Engaging Students in Online Learning #2014APM

UPDATE: Thanks to those of you who came to the session and if you missed it, no worries. Much of the information is below along with this link to Dr. Melanie Sage’s handout.

 

The Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting takes place this weekend (October 23- 26) in Tampa, Florida. I am fortunate enough to be involved in three different presentations and hope to see many people in attendance, please say hello if you attend.

This post is largely to serve as a placeholder for a panel discussion I am part of entitled “Engaging Students in Online Learning.” I, along with Andrew Quinn and Melanie Sage from University of North Dakota and Dale Fitch from University of Missouri will be discussing this topic.

Here is our abstract for more information.

Although online social work programs and courses are growing, many critiques exist relative to online social work offerings. Critiques often are focused on the ability to engage and assess students in the absence of physical presence . Although research related to learning outcomes often demonstrate no differences dependent on whether the course is offered online or in person (cite), the online environment requires a change in teaching methodology, perhaps especially related to strategies for maintaining active student engagement.

Student engagement in online environments has unique characteristics that set it apart from the face-to-face classroom. Traditional methods such as ice breakers or arranging the desks in certain configurations present challenges in the virtual environment. Other methods such as using our bodily presence to greet students with a handshake are simply not possible. Nevertheless, there are still numerous techniques an instructor can employ in order to effect engagement with students in the online synchronous and asynchronous classroom.

During this online panel, three educators who have expertise in teaching online share the techniques that they use for engaging students.   Each will present engagement strategies that have been found effective based upon their course evaluations and student feedback. The panelists will offer strategies for using course management tools, role-play, break-out groups, conversational discussion, and the virtual world to simulate and accentuate the types of engagement that occur in an in-person classroom.

The first panelist will address engagement by examining classroom authority, using Course Management Software (CMS) such as groups to manage discussion board logistics, building assignments around problem-solving projects, the use of audio and video files by both the instructor and students for presentations, the use of automated course participation reports, matching communication strategies, i.e., lecture, announcements, discussion boards, emails, with the communicative intent, and, most importantly, methods to provide technical support for students who may not be tech savvy.

Media LiteracyThe second panelist will address challenges in providing a rich and engaging learning environment to help students expand their knowledge and develop critical thinking skills while maintaining quality education. Strategies include using social media, course management systems, mobile technologies such as smartphones and tablets to engage students in the learning process. He will discuss pedagogical principles of course design and how he has made choices in determining what methods will help to meet the course objectives (Youn, 2007; Vernon et al., 2009). One method that will be offered in discussion involves using collaborative learning groups and creating an overall learning community that encourages participation and creates social presence online so that students do not feel disconnected.

The third panelist will focus on strategies for engaging students in online clinical courses. Clinical courses taught online are especially vulnerable to critique (Ayala, 2009; Coe Regan & Youn, 2008; Reamer, 2013), although research on distance education in clinical social work courses (Cummings, Foels, & Chaffin, 2013) supports the “no significant difference” hypothesis in which learning outcomes are the same between online and in-person courses. This panelist will describe the ways in which she adapted commonly used classroom strategies such as role play, break-out sessions, guest speakers, discussion design, as well as Web 2.0 technologies such as the use of avatars (McBrien, Cheng, & Jones, 2009; Rockinson-Szapkiw & Walker, 2009; Sage, 2013; Wilson, Brown, Wood, & Farkas, 2013).


 

As I mentioned above, I wanted to provide a place where attendees can access the information I am discussing. Truth is, you can never rely on conference technology and since I’m not exactly sure how this panel will proceed, I like the idea of giving something for individuals to take away, which will ultimately bring them here, to this post. Here is what I plan to (or did) share during the panel.

Engaging students online in a quality way where they are gaining knowledge and developing skills requires a lot of time and energy. I strive to create a learning community high in social presence with good structure to help keep students on task, engaged, and focused on learning. First, I think course design is very important! I use the course learning management system, which is Blackboard at my institution, and use the available tools as much as possible because I know that students are pretty familiar with this platform because of other classes.

Organization is crucial. A layout that is intuitive helps students find information they need. I also do simple things with due dates by including the Due Date in the Heading of the section or areas where we talk about the Assignment.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 11.16.28 AMThis way students have had this come to their attention at multiple places throughout the platform. I also provide my syllabus in a Word Document and in PDF format in an area where they can expect to learn about the expectations and policies of the course.

I use video extensively in my online courses to help instruct, model, and create social presence. Social presence is extremely important to help students feel connected and engaged in their learning. “Essentially, social presence supports the notion that students see the faculty (and each other) as real people in their online class.” Within the course LMS, I have a welcome video, an introduction video that takes students through the various aspects of the course. I also have other videos explaining assignments and I often post summary videos to provide feedback after the learning unit is finished.

