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Social Work Technology Adoption in Social Work Education
by
Jennifer Parga, Sara Schwartz
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 March 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0265

Introduction

The social work profession has taken intentional steps to adopt technology and launch new innovations to streamline administrative functions, monitor program outcomes, and improve the overall delivery of services. Historically, however the profession of social work has been reluctant to embrace technology as a type of service delivery intervention at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. This hesitation has largely been related to the costs associated with creating and onboarding new systems, a lack of conceptual understanding of the ways that technology can improve services, and challenges associated with implementation and training. The profession is now committed more than ever to technology that it focused one of the twelve Social Work Grand Challenges on Harnessing Technology for Social Good. This Grand Challenge calls for the establishment of innovations in the ways that the profession integrates technology into its mission and vision to benefit society and emerging social work professionals. Students in schools of social work have been fortunate to see some positive impact from technology, specifically in the delivery of social work curriculum. Social work educators have been providing distance education (DE) to hard-to-reach communities for decades; however, the 21st century has witnessed an unprecedented growth and expansion of virtual learning options. Schools of social work around the country are rapidly designing and implementing unique platforms to deliver a combination of asynchronous (self-paced, online, web-based content) and synchronous (live sessions with video streaming capabilities) content which transforms the way that social workers are trained and how they interact with their professors and colleagues. This annotated bibliography explores how social work education has adopted technology, considers the implications of these advances, and includes articles which compare outcomes for different delivery formats. The authors will default to the language, asynchronous or synchronous, described above to provide context on the level of consumer interaction the technology provides. It is worth noting that there are not many sources on this topic; however, the sources included (albeit from a technology standpoint, some are outdated) are organized by where the technology is coming from: technology in a campus-based classroom for all courses except actual field work, technology being utilized in community-based organizations, and technology utilized to deliver social work courses asynchronously or synchronously. Because of this distinction, some sources provide a detail in the application of technology (i.e., hardware, software programs) while others consider implementation effectiveness (i.e., consumer and user benefit, client impact). It is anticipated that both views will introduce new considerations for intersectionality of social work and technology and prepare educators to train the next generation of tech-savvy social workers.

Books General Overview

The books in this section explore the utilization of technology in the social work field like Coe and Menon 1999 Part 1 or Martin 2009 Part 2 and educational institutions like Coe and Menon 1999 Part 2 or Martin 2009 Part 1. These books also capture a significant point in the digital age and identify where social work curriculum and community-based agencies are at this moment in time and provide insight on where we could be in the future. Abels 2005; Taylor, et al. 2016; and Hill and Shaw 2011 provide a DE overview from inception through the present to the future. Teaching pedagogies and considerations in Raymond, et al. 1998 are still relevant through the exploration of the impact of technology on learning communities and ethical considerations. MacFadden 2005 discusses asynchronous opportunities only, while Regan and Freddolino 2008 provides a holistic approach and includes synchronous, asynchronous, and blended technologies. Martin 2009; Menon and Brown 2001; and Vigilante, et al. 2016 are organized into separate parts: typically education (teaching while utilizing technology, fewer about teaching students how to use technology, or the technology used for course delivery) and/or practice (technology utilization in the field domestically, internationally, or interdisciplinary). Please note that because the majority of the books in this section are collections of articles with varying emphasis, they contain the most inclusive collections on the topic of technology in social work; however, it must be noted that the pre-2007 sources included still provide practical application strategies and concepts which can be applicable today, although the technology might have been updated.

  • Abels, P. 2005. Distance education in social work planning, teaching, and learning. New York: Springer.

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    Historical account from multiple social work contributors (including inaugural DE program contributor and University of South Carolina Dean Emeritus and Distinguished Professor Emeritus Frank Raymond) who have worked in and continue to implement, maintain, and expand access to DE. This book looks at the utilization of interactive television (ITV) programs (i.e., synchronous). Contributors provide transparency on what being involved in DE could be like for faculty and schools of social work considering DE programs.

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    • Coe, J. A., and G. M. Menon. 1999. Computers and information technology in social work: Education, training, and practice. New York: Haworth.

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      Book is broken up into two parts: Part 1 focuses on technology out in the field of social work with examples in the United States and internationally. Part 2 focuses on technology in social work education with an emphasis on shifting teaching pedagogy and includes technology implementation examples with web-based instruction (asynchronous) and video conferencing (synchronous), specific instructional strategies, and one article on the student perspective as a consumer.

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      • Hill, A., and I. Shaw. 2011. Social work and ICT. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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        UK perspective on benefits and “ills” between social work and information and communication technology (ICT) in modern-day social work education and practice. Examples look beyond administrative (e-mail, scheduling, communication) application (although included) and specifically look to identify “best practice” in aspects of service delivery (i.e., agency infrastructure, end user contribution, tools, implementation, etc.) and in social work education (general or social work–specific ICT training, European Computer Driving License, LeaRNS, etc.).

