Why this topic?

     Technology functions in the background of our lives without thought of how it works, much like our thoughts on plumbing (unless you are a plumber of course). We do not think of pipes until they become a big issue. This type of unconscious existence works for a technologically literate society, the less literate parts of the society become, the more the plumbing breaks down or ceases to exist. The evidence of social exclusion, digital illiteracy, and a decrease in motivation to access new technologies is increasing the digital divide in underserved populations (Aerschot & Rodousakis, 2008; Hick, 2006; Pierce, 2009). The gap between the privileged and the underserved is expanding with advantages mounting toward digitally literate individuals (Steyaert & Gould, 2009). Consumer research is now driven by online databases and purchasing (Wei & Hindman, 2011). This type of economy does not allow for the opinions of populations in technology deserts. Social services needs to become aware of how technology affects vulnerable populations and solutions for technological consciousness.

     There have been significant gaps in prior research addressing the need for training of social workers in technological intervention with client populations. Social work educators have been lax in developing integrated systems of pedagogy for technology as achieved for multicultural learning in the 80’s (Youn, 2007; Vera & Speight, 2003). Research focuses on technology primarily centering on interagency processes instead of client needs (Youn, 2007; Zhang & Gutierrez, 2007). There is emergent evidence based research integrating technology with client practice (Allen, Wallace, Renes, Bowen,  & Burke, 2010; Stuhlmiller & Tolchard, 2009; VanDeMark, Burrell, Lamendola, Hoich, Berg, & Medina, 2010) Evidence based client centered technology should be one of the standards of practice addressed in curriculum development.

     The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) released technology ethical standards of practice in 2005. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE, 2010) includes a statement in their accreditation guidelines of educational policy 1.2, stating “additional factors include new knowledge, technology, and ideas that may have a bearing on contemporary and future social work education and practice”  and educational policy 2.1.10,  “Practice knowledge includes identifying, analyzing, and implementing evidence-based interventions designed to achieve client goals; using research and technological advances”  (pp. 2, 6-7). The support of technological integration by an accrediting and licensing body is significant in the preparation of social work curriculum. There has been little or no current literature on implementation of technological evidenced based interventions in social work curriculum or how students should integrate technology into practice helping vulnerable populations. How social workers may help bridge this digital divide in education and practice is the focus of this blog. I hope to post helpful information one to two times a week.

Aerschot, L., & Rodousakis, N. (2008). The link between socio-economic background and Internet use: barriers faced by low socio-economic status groups and possible solutions. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Sciences, 21(4), 317-351. doi:10.1080/1351161080257692
CSWE. (2008, October). Educational policy and accreditation standards. Retrieved from http://www.cswe.org/File.aspx?id=14115
Hick, S. (2006). Technology, Social Inclusion and Poverty: An Exploratory Investigation of a Community Technology Center. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 24(1), 53-67. doi:10.1300/J017v24n01̱04
Katz, J., & Aspden, J. (1997). Motivations for and barriers to Internet usage: results of a national public opinion survey. Internet Research, 7(3), 170. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
National Association of Social Workers. , & Association of Social Work Boards (2005). Technology and social work practice. Retrieved from http://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/naswtechnologystandards.pdf
Pierce, J. (2009). Blind inclusion: New technology designed for the margins. Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture, 15(4), 525-536. doi:10.1080/13504630903043881    
Steyaert, J., & Gould, N. (2009). Social Work and the Changing Face of the Digital Divide. British Journal of Social Work, 39(4), 740-753. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Stuhlmiller, C., & Tolchard, B. (2009). Computer-assisted CBT for depression and anxiety: Increasing accessibility to evidence-based mental health treatment. Journal Of Psychosocial Nursing And Mental Health Services, 47(7), 32-39. doi:10.3928/02793695-20090527-01
VanDeMark, N., Burrell, N., Lamendola, W., Hoich, C., Berg, N., & Medina, E. (2010). An exploratory study of engagement in a technology-supported substance abuse intervention. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, And Policy, 510.
Vera, E. M., & Speight, S. L. (2003). Multicultural competence, social justice, and counseling psychology: Expanding our roles. The Counseling Psychologist, 31(3), 253–272.
Vodde, R., White, S., & Meacham, M. (2010). The Medium Is the Master: Postmodernism and Hypertechnology in Social Work Education. Technology, Pedagogy And Education, 19(1), 111-126.
Waldman, J., & Rafferty, J. (2008). Technology-Supported Learning and Teaching in Social Work in the UK—A Critical Overview of the Past, Present and Possible Futures. Social Work Education, 27(6), 581-591. doi:10.1080/02615470802201531
Wei, L., & Hindman, D. (2011). Does the Digital Divide Matter More? Comparing the Effects of New Media and Old Media Use on the Education-Based Knowledge Gap. Mass Communication & Society, 14(2), 216-235. doi:10.1080/15205431003642707
Youn, E. (2007). The relationship between technology content in a masters of social work curriculum and technology use in social work practice: A qualitative research study. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 25(1-2), 45-58. doi:10.1300/J017v25n01_03
Zhang, W., & Gutierrez, O. (2007). Information Technology Acceptance in the Social Services Sector Context: An Exploration. Social Work, 52(3), 221-231.