One fun way to help create social presence and get students to interact with each other is with an online ice breaker. There are different ways of doing this from using a Wikipage to share photos of who you are, what you are interested in, or what you think defines you. I have done a more interactive version of this by having students make videos to share this information.

Along with video I use social media to help students obtain new media literacy and enhance their critical thinking skills.

imgres

Learning is a social endeavor. The online environment does not have to create silos where students are left alone. Instead we can use technology to learn together. Using social media is probably the best part of my social media course (more on this course here), that is helping students recognize that all their tweeting, facebooking, and social networking has practical significance for their future. Also helping them to realize that they can use social media for research and to help them gain knew knowledge and skills through collaboration.

One way I do this is through a Social Bookmarking assignment using Pinterest. I create a Private Board and invite all the students to “Pin” Infographics, websites, videos, and other information they find on the web to this board as long as the information relates to the course.

LEGO-infographicEffectively I am crowdsourcing the class to find great information I can share in future classes but I am also helping students to realize there is a vast amount of information available online. In this process I teach about the New Media Literacy of Judgement, or Crap Detection and explain that students should not just post random information, but that they first should judge it’s value and also explain how it is valuable.

I use Twitter to extend conversations outside of the class. I often show video documentaries, and in an asynchronous course where students typically complete the assignments by a certain deadline but at almost any time of day or night, this means students can still participate with their peers or myself as the instructor. I typically do not tweet after midnight, which my students understand as I discuss course policies and expectations in the beginning, but I do respond to them the next day. I have a course hashtag #SOWK388 that students use to tweet their thoughts and reactions to the documentaries and other course content (more on tweeting with documentaries here). I provide specifics about participation and expectations on how to Tweet and engage with others using the hashtag. I will often ask follow up questions on Twitter to get students to think deeper about an issue related to the content in the course.

Another important part of engaging students in my online courses is the use of Collaborative Learning Groups or CLG’s.

Collaborative Learning Groups allow students to work together to

  • Gather resources
  • Problem solve questions
  • Process and explore ideas
  • Develop and implement group projects
  • Complete course assignments

The Theoretical foundation of CLG’s is informed by Dewey:

  • Learning is achieved within a social context
  • Learning results from conceptual change in the mind of the learner
  • New knowledge is based on preceding knowledge
  • Student is at the center of the learning experience
  • Learning occurs within authentic, real-world learning tasks

Collaborative Learning Groups help students interact in the online space, collaborate, problem solve, and provide a way for myself to manage grading because with 35 to 50 students in an online class, grading 50- 10 minute videos can be an extremely daunting task and I would still like to have a summer :) But it really is more than that, it is recognizing that on a theoretical level, using CLG’s supports learning in a social context, which is what using social media is all about. The CLG’s allow students to process and explore ideas in the pursuit and development of their Capstone Projects for the class. As part of the CLG, students also develop technical skills that are more implicit. This happens by learning new technologies that help them to collaborate such as using GoogleDocs, Wiki’s, Hangouts, and other social technologies that allow them to accomplish tasks online without meeting Face to Face. This also supports one of the course objectives, specifically developing New Media Literacies.  The big question is, How is this done?

Each group is free to choose the technologies they want to use to accomplish the assignment. The assignment is to create an advocacy or awareness campaign using social media for a specific cause and or nonprofit organization. The students are required to write a paper, per the general studies course requirements, but then they use this information as the foundation for their presentation. The presentation is around 10 minutes and students are to include visual content that helps to provide some background on the cause or organization, supporting literature, and then identify a strategy for using social media to raise awareness. I provide the students with the basic tools that are available in Blackboard but encourage them to use tools outside of the course LMS to help them complete the project. Many students have used tools such as YouTube, VoiceThread, or even Powerpoint and a combination of visual mediums to present their final project. During the presentation, students are encouraged to share a worked example of how they see the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of their social media strategy. This includes discussing social media platforms, methods of sharing information (such as through Infographics), methods of getting others involved to support the cause, and how they would determine the success of their strategy.

Here are some screen shots from a presentation completed by students.

The Issue About Save the Children Transparency using social media Raiseing awareness at unk Take Action

 

The feedback from students has been overwhelmingly positive with many indicating that it feels good to be learning about a topic that directly relates to their life. Students also expressed frustrations with learning new tools and collaborating online, which requires more time management and organizational skills.