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        • MacFadden, R. J. 2005. Web-based education in the human services: Models, methods, and best practices. Vol. 23. New York: Haworth.

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          All Canadian or US articles included in this book are about online delivery or web-based education (nothing referring to a physical campus or face to face), where the curriculum is delivered online (asynchronous). Multiple articles recommend educators or content creators to consider a constructivist emotionally oriented approach which identifies the emotional needs of students as imperative to student success.

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          • Martin, J., ed. 2009. Information communication technologies for human services education and delivery: Concepts and cases. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

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            Focus of Part 1 of this book includes practical application, using blended and asynchronous approaches, of specific technology (CoNote, TechWEBCT, social media) in social work education, and three articles also look at how to foster connection and build community in an online environment. Part 2 is related to technology applied in the social work advocacy, case management, health promotion and policy fields with specific software listed: e-MAVINISM, Centrelink, e-BARIO, e-WRAP.

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            • Menon, G. M., and N. K. Brown. 2001. Using technology in human services education: Going the distance. Vol. 18. New York: Haworth.

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              Multiple articles for faculty in pre-course or curriculum design phases and looking for teaching pedagogy, including one around creating a shared culture and another advocating for a “Virtual Classroom Pedagogy Strategy,” which addresses how to incorporate GIS. Faculty already teaching will benefit from learning about strategies like e-mail technology and integrating discussion forums.

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              • Raymond, F., L. Ginsberg, and D. Gohagan. 1998. Information technologies: Teaching to use—using to teach. New York: Haworth.

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                Although from 1998, the emphasis on how faculty and student technology perceptions impact technology adoption and utilization is still applicable. There are specifics provided like “Computer Attitude Scale,” MicroCase, and Paraphrase, which might not still be in existence; however, they can provide insight on what might be comparable in the early 21st century.

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                • Regan, J. A. R. C., and P. P. Freddolino. 2008. Integrating technology into the social work curriculum. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education.

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                  Ideal for faculty who would like to understand best practices on how to integrate synchronous and asynchronous technology into human behavior in the social environment (HBSE), research, policy, clinical/macro practice, and field courses. Chapters provide specific discussion points, resources, and additional readings for practical application in a variety of classroom environments. The authors are thorough in exploring existing and emerging technology tools and ethical/confidential concerns along with benefits and challenges of specific technology.

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                  • Taylor, I., M. Bogo, M. Lefevre, and B. Teater, eds. 2016. Routledge international handbook of social work education. Abingdon, UK, and New York: Routledge.

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                    Taylor and colleagues combine contributors’ predictions on the future of multicultural, macro, ethical, etc., social work. Although the entire book is not focused on technology, there are three chapters which are specific to technology in social work education; two focus on teaching strategies including simulation and integrating social media and one is an overall evaluation of “web-based” social work education.

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                    • Vigilante, F. W., R. L. Beaulaurier, and M. F. Haffey. 2016. Technology in social work education and curriculum: The high tech, high touch social work educator. London and New York: Routledge.

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                      Part 1explores innovative uses of technology like WebCT, video conferencing, Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data AnalysiS (CAQDAS), electronic advocacy, and discussion boards with social work courses (field seminar, group, social welfare, policy) and includes teaching/course design approaches (constructivist, FEASP [Fear, Envy, Anger, Sympathy, Pleasure] Model, emotionally sound instruction). Part 2 explores how to integrate technology into traditional campus-based classrooms including video simulation and asynchronous learning networks. Part 3 looks at concepts to consider prior to implementation: agency demand/need, student anxiety around tech, etc.

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                      Journals General Overview

                      There is no one specific journal that has a primary focus on the integration of technology in social work education. Rather, there are multiple journals publishing research on the application of technology and its implications as well as reflections from the field on a fairly regular basis. These journals include, but are not limited to, the Journal of Social Work Education, Journal of Teaching in Social Work, Journal of Technology in Human Services, Social Work Education, and Advances in Social Work. Other journals included in this review consider distance learning or the application of technology to education; however, they may not be specific to the field of social work. These include the Journal of Computers in Education, the American Journal of Distance Education, and Quarterly Review of Distance Education.

                      • Advances in Social Work. 2000–.

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                        This journal is not dedicated to technology adoption, however, a search in the past ten years yields approximately 100 articles from well-known practitioners, researchers and academics who are at the intersection of technology and social work. Topic range from social media, online courses, gaming, and is specific to graduate level social work courses.

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                        • American Journal of Distance Education. 1987–.

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                          Focus is on all aspects of distance education (DE) such as creating and implementing course content, improving access, and connecting to school culture. This journal acknowledges the unique DE experiences for faculty and students and shares research and programmatic solutions which address student success and institutional inefficiencies. The focus is on present-day integrations (2017) such as blended learning, Internet technologies, and asynchronous creation.

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                          • Journal of Computers in Education. 2014–.

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                            This interdisciplinary journal emphasizes information and communication technology (ICT) in learning and education environments and incorporates five main categories: research projects in ICT, shifts in teaching pedagogy, instructional design, learning management systems, and comparable publications.

