Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Past, Present, and Future of Social Work and Technology


How has technology evolved in social work practice? Where will it go? What does it mean to integrate technology into social work? A chart like this was used for on an education website. I thought it appropriate to use the format for a vision of social work. This may not be an all-inclusive list of these areas, but it is the starting a conversation of where we are headed as a profession.





Social Work 1.0
Social Work 2.0
Social Work 3.0
Advocacy
Letter writing, phone calls, organization of individuals or groups, protesting, and education campaigns through face to face, posters, or other literacy avenues promote communication and coordination of causes.
Using e-mail databases, websites, and blogs promote empowerment strategies for SW populations. List serves create awareness of actions for concerned groups or communication to law makers. Social media creates connections between diverse groups for solidarity.
Social media campaigns address disparities. Viral videos encourage action of populous. Voting through face recognition on phone promotes advocacy groups to develop “impact” voting online. Media campaigns and online community groups developed with resources available to all vulnerable populations.
Assessment
Questionnaires filled out by client or therapist. Face to face supervision for support. Assessment information available through reference books or journals.
Electronic treatment records, e-books and journals, online resources are utilized for assessment of clients.
Evaluations completed at home (through a software program) then online referral to appropriate therapists from database. Tests are taken online, all delivered to therapist upon appointment. Assessment computer in office for use by clients. Each assessment includes technology as an important part of evaluation.
Best Practices
Practice standards created by NASW.
NASW practice standards for each area of SW practice.
Collaboration of practice standards across disciplines in an online format. Searchable database of best practices. Inclusion of technology practices for each area of SW practice. Online therapy will become more prevalent needing practice standards.
Case Management
Client files are maintained in filing cabinets with hand written notes, referral sheets. SW use phone contact or office meetings for contact. A yearly (?) resource book printed for referrals.
Databases of clients kept on Excel or Access. Resources collected on Internet. Some client and program information kept in filing cabinet.
Electronic records are paperless. Online, professionally run support groups, for use by clients. Communication through text messaging/e-mailing information. Internet databanks for resources by geographic area/need. Resource availability in real time online (bed count, openings, etc.).
Community Work
Change empowered to communities by person to person contact. Government grants are specific for economic and social development.
List serves created for community action projects. Urban development focusing on digital inclusion for marginalized populations.
Creating new community through technology centers in-person and online. Technology training offered. Affordable digital resources offered through grants and government initiatives. Communities invest in themselves through technological action plans.
Continuing Education
In-services, trainings, and workshops face to face
Audio and video trainings for CEU’s, inclusion of 3 hours mandatory ethics training each cycle, online training for CEU’s, podcasts
Interactive trainings online offered including virtual role playing for technique, online recordings, and discussion groups during training.  Mandated 3 hours of technology issues training every cycle.
Education
All courses face to face, traditional synchronous learning using lectures, videotaping, audiotaping, and observation for studying and evaluation.
Courses online or blended, PowerPoint’s included in lecture. Formats are face to face and online. Learning management systems become standard. Some schools have one elective course on technology in SW. Start of asynchronous learning, podcasts, blogs, and online research becoming normalized.
Curriculum seamlessly integrates technology into appropriate uses for every course; learning combines synchronous and asynchronous approaches. All textbooks online. Open source data bases, use of smart phones, tablets, virtual learning modules, in pedagogy. As technology evolves so does curriculum. Courses discuss relevant topics with other SW schools through technology. Field placement sessions are evaluated through Google Glass.
Ethics
NASW ethical standards sent by booklet.
NASW ethical standards available online, revised as needed, technology standards are developed.
NASW ethics revised regularly as technology transforms, inclusion of specific technology issues included. All computer software and applications will be HIPAA compliant
Evidence Based Practice
EBP started to enhance the treatment outcomes with SW populations.
EBP acknowledged, implemented in SW research for efficacy. The beginnings of transition to Internet and applications use of EBP.
EBP designed for use on tablets or smart phones, free government/non-profit created computer software programs for EBP, interdisciplinary collaboration between fields through technology. Programming applications easily accomplished by SWs.
Fundraising
Donor cultivation through volunteers, direct mailings, newsletters, events, mainstream media, grants, benefits, auctions, capital campaigns, matching gifts and tracking data through Excel or Access Databases.
Fundraising software (e.g. ACCESS International, Blackbaud, Campagne Associates,), websites, e-mails, online newsletters, auctions available through online programs.
Using market segmentation data to strategize fundraising online, fundraising integration to social media sources, virtual events, multimedia presentations to smartphones/tablets, smartphone one click donations. Use of mobile payment tools during fundraisers. Big data is used for fundraising.
Multiculturalism
The start of understanding etic and emic responses to culture and diversity in SW practice.
Competence of multiculturalism expected in all aspects of SW education and practice.
Respecting the different aspects of culture when integrating technology.  The creation of culturally relevant software and applications advance learning and effectiveness with diverse populations. Interactive systems, virtual reality, and online programs will connect many cultures to break down prejudice and increase understanding.Evaluation of tech applications based upon collectivist/individualistic aspects of culture.

© Ellen Belluomini, LCSW Revised 9/2013

Where do you think technology is headed in social work?