I have enjoyed this class immensely and although I understand some of the frustrations I think this represents how much of the professional world is being shaped today. Professionals are increasingly working in teams, collaborating on cases, and using technology to augment everything they do in practice. I will continue to work on this class, the delivery, and the assignments as new tools and methods evolve. For instance, to help with social presence in my next online class I am going to use an iMovie trailer to welcome the students in a fun and engaging way. Once it’s finished I will be sure to share it here on my blog. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Social Media, Digital Activism, and eCitizenship

Cyber-activismTwo years ago I developed a new General Studies course for the University entitled “Social Media, Digital Activism, and eCitizenship.” I have been teaching this course online and face to face for several semesters now and I thought I would share with others how I conceived of this class and how it has been evolving as I continue to teach it. I think some things work great and other things not so great.

From my syllabus it states:

The purpose of this course is to examine the role of social media in the human service and nonprofit sector and how to utilize social media for a variety of purposes. The course will identify what social media is and how it can be used for marketing, communications, and advocacy within human services in addition to how social media promotes civic engagement. Students will learn about participatory culture and new media literacies through the discovery of social media platforms as well as how to apply this knowledge, which promotes critical thinking skills, encourages collaborative problem solving, and acknowledges the role of social media in forming networks and affiliations that can strengthen civic engagement. The Capstone project enables students to employ social media to creatively design, organize, and evaluate an integrated strategy that promotes an organization, critical issue, or assists with marketing and communications.

Students are required to complete a Capstone project that requires them to evaluate information from more than one academic discipline, formulate logical connections between disciplines as they relate to the topic, employ the approach of more than one academic discipline in completing the project, synthesize knowledge related to the topic, and communicate effectively in the medium chosen for the capstone project. This is achieved by focusing on marketing and promoting as well as on advocacy or activism. The learning units and assignments are contextualized around the nonprofit sector and more specifically human service organizations.

There are four learning units:

  1. What is social media?
  2. Marketing & Communications in Human Services & the Nonprofit Sector
  3. Advocacy & Digital Activism
  4. Developing an Integrated Strategy

The funnest thing about this course is that because it’s a general studies course I often have a diverse array of majors. Many students have stated on the teaching evaluations that when they first enrolled in the class they did so to complete the Capstone Requirement and thought they already knew everything about social media because they use it everyday. I initially thought this would be and so I start of the course with a history of social media and try to present a different perspective on social media that many students may not have seen before. It’s fun, engaging, and students are usually surprised to learn they actually don’t know that much about social media. I really enjoy the lecture on identity development and how that identity is portrayed online where users can create an image of themselves that may be less than authentic.

Slacktivist or Activist

Unit two and three dig deeper into social media strategies and methods along with some discussions on appropriate or ethical use of social media and how organizations can use social media more effectively. The final unit brings it all together and I usually show several best practice examples of organizations strategic communications, advertising, or raising awareness using social media. In addition to these units and assignments geared towards social media, when I teach the class face-to-face during the semester I also bring in a focus on New Media Literacies and Participatory Culture. I have blogged about New Media Literacies several times but I always link back to this post. I incorporate the 12 New Media Literacies into class by using several of the skills to help students learn and master the content.

For example, one of the New Media Literacies Skills is Play, or the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem solving. I use games in class to help students get their brain activity up, which can be especially good for early morning classes. Once I have done this then I can move onto focusing on a specific skill, such as Collective Intelligence. This semester I use the Jelly Bean experiment to demonstrate how Collective Intelligence works. If you don’t know what the Jelly Bean experiment is, watch the video below. Collective Intelligence is the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal, much the way Wikipedia works. But I was interested in getting students to engage rather than just simply talk about Wikipedia. Using the video below as inspiration, I grabbed some jelly beans and put them into a jar. During class I asked students to guess how many jelly beans were in the jar. Then I asked them to share a photo of the jar to their various social networks in hopes that we would get a higher response rate. In the end, the experiment didn’t work as well as in the video but students were able to understand the wisdom of the crowd, and it was fun to engage their social networks in the lesson as well.

The not so great things about this class include some of the things I have written about before in regards to having an iPad required course. Specifically, the distraction that can exist because students are seemingly more engaged in their iPads than in the class. Fortunately for me, I am easy going enough that it doesn’t bother me, unless it is clearly distracting at which point I talk to that student. But this is also the reason to have a discussion or policy in the beginning outlining the expectations of the course. I do this every semester and remind students that they are adult learners, responsible for their own education. If they want to waste the class checking Facebook or playing Candy Crush, then they should have no misunderstandings as to why they did not receive the grade they expected. More importantly, I think this motivates or even mandates that I become a more engaging instructor. I try to have interactive lectures and videos that draw the students in from Candy Crush and into my lectures. This doesn’t mean everyone is awe struck by my lectures but at least some students seem very interested :D

Overall, I think this is one of my favorite classes. Not just because I designed it from the ground up or because it is one of my substantive areas of research, but because the topic is extremely relevant. It’s also fun but can be serious when needed. I don’t know exactly where it will go in the future as I have several ideas for improvement, but I recognize that the improvement must take place within the confines of the course requirements. If you have any questions, feel free to email or reach out to me on twitter. I like to keep some of these posts short so I’m sure there is something missing!