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                            • Journal of Social Work Education. 1985–.

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                              Originally called Journal of Education for Social Work (1900–1984). This professional journal accepts articles which explore social work and social welfare education at all levels. While the journal does not specifically focus on the technology integrated into social work, a search in its online data set using “social work” and “technology” provides a list of 170 articles from 2007 to 2017. The results covered distance and blended education, social media, cyber counseling, etc.

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                              • Journal of Teaching in Social Work. 1987–.

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                                This journal informs social work faculty how to enhance their ability to execute quality concepts in the classroom. While the journal does not specifically focus on social work, a search in its online data set using “social work” and “technology” provides a list of 131 articles from 2007 to 2017. The results covered technology acceptance, accessibility, to leadership in virtual programming, etc.

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                                • Journal of Technology in Human Services. 1999–.

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                                  Originally called Computers in Human Services (1985–1999), this journal highlights the intersection between ICT and human service agencies. Content is not specific to social work curriculum; however, provides insight into what technology is being used or considered in human services agencies. A search using “technology” yielded 274 results from 2007 to 2010 and covered smartphone technology, hesitation on implementing “innovative” ideas, telecare, etc.

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                                  • Quarterly Review of Distance Education. 2000–.

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                                    Information Age Publishing is a social science publisher based in Geneva, Switzerland with an emphasis on education and technology as individual concepts. As a result, they publish the Quarterly Review of Distance Education, which can be applicable to higher education curriculum design and implementation; however, articles appearing in the journal might not necessarily be written from the perspective of social work.

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                                    • Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning. 2006–.

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                                      No longer in publication, however, journal created dialogue around how to integrate technology into specific courses while improving the creation and implementation of learning platforms. This journal is not specific to higher education or social work courses; however, it would be an excellent source if one wanted to find information on how other sectors such as business or government integrate technology to analyze and apply concepts to social work courses.

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                                      • Social Work Education: The International Journal. 1981–.

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                                        This journal contributes to the development of educational theory as it pertains to social work. While the journal does not intend to focus on distance learning or technology integration as a whole, a search in its online data base using “social work” and “technology” provides a list of 233 articles from 2007 to 2017.

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                                        Specialized Organizations General Overview

                                        Organizations included can be designated into two categories. The first consists of social work professional organizations like National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), which among other things work toward defining the role of social work educators in the creation, implementation, and monitoring of technology. The other category of organizations are focused on technology and distance learning (not social work); this category includes organizations like International Society for Technology in Education, Online Learning Consortium, South Carolina Association for Educational Technology, and Quality Matters, whose strategies can easily be applied to social work. Their focus can support faculty or staff who utilize technology to deliver curriculum, and provide resources for best practice.

                                        • Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

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                                          CSWE is an accrediting body which formulates social work skill-based competencies for bachelor and graduate institutions. Outcomes are created by CSWE staff, working groups, and conference workshops and are intended to support social work educators. The topic of technology can be found primarily through Competency 1: Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior. Technology is also described in CSWE’s recently published The Standards in Technology for Social Work Practice in partnership with other professional associations.

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                                          • International Society for Technology in Education.

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                                            An organization which created educational standards for “teaching in the digital age” not specific to social work or higher education; however, it states that the standards can be applied to higher education.

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                                            • Magna Publications.

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                                              Hosts conference on Teaching with Technology and also disseminates information on best practices to evaluate online education, to support faculty professional development, and to increase leadership skills.

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                                              • National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

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                                                Organization for US social workers which provides continuing education opportunities and develops policy and standards. NASW has a joint publication, The Standards in Technology for Social Work Practice, which provides general guidelines on the intersectionality of social workers use and integration of technology with an ethical lens. In 2017, NASW updated their code of ethics; the majority of the updates revolved around the professional use and integration of technology.

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                                                • Online Learning Consortium.

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                                                  Global online resource which is committed to excellence in online education through the creation of best practices, hosting in-person events and conferences, and evaluating the quality of online programming. The Consortium is not specific to social work; however, the topics are transferable.

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                                                  • Quality Matters.

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                                                    An international nonprofit organization which works toward online course quality assurance models to improve the quality of online educational programs, allow others to utilize a rubric, and identify ways to improve and create consistency.

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                                                    • South Carolina Association for Educational Technology.

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                                                      South Carolina–based nonprofit identifies and supports technologically sound innovations used at any educational level (kindergarten through higher education).Although the emphasis of this organization is not social work and is particular to South Carolina, its top priority is to “promote the innovative, intelligent and responsible use of technology in the enhancement of education,” which can be applicable to social work distance education. The organization also hosts the annual EdTech Conference.

