What technological changes are shaping the way social work education is delivered to America’s next generation of social workers? Find out here.
Just like other industries, social work is being shaped by the increasing adoption of new technologies. This is also true of social work education, where digital technology is changing how the next generation of social workers are learning and studying.
A major area of innovation has been online learning, where mobile apps, smartphones, and fast data networks are opening up new possibilities for course flexibility, collaboration and active learning.
These technologies have the potential to improve the way social work education is delivered and to provide new learning opportunities to social work students.
The Impact of Millennials on Social Work Education
According to the Pew Research Center, millennials (those born between the early 1980s and late 1990s) have already surpassed those in Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979) as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force.
What makes millennials different, and the younger “Generation Z” even more so, is their universal use of mobile devices and social media to communicate, create and access information.
A key characteristic of this generation is that they expect to be able to tap into all the information they need, whenever they need it. As noted by Strauss and Howe, this has resulted in a strong connection between their professional and social networks. It’s also given them a highly group-oriented learning approach, where they often look to peers for learning and development opportunities.
For students pursuing a social work degree, easy access to technologies like smartphones and tablets can be a boon. Students can access course materials and exercises immediately, and on their own timelines. They can also access e-books, journals and other learning materials located outside the school. These technological developments can save students (and schools) a significant amount in both textbook and educational costs.
To find out more about how technology is shaping the world of social work, read our article here.
How Technology Can Improve the Learning Experience
There are many opportunities for a social worker to benefit from technology in the classroom. Having information presented in digital form allows students to choose a format that suits their learning needs. This can include online video and audio, SlideShare presentations, interactive online quizzes and even games or simulations that test students’ skills in solving problems or interpersonal conflicts.
Social work is a highly interpersonal occupation, and as such, modern technology is helping to lower the barriers between teacher and student. Collaboration technologies such as Skype, chat and interactive mobile applications enable students to discuss and share their work with the rest of their study group, and receive feedback before continuing on to the next exercise.
For aspiring social workers, this kind of active, two-way learning approach is good preparation for work in the field, where they will often encounter situations that require creative thinking and on-the-spot problem-solving. This approach also gives teachers a steady stream of information on how effective their teaching style is, and whether any in-class adjustments are needed.
In addition to teaching social workers in an environment where they get to learn at their own pace and gain a better understanding of important concepts, technology plays another important role – it prepares them for a future where technology isn’t just another tool, but integral to how they will be working with their clients and each other.
Advance your social work career with the best online learning opportunities in the industry. Find out how an advanced online degree can help you meet your goals.