 

 

Special #MacroSW Chat October 28th at 8pm CST

UPDATE: This Chat was truly amazing. We hope to do this again as we have had spectacular feedback. If you are interested, you can check out this link to see the Chat archive.

 

The Live Chat questions will include:

  1. What is happening today in terms of distribution of wealth? Why is it happening? What do you see happening and what are the causes?
  2. When do you think inequality becomes a problem?
  3. If the government sets the rules for how the market functions, who do these rules benefit or hurt?
  4. Who is looking out for the American worker? Who do you think should be and what could be done?
  5. After watching the film, do you agree/disagree with the idea of equal opportunity and the American Dream?
  6. What do you think most Americans don’t realize about income Inequality?
  7. What single word best describes how the film made you feel?
  8. What’s next? How do we as social workers address inequality or move forward?

 

Laurel Iverson Hitchcock (@laurelhitchcock) and I (@JimmySW) have designed a social media assignment for social work students that involve students watching a documentary and then participating in a live Twitter chat. The assignment is meant for a policy or macro class and involves students watching the documentary Inequality for Alland then participating in a live Twitter chat on October 28th at 9pm Eastern Standard Time or 8pm CST.  We have partnered with the wonderful folks that conduct the #MacroSW chat for this special event and will be using their hashtag #MacroSW to facilitate the live chat.

We are interested in piloting this assignment in classrooms across the country and hope that other social work or human service educators might participate by including the assignment in class and providing us some feedback. Of course if you would rather just join the Live Chat only, that would be wonderful as we hope to have many individuals participate.

 

 

The assignment includes some critical thinking and reflection components that include brief writing pieces and peer- and self-assessment forms. The purpose of this assignment is to 1) help students learn about policies and societal contexts that influence income inequality, and 2) give students the opportunity to collaborate and communicate with other students and professionals using technology. The assignment consists of three parts:

1)  Students will watch the documentary Inequality for All on their own or in class (it is available on Netflix), and then write a brief reaction to the movie including if they agreed with the film maker’s position (why or why not?) and how the movie informed their understanding of poverty in the U.S. (500-700 words).

2)  Students then participate in a one-hour Live Twitter Chat on October 28th at 9pm EST/ 8pm CST. Questions will be based around the film as well as the overarching topic of Inequality. Students will need a free Twitter account, and will demonstrate participation during the chat by: a) posting responses to at least three of the discussion questions; b) responding to at least three other chat participants; and c) include a hyperlink in at least two posts. If you or your students are new to Twitter, you can use the following guide to help get you started (Getting Started with Twitter) or watch this video on how to participate in a Live Twitter chat.

3)  After the live chat, students will write a self-reflection about the experience of participating in the Live Twitter Chat that includes a brief summary of the chat, lessons learned from the chat and how the experience could inform future social work practice (300-500 words).

Naturally you can assign point values or simply include this as part of the class participation. Should you choose to use it as a traditional assignment, the following Rubric will help you with grading and providing directions for students. The rubric is based upon the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards from CSWE.

 