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                                                      Introduction on Areas of Technology Impact

                                                      There is no one way to deliver online social work education. Students have more options than ever to pursue a social work degree, and research indicates that outcomes vary little across education delivery formats. Schools of social work are building and adopting unique fully virtual or hybrid strategies for education delivery that complements traditional ground-based programming. Finally, faculty teaching in the online environment have begun to identify shifts in teaching pedagogy, ways for faculty to connect with each other, and blurring boundaries with work and life balance. Other shifts in perceptions around the quality of online learning are taking place as well. This is understandable, when looking at how a helping profession such as social work rooted in human interaction is now offering distance education (DE) programs including clinical practice courses.

                                                      Educational Outcomes across Delivery

                                                      This section includes journal articles which examine the impact on the type of educational outcomes within social work and looks at the impact on student learning outcomes. Brown and Park 2016 and Wilke, et al. 2016 find few differences with students across education delivery competency outcomes. Calloway-Graham, et al. 2016 explores self-efficacy in group work leadership, and overall grades and GPA scores are compared in Cummings, et al. 2015 and Woehle and Quinn 2009. Overall student satisfaction and the quality of the learning environment across education modalities appear similar to those in traditional learning environments, as discussed in Forgey and Ortega-Williams 2016 and York 2008. There is considerable evidence to support consistency of student competency development and satisfaction across education formats from Wretman and Macy 2016.

                                                      • Brown, J. L. C., and H.-S. Park. 2016. Longitudinal student research competency: Comparing online and traditional face-to-face learning platforms. Advances in Social Work 17.1: 44–58.

                                                        DOI: 10.18060/20870Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        Examines learning outcomes associated with Master of Social Work (MSW) research method courses. A sample of MSW students receiving traditional ground programming is compared to students in an online program. No significant differences found in the acquisition of practice knowledge and research self-efficacy across the two programs over an eighteen-month period. Findings support previous research demonstrating comparable learning outcomes across education delivery formats. Key features include standardized measurements and longitudinal focus.

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                                                        • Calloway-Graham, D., C. J. Sorenson, J. Roark, and J. Lucero. 2016. Technology-enhanced practice courses and collaborative learning in distance education. Journal of Technology in the Human Services 34.3: 285–299.

                                                          DOI: 10.1080/15228835.2016.1219898Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          Examination of a teaching model to develop Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) student competencies in group leadership interaction skills using Interactive Video Conferencing. The fifteen-week model was delivered to students in both a traditional ground-based classroom and DE. Analysis revealed significant student growth in confidence, self-efficacy, and group work leadership skills across both delivery methods. Few differences were found between delivery except for distance students demonstrating significantly higher confidence post-course than ground students.

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                                                          • Cummings, S. M., K. M. Chaffin, and C. Cockerham. 2015. Comparative analysis of an online and traditional MSW program: Educational outcomes. Journal of Social Work Education 51.1: 109–120.

                                                            DOI: 10.1080/10437797.201.977170Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            Comparison of students enrolled in traditional and online MSW program across three tracks: full-time, part-time, and advanced standing. No differences found in learning outcomes across programs or tracks; GPAs were higher for traditional students. However, online students earned higher field competency evaluations, which may be related to previous skills development. Online students, particularly advanced standing online students, report greater satisfaction with their educational program than traditional students.

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                                                            • Dalton, B. 2001. Distance education: A multidimensional evaluation. Journal of Technology in Human Services 18.3–4: 101–115.

                                                              DOI: 10.1300/J017v18n03_07Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              Article compares in-person courses and interactive television (ITV) both taught by the same professor; the latter unique to this research. Comparison was reviewed using student evaluations and course outcomes, which revealed comparable effectiveness for in-person and for ITV.

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                                                              • Forgey, M. A., and A. Ortega-Williams. 2016. Effectively teaching social work practice online: Moving beyond can to how. Advances in Social Work 17.1: 46–64.

                                                                DOI: 10.18060/20877Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                Students enrolled in a Generalist Practice Course delivered both online and in a traditional face-to-face classroom were compared on self-reported rating of the quality of the learning environment, learning outcomes, and satisfaction with the course. No significant differences were found in learning outcomes or quality of the learning environment; however, online students had slightly but significantly higher levels of satisfaction in relation to reflection assignments.

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                                                                • Wilke, D. J., E. King, M. Ashmore, and C. Stanley. 2016. Can clinical skills be taught online? Comparing skill development between online and F2F students using a blinded review. Journal of Social Work Education 52.4: 484–492.

                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/10437797.2016.1215276Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  This article presents findings from a study examining if students attending virtual courses develop the same assessment and intervention skills as students who attend traditional ground programs. Findings indicate that clinical skills developed in online education are comparable to the outcomes for ground students.

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                                                                  • Woehle, R., and A. Quinn. 2009. An experiment comparing HBSE graduate social work classes: Face-to-face and at a distance. Journal of Teaching in Social Work 29.4: 418–430.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/08841230903249745Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    Quasi-experimental comparison of MSW students enrolled in human behavior in the social environment (HBSE) classes delivered via traditional ground or distance environment. The data found no statistically significant differences in grade achievement across class delivery formats. The authors consider sample bias and examine student backgrounds, such as time since baccalaureate degree and baccalaureate GPA, as explanatory factors for student acceptance into one type of program or another and performance.

