficacy? Big data collectors do not have statistics on this type of family, how are they represented economically, socially, or politically?


If we look at big data, Internet activity is followed by companies to advertise specifically toward a child’s economic, political, or social behavior. Due to the lack of government guidelines with big data, children can be manipulated without knowing it is happening. This type of macrosystem interaction is all in digital form. PC’s, phones, video games, are building in the technology to track movements and usage. The impact of this future is unclear and troubling.  We do know children will be more vulnerable to manipulation through this type of direct marketing. How will it change their lens of society?

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1994). Ecological models of human development. International Encyclopedia of Education, 3(2),

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mesosystems and Student Self Efficacy: Part III

Two microsystems coming together form a mesosystem. These systems are a connection between two microsystems in an adolescent’s life.  The influence these connections make can form a divide in a digital relationship.  There are two areas specific to technology’s impact with the behavior between adolescent microsystems, access, and behavior when participating.  Much has been researched about the positive and negative effects of technology tools on adolescent behavior (Ernst, 2013; Ives; 2012; Lepisto, 2012).

There is an absence of research on the socioeconomic impact on adolescents not growing up with access to technological systems.  If a family is economically disadvantage, not having a computer or game councils in the home, how does this impact an adolescent when they visit peers with these devices? Are their more bullying behaviors, socialization issues, economic impact as the child grows older due to lack of parental digital literacy?  Schools offer computer hours after school, but marginalized adolescents may have no transportation home to utilize these hours. Digitally literate students have years of experience with technological systems and tools. If students become intrinsically motivated to pursue information due to digital games how does this translates to the motivation systems of students without access?

Hsieh, Cho, Liu, and Schallert (2008) studied the self-efficacy of goal completion with middle school students in technology integrated curriculums. Self-efficacy has been studied as a predictor of academic motivation and achievement in STEM courses (Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2009). Students in technology enhanced learning environments exhibited a significantly increased level of self-efficacy and motivation towards goal achievement in science courses (Hsieh et al., 2008). Not only were these areas affected, but their overall scores were higher.

Important questions for understanding the digital divide in an adolescent’s mesosystem.
1.     How does the adolescent adapt when teachers give technology assignments to students without access?
2.     Do teachers evaluate access of individual students in the classroom?
3.     What other areas of a student’s interactions are placed at risk due to lack of technology access? Friendships with other adolescents who have a higher self-efficacy due to access?
4.     In students lacking reliable access for years, how does this affect their connections to higher education, livable wage employment, understanding economic advantages available through the Internet, or socialization experience?

The integration of these systems in a student’s life brings more questions than answers. Evaluation of this divide with marginalized students brings awareness of the problem and constructive solutions to bridge the digital gap between the systems in their lives. Social work can advance solutions for this population by developing solutions for the systems impacting students’ lives.

Ernst, J. V., & Moye, J. J. (2013). Social Adjustment of At-Risk Technology Education Students. Journal Of Technology Education, 24(2), 2-13.
Hsieh, P., Cho, Y., Liu, M., & Schallert, D. L. (2008). Middle School Focus: Examining the Interplay between Middle School Students Achievement Goals and Self-Efficacy in a Technology-Enhanced Learning Environment. American Secondary Education, 36(3), 33-50.
Ives, E. A. (2012, October 1). iGeneration: The Social Cognitive Effects of Digital Technology on Teenagers. Online Submission,
Lepisto, B. (2012). MySpace, Your Space, Whose Space? The Use/Abuse of Technology in the Treatment of an Adolescent. Journal Of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 11(2), 113-120. doi:10.1080/15289168.2012.673405

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Digital Divide through the Eyes of a Microsystem Part II

In order to understand how the digital divide affects client populations I will focus on the most technologically integrated clients, teenagers. The microsystem of the teenager consists of their relationships with parents, peers, teachers, and people in their extracurricular activities. These relationships have the most influence on teenagers’ behavior utilizing technology. There are two aspects of digital divide to consider when addressing this population, access and lack of technological education by the relationships in their microsystem.