Criteria Exceeds Expectations Meets Expectations Below Expectations Points
Movie Reaction
Reaction to Movie ReviewEPAS 2.1.3 a – Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments Very clearly constructed and communicated reaction or reflection to the documentary. Insightful, thoughtful, and supported. An adequate reaction is provided including thoughts, insights, questions, concerns or “a-ha”s expressed clearly. Weak reaction or reaction is not justified with thoughts, evidence or personal experience.
Understanding of Poverty in Movie ReviewEPAS 2.1.5 a – Understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination Review provided description of insights related to poverty with clarity, evidence, included examples from the documentary. Sought to explore diverse viewpoints and provide insight into the lives and thoughts of individuals in the film. Review provided some description of insights related to poverty, but only included some evidence from the documentary to support their thoughts. Discussed only one diverse viewpoint. Review provided some description of insights related to poverty, but little or no evidence or examples from the movie were provided to support discussion. Review did not demonstrate cultural sensitivity or attempt to understand diverse viewpoints.
Writing Mechanics in Movie ReviewEPAS 2.1.3 c – Demonstrates effective written communication consistent with professional social work standards. Writes with no errors in grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. Writes with minor errors in grammar, capitalization, punctuation and spelling. Writes with major errors in grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling (3 or more errors).
Live Twitter Chat
Policy Content in TweetsEPAS 2.1.8 b – Analyze policies that advance social well-being. Original tweets consistently provide new resources or ideas about income inequality or poverty that add value to the discussion. Tweets are creatively and succinctly written to stimulate dialogue and commentary. Most original tweets provide new resources or ideas about income inequality or poverty that add value to the discussion. Most tweets are written to stimulate dialogue and commentary. No or a few original tweets provide new resources or ideas about income inequality or poverty that add value to the discussion. No or a few tweets are written to stimulate dialogue and commentary.
Hyperlinks and other resources in TweetsEPAS 2.1.3 b – Synthesize multiple sources of knowledge, including research-based knowledge, and practice wisdom. Tweets include accurate hyperlinks to resources that enhance the topic. Effectively uses tiny URLs as needed to stay within the 140-character limit.   Selects hyperlinks representing the most current resources about the topic. Tweets include hyperlinks to resources relevant to the topic. Uses tiny URLs most of the time to stay within the 140-character limit. Usually selects hyperlinks that represent the most current resources about the topic. Some tweets include hyperlinks, but not all resources are relevant to the topic. Inconsistently uses tiny URLs to stay within the 140-character limit.   Hyperlinks connect to many out-of-date resources.
Writing Mechanics in TweetsEPAS 2.1.3 c – Demonstrates effective written communication consistent with professional social work standards. Writes Tweets with no errors in grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. Writes Tweets with minor errors in grammar, capitalization, punctuation and spelling. Writes Tweets with major errors in grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling (3 or more errors per tweet).
Comments & Contributions in TweetsEPAS 2.1.1 d – Demonstrate professional demeanor in communication. Consistently responds to tweets with positive, respectful, and succinct comments while providing a meaningful addition to the discussion. Re-tweets are appropriate for the assigned discussion topic and always include the source’s Twitter username. Always uses the appropriate hashtag. Creates and sends tweets more frequently than required. Most responses to tweets are positive and respectful while providing a meaningful addition to the discussion. Most re-tweets are appropriate for the assigned discussion topic and include the source’s Twitter username. Consistently uses the hashtag. Creates and sends tweets as often as required. Some responses to tweets are negative and disrespectful and/or provide little value to the discussion. Re-tweets are often inappropriate for the assigned discussion topic and fail to include the source’s Twitter username. Consistently does not include the hashtag. Creates and sends tweets somewhat less often than required.
Self-Reflection
Self-Correction & Self-ReflectionEPAS 2.1.1b – Practice personal reflection and self-correction to assure continue professional development. The reflection demonstrates ability of the student to question their own biases, stereotypes, preconceptions, and/or assumptions and define new modes of thinking as a result. The reflection demonstrates ability of the student to question their own biases, stereotypes, preconceptions. New modes of thinking are not evident. There is some attempt at self-correction, but the self-reflection fails to demonstrate a new awareness of personal biases, etc.
Active LearningEPAS 2.1.1 e – Engage in life-long learning The reflection shows tremendous thought and effort. The learning experience being reflected upon is relevant and meaningful to student and assignment learning objectives. The reflection shows some thought and effort. Student makes attempts to demonstrate relevance, but the relevance is unclear in reference to assignment learning objectives. The reflection showspoor thought and effort. Most of the reflection is irrelevant to student and/or assignment learning objectives.
Writing Mechanics in Self-ReflectionEPAS 2.1.3 c – Demonstrates effective written communication consistent with professional social work standards. Writes with no errors in grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. Writes with minor errors in grammar, capitalization, punctuation and spelling. Writes with major errors in grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling (3 or more errors).

 

Lastly, to help us with improving this assignment we ask that you assess the quality of the Rubric for this assignment by using the following meta-rubric and share it with us.

Jimmy Young

Laurel Iverson Hitchcock

Criteria

What students did on various aspects of the assignment (Tally for each occurrence):

What can be done better next time (change in assignment & directions):

Content Understands what income inequality is and can write a professional opinion about it:Understands how poverty is a form of oppression:Articulated meaningful learning:
Tweets Multiple links and resources used:Respectful language used:Hashtags and user IDs used:
Writing Skills Understandings what a professional reaction is and can write one:Understands what a tweet is and can write one:Understands what a self-reflection is an can write one:

 

Thank you and we look forward to chatting with you via Twitter on October 28th.

History of Social Work

I will be the first to admit that when I was a student in my BSW program I was not the least bit interested in the history of my profession, but now as I look back I realize how foolish I was. Perhaps it has been due to spending time with a friend who is a History Professor or teaching more about the history of the social work profession in my classes but I understand now that history is incredibly important. To that end I want to share a great resource from the folks over at the Simmons School of Social Work and their Blog. They posted some great resources related to the topic of the History of Social Work recently and I think you should check them out. I plan to incorporate some of these into my classes in the future.