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                                                                    • Wretman, C. J., and R. J. Macy. 2016. Technology in social work education: A systematic review. Journal of Social Work Education 52.4: 409–421.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/10437797.2016.1198293Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      Systematic review of thirty-eight research publications focused on technology use in social work education delivery. The publication dates ranged from 1997 to 2011. Results support the hypothesis that technology-based education methods produce academic-related outcomes on par with those achieved by traditional, classroom-based methods. The authors note small sample sizes and methodological concerns, concluding that future research studies on this topic employ experimental designs, standardized measurements, and sample sizes large enough for hypothesis testing.

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                                                                      • York, R. O. 2008. Comparing three modes of instruction in a graduate social work program. Journal of Social Work Education 44.2: 157–172.

                                                                        DOI: 10.5175/JSWE.2008.200700031Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        Educational outcomes comparison of students enrolled in a social work administration course delivered via three formats: traditional, online, or hybrid. No significant differences between groups were identified for knowledge gain, self-efficacy, or satisfaction; however, students enrolled in the hybrid program earned grades lower than students enrolled in the other two formats. No statistical differences were found in grades between online and traditional students. Provides additional evidence of comparability across education delivery formats.

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                                                                        Faculty Experience in DE

                                                                        This section considers the experiences of faculty teaching in virtual social work education. The research summarized identifies the many rewards of online education, such as flexibility in Huang and Hsiao 2012, and engaging a more diverse student body in Schwartz, et al. 2016. Challenges related to virtual instruction are also identified and include isolation in Dolan 2011 and alienation from coworkers and the larger institution in Smith 2015. Opportunities for faculty to engage academically and professionally are also explored in Bentley, et al. 2015 and Helton 2010 (cited under Instructional Techniques and Strategies for Incorporating Technology in the Classroom).

                                                                        • Bentley, K. J., M. C. Secret, and C. R. Cummings. 2015. The centrality of social presence in online teaching and learning in social work. Journal of Social Work Education 51.3: 494–504.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/10437797.2015.1043199Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          Social presence refers to the extent that people are known and perceived to be authentic in mediated communications. This paper considers the concept of social presence through a theoretical lens in the context of online social work instruction. The authors introduce suggestions for educators seeking to enhance their social presence in online classrooms and promote the initiative Quality Matters for its standards of quality in online education.

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                                                                          • Dolan, V. 2011. The isolation of online adjunct faculty and its impact on their performance. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 12.2: 62–77.

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                                                                            Qualitative inquiry into twenty-eight adjunct faculty working for the same university illuminated that adjuncts frequently feel disconnected from the larger educational institution and colleagues and that this isolation affects job satisfaction, retention, and performance. This was particularly the case for adjunct faculty teaching in the online program. The authors present suggestions for facilitating connection between virtual online instructors and their schools.

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                                                                            • Huang, X. S., and E. L. Hsiao. 2012. Synchronous and asynchronous communication in an online environment: Faculty experiences and perceptions. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education 13.1: 15–30.

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                                                                              This paper examines online instructor experiences and perceptions of online education and relationships with virtual students. Qualitative data retrieved from sixteen instructors in different online programs associated with one university revealed largely positive attitudes toward online instruction, particularly in relation to flexibility, convenience, and student diversity. Identified challenges include heavier workloads and communication barriers. Recommendations for overcoming these barriers are presented.

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                                                                              • Schwartz, S. L., J. L. Wiley, and C. D. Kaplan. 2016. Community building in a virtual teaching environment. Advances in Social Work 17.1: 15–30.

                                                                                DOI: 10.18060/20875Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                A qualitative inquiry of twenty-five faculty of different ranks employed in a fully virtual MSW program revealed multiple strengths and challenges associated with geographic diversity and community building in virtual education environments. While instructors valued the geographic diversity students brought to the classroom, this type of diversity presented challenges with developing relationships and collaborations with colleagues as well as feeling connected to the larger institution.

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                                                                                • Smith, W. 2015. Relational dimensions of virtual social work education: Mentoring faculty in a web-based learning environment. Clinical Social Work Journal 43:236–245.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1007/s10615-014-0510-5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  This paper examines the relational dimensions of teaching in a fully virtual MSW program that is national and international in scope. The author introduces challenges faced by virtual faculty in developing a professional identity, building teaching confidence and expertise, forming relationships, and both receiving and delivering mentorship in a virtual space. Suggestions to address these challenges and implications for online social work education are considered.

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                                                                                  Student Experience in DE

                                                                                  The online social work student experience has been widely explored, with Madoc-Jones and Parrott 2007 finding that students are largely satisfied with their virtual education experiences; but students also report a sense of isolation from their student colleagues, professors, and university in Rovai and Wighting 2005. Douville 2013 suggests that student learning communities can enhance academic outcomes; and opportunities for student mentorship are needed according to Jensen 2017. Jones 2015 and Quinn, et al. 2011 explore the multiple and complex factors contributing to student outcomes.

