Social Media in Social Work Education

Developing teaching and learning strategies

Authored by: Joanne Westwood

Routledge International Handbook of Social Work Education

Print publication date:  April  2016
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138890237
eBook ISBN: 9781315712536
Adobe ISBN: 9781317495239


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As communication is a key way in which social workers engage with individuals, families and groups for the purposes of assessment and intervention, developing students’ communication skills has long been a key aim of social work education. Whilst the development of students’ skills in face-to-face communication has traditionally dominated curricula, the recent growth in cyber and digital technologies, most particularly social media, has brought about new challenges for practitioners’ professional relationships with service users and carers, and the boundaries between workers’ personal and professional lives (Mishna et al., 2012). Students entering social work education are increasingly sophisticated users of digital technologies and are looking to their educators to guide and support them in how to engage in social media in ways which are consistent with the ethics and values of the profession. This chapter will focus particularly on the opportunities and challenges which social media presents to the profession and consider how social work education should prepare students for these. It begins with an overview of terminology used and then goes on to discuss a range of practical and ethical issues related to using social media in social work education and in supporting student use of social media for practice.

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