 

Water fountain on Washington St., South End

Image Credit: Boston Public Library.

#husITa14 and The Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education, and Social Development

I recognize that the title to this post is rather long and I hope it transfers to Twitter well. I have actually been back in the States for some time and meaning to follow up here in this space about my experiences at this amazing conference.

husITa14 Session

First, Australia.What can I say other than I love Australia and was so happy to be able to return to a country I love. It was great seeing old friends and meeting new acquaintances. I loved being able to taste the food, see the sights, and interact with the people. It was more than fun, it was truly spectacular. If you follow me on Google+ I will try to add some photos later :D

 

The conference was my first international conference and first time presenting at #husITa14 and I must say I completely over-prepared. Ten minutes is not nearly enough time to discuss the topic of New Media Literacies and my specific research.  I simply ran out of time and did not get to discuss my results, which if you were in attendance at the presentation, I’m sorry and hope that this blog will suffice. There is also a post over on the husITa website with my powerpoint slides and abstract.  I have submitted a manuscript for this study to the Journal of Technology in Human Services and with any luck it will be published soon. I just wanted to share quickly what I didn’t get to during the short 10 minutes I had in Melbourne.

Accessing the link above about New Media Literacies (NML) really gives you the context for the study. What I actually did was replicated a study produced by Ioana Literat who is a doctoral student with Henry Jenkins. I wanted to replicate the reliability and validity of the instrument they created to measure self-reported New Media Literacies skills. You can still take the survey to see your New Media Literacy Score here, and if you feel so inclined it would be great if you shared your score with me via Twitter @Jimmysw. But it is totally up to you. I also wanted to assess the levels of NML’s of social work students and educators and see if there is a significant difference between the two groups when it comes to new media literacies.

Results….

The results indicated that the survey instrument had adequate reliability and that between this study and Ioana’s, seven similar subscales of new media literacies emerged. There was a significant difference between the new media literacies levels of social work students and educators where students had higher levels of NML’s. Examining the number of hours engaged with media may also explain why students scored higher than educators in new media literacies as students spend more time playing games online or on their phones. Despite the argument for distraction with this type of media, the NML’s theoretical framework and concept of participatory culture illustrates how students are learning differently in a digital environment. They are using the skills of multitasking, play, appropriation, and performance to achieve some desired outcome and the reality is that there are tangible skills being learned in gaming and digital environments. Naturally there are some limitations with this study, such as the need for a better recruitment strategy and sample because the current strategy relied heavily on using technology, which could imply an inherent bias towards individuals that may already have higher levels of media literacy.

The social work literature is replete with arguments for increasing the information and communication technology competency of students as well as educators. These digital competencies are important, but I think we also need to include the topic of participatory culture and specifically new media literacies. As social workers we respond to contexts that shape practice, use critical thinking skills augmented by creativity and curiosity, and engage in research-informed practice and practice informed research. These are skills that compliment the concept of participatory culture and new media literacies, and this study provides a starting point to discuss the place of NML’s in social work education.

Lastly, a common misunderstanding of technology is the focus on what the tools do and do not allow. The conversation on digital technology and learning needs to include a focus on the participatory aspects of this new digital culture and how increasing knowledge around new media literacies can address the challenges we face in an ever increasing digital world. Expanding our view of new media, digital technology, and understanding participatory culture will help us to build upon the skills students bring to the classroom. This is an exciting time with the opportunity to empower students to build upon those skills by incorporating new media literacies in a way that will expand knowledge, create opportunities for collaboration, and prepare students for practice in a new and diverse society.

Some of that last part was taken from the manuscript now currently under review. I hope that if you like what you see, you will visit this blog more often or follow me on Twitter, and seek out the manuscript IF it gets published. Fingers crossed!

iPolicy: Evaluating iPads in social welfare

In the Spring of 2013 I authored a couple blog posts on my social welfare policy course that was designated an iPad course. You can find the posts here and here as well as a post about an iPad specific assignment.