                                                                                  • Douville, M. L. 2013. The effectiveness of mutual aid learning communities in online MSW practice courses. Journal of Teaching in Social Work 33:15–25.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/08841233.2012.748711Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    This paper examines the effects of intentional learning communities designed to support students enrolled in an online MSW direct practice course. Findings suggest that students who participated in the learning communities had significantly better course grades than those who did not; however, there were no differences in course satisfaction between the groups. This research supports the connection between student learning communities and learning outcomes.

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                                                                                    • Jensen, D. 2017. Mentoring in a distributed learning social work program. Journal of Social Work Education 53.4: 637–650.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/104337797.2017.1287026Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      This paper examines the role of mentoring in social work education and evaluates an academic mentoring program for distance learning students enrolled in one school of social work’s BSW and MSW program. Findings suggest that students living in rural communities, particularly younger students, need more opportunities for mentorship. The author identifies several ways to engage clients and community partners in leadership activities for continued research and program improvement.

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                                                                                      • Jones, S. H. 2015. Benefits and challenges of online education for clinical social work: Three examples. Clinical Social Work Journal 43:225–235.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1007/s10615-014-0508-zSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Examines three fully online courses offered by the author to clinical social work students. The courses were considered in the context of the benefits and challenges of online education that are identified in existing literature to include: student access, curriculum quality, interpersonal interaction, skill development, use of technology, gatekeeping, and resources. Emphasizes a need for quality standards across online social work programs.

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                                                                                        • Madoc-Jones, I., and L. Parrott. 2007. Virtual social work education: Theory and experience. Social Work Education: The International Journal 24.7: 755–768.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/02615470500238678Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          This paper presents an analysis of student experiences with online social work learning environments. The authors inform that DE presents opportunities for greater access to a diverse range of students and that e-learning can produce student-centered learning practices that reflect consensus on effective education and professional practices. The authors assert that while satisfaction and positive learning outcomes are present in online education, the process can be isolating for students.

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                                                                                          • Quinn, A., D. Fitch, and E. Youn. 2011. Considering construct validity in distance educational research in social work education: Suggestions for a multivariate approach to researching efficacy. Journal of Social Work Education 47.2: 321–336.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.5175/JSWE.2011.200900123Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            This paper proposes that the efficacy of online social work education should be understood as a combination of four constructs: the student, the setting where the student receives education, the content provided, and the expected educational outcomes. The authors suggest that without considering all four of these aspects and their interactions, research on student outcomes and experiences in DE is limited in its scope.

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                                                                                            • Rovai, A. P., and M. J. Wighting. 2005. Feelings of alienation and community among higher education students in a virtual classroom. The Internet and Higher Education 8:97–110.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2005.03.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              Research is presented investigating feelings of isolation and disconnection in a sample of higher education students enrolled in online courses. The study references previous research suggesting isolation as a predictor of attrition. Findings reinforce suggestions that online programs should be structured to facilitate student feelings of belonging and connection to increase engagement. The role virtual faculty play in fostering a sense of community in the classroom is considered.

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                                                                                              • Secret, M., K. J. Bentley, and J. C. Kadolph. 2016. Student voices speak quality assurance: Continual improvement in online social work education. Journal of Social Work Education 52.1: 30–42.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/10437797.2016.1112630Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                This paper presents findings from a “Voices of Students’ project that collected qualitative data on the experiences of ninety-six MSW students enrolled in an online two-course HBSE sequence. The authors utilized quality assurance standards for analysis along with student feedback. Data analysis resulted in the identification of seven themes that can be conceptualized as student-generated keys to online learning.

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                                                                                                • Stotzer, R. 2012. Serving rural communities with distance education degree programs. Journal of Technology in Human Services 30.2: 109–117.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/15228835.2012.699510Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Considers DE as a way to address the lack of social work professionals in rural areas. The study compares outcomes of alumni of the University of Hawai‘i’s campus-based program, the Hilo traveling program (on weekends), and the technology-based program. The technology-based program had comparatively low attrition and the majority of alum were living and working as social workers in the rural communities where they had lived during their MSW program.

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                                                                                                  Challenges for Using Technology in the Classroom

                                                                                                  This section considers challenges experienced by educators who incorporate technology into their classrooms. Horvath and Mills 2011 discusses challenges instructors face in learning how to use technology and adapt teaching. Levin, et al. 2013 echoes challenges with technology adoption and addresses issues with student engagement and decorum in synchronous classes. The authors of Larsen, et al. 2008 reflect similar challenges in their work and suggest that a set of competencies be established to guide the application of technology to social work education. Reamer 2013 and Tandy and Meacham 2009 consider the ethics of technology in social work education, suggesting that while technology increases access for students with disabilities it can also create new barriers for these individuals. Fang, et al. 2014 considers the ethics of using social media in social work education and how these new platforms can conflict with professional social work ethics.