Access is the first aspect of an expanding area in the digital divide of adolescents. Twenty years ago a lack of access meant no Internet. Today, access has developed to include technological hardware and software connecting people to the world. An average teenager uses a computer, cell phone, and game systems. Pew statistics report “93% of teens have a computer or have access to one at home, 78% of teens now have a cell phone, and almost half (47%) of them own smartphones and 86% use game systems.” I understand, 7% doesn’t seem like a lot of digital divide, but considering this equals 1,505,980 of teens between the ages of 15-18, we may take a second look. Teenagers without access to digital tools at home and with friends run the risk of falling behind in social interactions and dropping out of high school due to inadequate technology access and utilization (Ernst & Moye, 2013). If these students fall behind in understanding digital tools their motivation to progress in school is diminished (Murray, 2011). Adolescents without technology access will be less prepared than their counterparts to succeed in school or the workplace leaving them economically disadvantaged.

Teen 'Sexting'

The second aspect of the digital divide to consider is risk associated with ignorance of digital tools on the behavior of adolescents. The risk of the digital divide is the lack of understanding and connection to adolescents by their parents and other significant mentors.  Bullying, communication problems with friends, cyber hacking, cheating at school, and inappropriate sexual behaviors are all areas where some parents lack awareness. The digital divide between parents and their adolescents can lead to significant consequences. Bulling online can lead to depression or suicide. Predators can direct unsuspecting teenagers to high risk sexual behaviors increasing their exposure to inappropriate expression of their vulnerable and emerging sexuality.  A McAfee (2012) study stated “29% of parents feel overwhelmed by technology and hoping for the best when it comes to their kids online.” Family connection is another aspect of the digital divide. Turkle (2011) discusses the risks inherent in social media to the stability of the family unit. The divide in understanding digital technologies between teenagers and their parents can increase or decrease family connection (Padilla-Walker, Coyne, & Fraser, 2012). Without further study and education, families may have significant risk of unwanted effects on their teenager in a digitally divided world.


Ernst, J. V., & Moye, J. J. (2013). Social Adjustment of At-Risk Technology Education Students. Journal Of Technology Education, 24(2), 2-13.

Hongwei, Y. (2013). Young American Consumers' Online Privacy Concerns, Trust, Risk, Social Media Use, and Regulatory Support. Journal Of New Communications Research, 5(1), 1-30.

McAfee. (2012, June). The digital divide: How the online behavior of teens is getting past parents. Retrieved from http://www.mcafee.com/us/resources/misc/digital-divide-study.pdf

Murray, A. (2011). Montessori Elementary Philosophy Reflects Currents Motivation Theories.
Montessori Life, 23(1), 22–33.

Padilla-Walker, L. M., Coyne, S. M., & Fraser, A. M. (2012). Getting a High-Speed Family Connection: Associations between Family Media Use and Family Connection. Family Relations, 61(3), 426-440.
Turkle, S. (2011). Alone together. New York: Basic Books

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Understanding the Digital Divide through Systems Theory - Part I

           How do we define the digital divide with marginalized or vulnerable populations? Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) systems theory can elaborate on the interplay a digital divide has on individuals and systems as they interact. I believe digital divide is a term needing more definition. Systems theory can illuminate issues the digital divide has throughout human development. The next series of posts are to be focused upon the explanation of digital divide and its relation to the subsystems of micro, meso, exo, macro, and chrono in social work practice. I expanded on the systems classification to include a broad definition of how each area may be impacted digitally.  

Areas of Potential Digital Divide
age, sex, health, mental health, socioeconomic status, culture
Access and /or knowledge or digital tools (computer, tablet, smart phone), software, apps, game systems, digital footprint, technological innovations applicable to life skills
School, parenting, extracurricular activities, social media,  health services, gaming
Caregivers/parents use of technology, social, economic or political systems, school digital integration, community resources integration of technology, electronic medical records, peers tech literacy, big data
Cultural, socioeconomic, political, spiritual, and sexual influence of attitudes/values toward technological resources and tools, laws or digital resource rules governing technological uses, business media, big data
Timing of introduction to digital tools, generational differences regarding introduction of technology, effects of crisis related to positive and negative technology impact, effects of the rapid progression of technological advances

The first system to be discussed is the microsystem. Feel free to debate how you see the digital divide occurring with your populations.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1994). Ecological models of human development. International Encyclopedia of Education, 3(2),