I also took the opportunity to conduct a small study on the experience and now you can see the full write up in the Journal of Technology in Human Services. The first 50 people to follow this link can download a free copy of the article “iPolicy: Exploring and Evaluating the use of iPads in a Social Welfare Policy Course.” The iPad was/is a great tool and I am still teaching an iPad required course, although the course is focused on social media, digital activism, and eCitizenship. The exciting thing about this class is that I teach it both online and face-to-face. This summer I am developing an iBook for the course in the Fall and so far using iBooks Author has been relatively easy and even Fun. Yes I dare say fun. I will try to come back to this journal to share my iBook and the experiences I have with this technology throughout the summer but I have a few things to finish up first. I hope you have great plans for the summer and be sure to stop back by this blog again in the future or sign up for email alerts. You can also follow me on Twitter :D

#SWKTweets from #BPD2014

Just a quick note to share the link for the Live Twitter chat Laurel Hitchcock and I presented at BPD.

http://t.co/PiqLkovh0W

I had promised to post more on this presentation a few weeks back but the semester has been a little overwhelming. Laurel has written up a spectacular post on her blog, and you should definitely check it out if you are interested in this presentation and understanding more about teaching Professional Social Work Skills with Twitter.

#SWpolicy410 & Twitter Chats in Social Work Education

Last night President Obama gave his 2014 State of the Union Address. Because I am teaching social welfare policy, I wanted my students to watch and engage with this event outside of the classroom. I have written on this blog before about the use of technology and social media in the classroom, and specifically about Twitter (Twittering and Documentaries) and how we can use it to develop skills. I see Twitter as a very powerful tool to engage students outside of the classroom, and a tool which requires incredible critical thinking skills. Yes, I said critical thinking skills. But it also helps students develop digital literacy and other competencies that are useful in social work practice today and the future. Twitter is space where individuals can interact and share information. Disseminating information in less 140 characters of text may seem mundane but it actually requires one to organize their thoughts and articulate them in a meaningful way. This requires higher level thinking and may frustrate some, so be patient and remember to learn about Twitter and how to use it properly. There are some great resources to get started, such as Dr. Laurel Iverson-Hitchcock or Dean Nancy Smyth and others.

This post is meant to demonstrate how I used Twitter to engage my policy students in the State of the Union Address. I already require students to obtain a Twitter account as part of another assignment in class, so it was a natural fit to encourage them to Live Tweet during the Address. Live Tweeting is essentially sending out messages via Twitter during a live event, such as the State of the Union. I already discussed proper use of Twitter in the classroom, but I gave students some ideas on what to Tweet during the Address. Generally, I wanted to see their reactions or questions to what the President discussed. One main objective of this activity was to help students identify and begin to obtain an interest in policy and issues that impact the profession and our clients. I also made sure that students included the course hashtag (#swpolicy410) in their tweets so that I could archive the event later. I had about 13 students engage in the Live Tweet and I was amazed at the results. Below is a Storify story of the event.

One of the greatest benefits I see in doing an activity like this is that my students have the opportunity to interact with others from around the country and the world. For example, several of my followers started to engage into our Live Twitter Chat/Event by ReTweeting mine and students’ tweets. I think this gives students an opportunity to later connect with these individuals (like @MikeLICSW) and organizations (like @CRISPontheHill) for a variety of purposes. I hope that as we discuss this in class, students will feel comfortable reaching to these individuals/organizations to help with research and policy advocacy. This activity helps students build skills and become competent social workers.  I am not trying to imply that every social work course incorporate Twitter. That would be ludicrous. Assignments and activities should correspond to learning goals and objectives. Live Tweeting and Twitter Chats represent just one innovative way to engage students and help them learn and get excited about social work and social welfare policy. If you have any questions about Live Tweeting or simply want to leave a comment. Feel free to do so, and you can always follow me on Twitter.

Successful Nonprofit Board Governance. Resources and Research.

Building off the steam generated on the ARNOVA listserv several days ago with the question about Why Nonprofits Fail? I decided to ask the List for research and resources related to successful nonprofit board governance. My question was “What are some of the quintessential pieces on board governance or getting the board successfully involved in the organization?” The list responded with some great resources, which I have compiled below. They are presented in random order as they came into my email inbox :D

 

Again, I understand that there is a lot of research out there on successful board governance so this list is in no way comprehensive. It may offer a good starting point or not, but I hope that it is helpful. I know as a member of a nonprofit board that I will be looking into these resources to help my organization (and board) become more successful in the future.

 

Why Do Nonprofits Fail?

One of the other jobs I perform is as a volunter for the ARNOVA Listserv. I act as a facilitator to help others with subscribing, unsubscribing, and posting to the list. Currently, the list has over 1,500 different Nonprofit and Voluntary Organization related individuals, professionals, scholars, and students. It is a great community that I would encourage you to become part of if you are interested in Nonprofit Organizations. The other day Jessica Sowa from the University of Colorado Denver posted a question on behalf of a student. The student was interested in quintessential research on Why Nonprofits Fail. The List responded with some amazing resources that I thought I would share here for anyone interested in the Nonprofit and Voluntary sector. The list may not be comprehensive and as some pointed out on the List, the question about why Nonprofits Fail is fairly broad. Therefore, what follows may or may not answer the question. However, I think provides a great example of how a community of individuals can help shed light on a particular issue. The references may not be complete (as in ready for a Reference list or Bibliography, or even in alphabetical order), but I hope you find this helpful.