                                                                                                  • Fang, L., F. Mishna, V. F. Zhang, M. Van Wert, and M. Bogo. 2014. Social media and social work education: Understanding and dealing with the new digital world. Social Work in Health Care 53.9: 800–814.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/00981389.2014.943455Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    The authors balance the learning benefits of incorporating social media platforms into the classroom with the challenges faced by social work educators governed by a professional code of ethics. Three case studies illustrating ethical and pedagogical issues involving social media are introduced and discussed. The paper concludes with recommendations for the social work profession to establish workgroups to develop guidelines on use of social media in social work education.

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                                                                                                    • Horvath, V. E., and C. S. Mills. 2011. The challenges for faculty using interactive television in distance education. Journal of Technology in the Human Services 29.1: 33–48.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/15228835.2011.568678Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Examines the history of the use of ITV and DE delivery models in MSW programs. The paper considers existing research on both ITV and DE, detailing the strengths and challenges associated with this form of education delivery. The authors recognize the challenges facing faculty and the adjustment that they make navigating the inclusion of technological equipment into their classrooms. Recommendations for the future are provided.

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                                                                                                      • Larsen, A. K., R. Sanders, A. A. Astray, and G. O. Hole. 2008. E-teacher challenges and competencies in international comparative social work courses. Social Work Education 27.6: 623–633.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/02615470802201671Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        Examines the experiences of faculty participating in an international online social work education project called VIRCLASS. Two identified faculty challenges centered on building an engaged community of students and managing the time commitments associated with online learning. The authors introduce a set of four faculty competencies for creating effective virtual learning environments: Facilitating a Collaborative, Task-Centered Approach; Developing ICT Competencies; Supervision and Coaching; and Collaborative Teamwork.

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                                                                                                        • Levin, S., D. Whitsett, and G. Wood. 2013. Teaching MSW social work practice in a blended online learning environment. Journal of Teaching in Social Work 33.4–5: 408–420.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/08841233.2013.829168Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          Presents reflections of instructional faculty teaching a foundation-year practice course in a blended online environment using both asynchronous and synchronous activities. In addition to strengths associated with online teaching, the faculty identified several important areas for consideration. Challenges faced included technological glitches, unanticipated issues around student decorum and etiquette in the online classroom, ethical issues, and limited ability to read nonverbal cues.

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                                                                                                          • Rafferty, J. 1999. Changing to learn: Learning to change. Computers in Human Services 15.2–3: 159–169.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1300/J407v15n02_12Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Explores the impact of information and communication technology (ICT) in social work education in the United Kingdom. Describes factors influencing higher education, like a technology “champion,” which could be useful for other countries.

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                                                                                                            • Reamer, F. G. 2013. Distance and online social work education: Novel ethical challenges. Journal of Teaching in Social Work 33:369–384.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/08841233.2013.828669Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              Reamer examines the integration of technology into social work education and identifies several ethical concerns for consideration. Student access is one such concern, suggesting that online education may challenge students with unique learning needs. Course and degree quality and integrity, gatekeeping and academic honesty, and privacy and surveillance comprise the other identified concerns. Reamer calls for the profession to acknowledge these challenges and develop safeguards to reduce their potential impact.

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                                                                                                              • Tandy, C., and M. Meacham. 2009. Removing the barriers for students with disabilities: Accessible online and web-enhanced courses. Journal of Teaching in Social Work 29:313–328.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/08841230903022118Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                While online education creates opportunities for many individuals with disabilities to earn degrees, the authors assert that it has simultaneously created new barriers for students with disabilities. For example, barriers could include different learning abilities or visual challenges that may not be as visible online versus a ground program. The authors propose the establishment of universal guidelines for course development to help instructors troubleshoot these barriers.

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                                                                                                                Instructional Techniques and Strategies for Incorporating Technology in the Classroom

                                                                                                                Human beings use technology such as e-mail, cell phones, and driving directions in their personal lives every day. The strategy to utilize similar technology or skills in the classroom with social work students is a transition which has been slow moving. The articles in this section provide examples of how faculty can approach technology at various levels. Prior to implementation, Frey and Faul 2005 offers a marketing approach for faculty to consider when making the transition from traditional on-the-ground teaching to web based. In the classroom, Hitchcock and Young 2016 discusses utilizing Twitter, and Sage 2014 describes how blogs have been used to monitor an intervention. Other techniques include blended activities in Levin, et al. 2013; a flipped classroom in Holmes, et al. 2015; and utilizing geographically dispersed speakers in asynchronous content in Sage 2013. Helton 2010 looks at the different learning styles of students based on their geographical location and how that impacts learning. Beaulaurier 2005 suggests a model for “computerization” which can be generalized at the course level.

                                                                                                                • Beaulaurier, R. L. 2005. Integrating computer content into social work curricula: A model for planning. Journal of Teaching in Social Work 25.1–2: 153–171.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1300/J067v25n01_10Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  Article operationalizes a model for schools of social work to use to “computerize” their programs through four phases: Assessment, Planning, Implementation, and Maintenance. Although this model is applied at an institutional level, it is applicable to faculty looking at individual courses as well.

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                                                                                                                  • Frey, A. J., and A. C. Faul. 2005. The transition from traditional teaching to web-assisted technology. Journal of Teaching in Social Work 25.1–2: 91–101.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1300/J067v25n01_06Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    The authors suggest a marketing approach to working in a high-tech classroom. Students who are not used to high-technology classrooms will need a lot of support up front or in the beginning of the semester to acclimate; however, as the technology is embraced the strategy changes. Faculty can use this strategy when launching new technology in the classroom or online programs.

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                                                                                                                    • Helton, L. R. 2010. Faculty perceptions of differences between teaching rural Appalachian and urban social work students. Contemporary Rural Social Work 2:66–74.

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                                                                                                                      The paper explores the perceptions of social work faculty who have taught students both from rural Appalachian and from urban areas. Topics addressed include differences in student learning styles and speech patterns, differences in teaching techniques used, and suggestions for teaching social work to Appalachian students. While this paper does not directly address virtual classrooms, findings can be applied to instructors teaching a geographically diverse student body.

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                                                                                                                      • Hitchcock, L. I., and J. A. Young. 2016. Tweet! Tweet!: Using live Twitter chats in social work education. Social Work Education 35.4: 457–468.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/02615479.2015.1136273Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        Evaluation of the use of Twitter, a microblogging platform, in social work education as a tool for learning and networking. The authors developed an assignment requiring students to use Twitter to enhance learning of course content while improving media literacy. Results were positive, demonstrating student satisfaction, social work knowledge development, engagement with others on Twitter, the use of critical thinking skills in live chats, and revised opinions about Twitter.

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                                                                                                                        • Holmes, M. R., E. M. Tracy, L. L. Painter, T. Oestreich, and H. Park. 2015. Moving from flipcharts to flipped classrooms: Using technology driven teaching methods to promote active learning in foundation and advanced Masters Social Work courses. Clinical Social Work Journal 43.2: 215–224.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1007/s10615–015–0521-xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Details how social work education is using an array of different technologies to transform teaching and learning experiences. Provides examples of hardware and software solutions that one school of social work used to remodel two courses. The authors provide a detailed explanation of the incorporation of Google products into courses to promote collaborative work among students, identifying the advantages and challenges associated with using Google apps in social work education.

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                                                                                                                          • Levin, S., D. Whitsett, and G. Wood. 2013. Teaching MSW social work practice in a blended online learning environment. Journal of Teaching in Social Work 33.4–5: 408–420.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/08841233.2013.829168Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            Reflections of instructional faculty teaching a foundation-year practice course in a blended online environment using both asynchronous and synchronous activities. The authors recognize that online teaching requires different skills and strategies than teaching in a campus setting. Faculty relate that forming relationships with online students takes longer, but are perceived as stronger. Recommendations for success include modifying classroom exercises to accommodate virtual platform and using creative strategies to facilitate student engagement.

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                                                                                                                            • MacFadden, R. J., M. A. Herie, S. Maiter, and G. Dumbrill. 2005. Achieving high touch in high tech: A constructivist, emotionally-oriented model of web-based instruction. Journal of Teaching in Social Work 25.1–2: 21–44.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1300/J067v25n01_02Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              Authors call on faculty and course designers to pay attention to the emotional needs of students in implementing web-based instruction utilizing the FEASP (Fear, Envy, Anger, Sympathy, Pleasure) and Emotions and Paradigmatic Model.

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                                                                                                                              • Martin, J. 2017. Virtual worlds and social work education. Australian Social Work 70.2: 197–208.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/031240X.2016.1238953Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                The use of Second Life, a three-dimensional social world, as a tool to help on-ground undergraduate social work students develop competencies in mental health practice was evaluated to not enhance the learning experiences of developing interpersonal learning skills. The authors suggest that this may be related to lack of familiarity with online learning and that the tool may be more beneficial for students in distance education.

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                                                                                                                                • Sage, M. 2013. Distance guest speakers in online synchronous classrooms: Practical and legal considerations. Journal of Teaching in Social Work 33.4–5: 385–392.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/08841233.2013.831802Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  Given the flexibility of distance education, guest lecturers no longer have to be local to a university. This opens opportunities to enhance student learning experiences by inviting geographically distant experts to provide lectures. Sage presents an illustrative example of hosting a guest lecturer during an asynchronous social work course and suggests best practices for preparing students and guests as well as considering ethical and legal guidelines for recording guest speakers.

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                                                                                                                                  • Sage, M. 2014. Use of Web 2.0 to train facilitators in fidelity: A case study. Journal of Technology in Human Services 32:108–118.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/15228835.2014.886982Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    This study explores the use of Web 2.0 social media tools, specifically a blog, to support the fidelity of a federally funded practice-based child welfare intervention across a large geographic region. Given the importance of treatment fidelity to support Evidence Based Interventions (EBP), this is a novel way to monitor interventions. The blog proved successful as a living manual for intervention and allowed for consistency of communication and training across intervention sites.

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