  • Hager, M. A., Galaskiewicz, J., & Larson, J. A. (2004). Structural embeddedness and the liability of newness among nonprofit organizations. Public Management Review, 6(2), 159-188.
  • Mark A. Hager. 1999. Explaining Demise Among Nonprofit Organizations. Doctoral dissertation, University of Minnesota, Department of Sociology.   
  • Beth M. Duckles, Mark A. Hager and Joseph Galaskiewicz. 2005. “How Nonprofits Close: Using Narratives to Study Organizational Processes.” Pp. 169-203 (chapter 7) in Qualitative Organizational Research, edited by K.D. Elsbach. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.  
  • Mark A. Hager. 2001. “Financial Vulnerability among Arts Organizations: A Test of the Tuckman-Chang Measures.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 30(2): 376-392.
  • Mark A. Hager, Joel J. Pins and Cheryl A. Jorgensen. 1997. “Unto Thy Maker: The Fate of Church-Based Nonprofit Clinics in a Turbulent Health Care Environment.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 26(Supplement): S85-S100.
  • Mark Hager, Joseph Galaskiewicz, Wolfgang Bielefeld and Joel Pins. 1996. “Tales From the Grave: Organizations’ Accounts of their Own Demise.” American Behavioral Scientist 39(8): 975-994.
  • Keating, EK., Fischer, M., Gordon, TP., & Greenlee, J. (2005)  Assessing Financial Vulnerability in the Nonprofit Sector   https://research.hks.harvard.edu/publications/getFile.aspx?Id=151
  • Lecy JD. & Van Slyke DM. (2013),Nonprofit Sector Growth and Density: Testing Theories of Government Support J Public Adm Res Theory  23 (1): 189-214.
  • Joe Galaskiewicz and Wolf Bielefeld’s Nonprofit Organizations in an Age of Uncertainty is really the classic study.  Mark, Joe and Wolf’s “Tales from the Grave” article in a special American Behavioral Scientist issue on organizational failure (8/96) is close to quintessential. The volume, edited by Helmut Anheier, also has takes by other leading sociologists on org failure in general.
  • The Pollyanna Principles: Reinventing ‘Nonprofit Organizations’ to Create the Future of Our World.  You can find those 4 chapters online here http://pollyannaprinciples.org/info/read-part-1/
  • Seibel, Wolfgang (1996): Successful Failure: An Alternative View on Organizational Coping. In: American Behavioral Scientist 39 (8), pp. 1011-1024.
  • Meyer, Marshall W.; Zucker, Lynne G. (1989): Permanently Failing Organizations. London: Sage.
  • Hall, P. D. (1999). Vital Signs: Organizational Population Trends and Civic Engagement in New Haven, Connecticut, 1850-1998. Civic engagement in American democracy. T. Skocpol and M. P. Fiorina. Washington, D.C.; New York, Brookings Institution Press ; Russell Sage Foundation: 211-248.
  • King, W. I. and K. E. Huntley (1928). Trends in philanthropy; a study in a typical American city. New York, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Kingma, B. R. (1993). “Portfolio Theory and Nonprofit Financial Stability.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 22(2): 105-119.
  • Chang, C. F. and H. P. Tuckman (1991). “Financial Vulnerability and Attrition as Measures of Nonprofit Performance.” Annals of Public & Cooperative Economics 62(4): 655.
  • Tuckman, H. P. and C. F. Chang (1991). “A Methodology for Measuring the Financial Vulnerability of Charitable Nonprofit Organizations.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 20(4): 445-460.
  • Foster, W., B. Dixon, et al. (2003). Funding: Patterns and Guideposts in the Nonprofit Sector. Boston, MA, Bridgespan: 24.
  • Foster, W. and G. Fine (2007). “How Nonprofits Get Really Big.” Stanford Social Innovation Review 5(2).
  • Kim, P. and J. Bradach (2012). “Why More Nonprofits Are Getting Bigger.” Stanford Social Innovation Review 10(2): 15-16.
  • Chikoto, G. L. and D. G. Neely (2013). “Building Nonprofit Financial Capacity: The Impact of Revenue Concentration and Overhead Costs.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.
  • Tuckman, H.P., and C.F. Chang. 1991. “A methodology for measuring the financial vulnerability of charitable nonprofit organizations.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly no. 20 (4):445-460.

So again, the list is not comprehensive, but I know when doing research it is always good to have a place to start. Best of luck in your research and feel free to share any other resources that you find.

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