Online Workshop, Social Media

Social media and continuing professional development in social work: critical perspectives and future possibilities


Next Tuesday afternoon (13th March) a workshop at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, will bring together social work academics, practitioners and social media experts to discuss the benefits and pitfalls of using social media as a means of continuing professional development (CPD) in social work.

It is a small workshop and unfortunately there are no more places available. However, we will be live tweeting using the hashtag #12thMW so please follow if you can between 2.00pm and 4.30pm.

The workshop will feature contributions from:

  • Shirley Ayres (Digital Strategy and Communications Consultant)
  • Victoria Hart (Social Worker)
  • Claudia Megele (Senior Lecturer & Module Leader MSc Programme, University of Hertfordshire)
  • Dr. Martin Webber (Lecturer and Programme Leader Institute of Pyschiatry, King’s College)

This is an opportune time to discuss CPD in social work with the impending closure of the post-qualifying framework in July and the start of endorsement of CPD by the College of Social Work. We hope that this workshop will help to advance the thinking of the College about the role of social media in CPD in social work.

To start the discussion, Daisy Bogg (social worker and Member Services Development Officer at the College of Social Work) has written the following statement of behalf of The College:

The world has changed. Technology is now both the present and the future. It could be suggested that social work needs to grasp and utilise all of the various communication mechanisms available if we are to make sure we remain relevant and reflect the society in which we operate. Social media represents a far reaching way to share views, ideas and best-practice across diverse areas and geography. Surely this can only be a good thing?

For the technophobes out there it can be a daunting thing to approach. How does it work? What can it do? How will it help? What equipment do I need? Can I break it if I press too many buttons?

I guess if you have never really had to use it it can be a overwhelming world to break into, but I would urge people to stick with it and just jump in, it really can open up a world of information, peer support and learning that is instantly accessible from your own front room.

CPD is not always about traditional training courses or academic peer reviewed research articles, the important thing is the impact of learning, not necessarily the way it is delivered.

From Twitter, to Facebook, to LinkedIn and beyond, there are so many options that are available to today’s social work professionals, which in a world of increasing cost pressures and budget cuts (which of course usually includes restrictions on training options) could provide the opportunity for social workers to explore a whole range of issues and development needs as well as to access peer support networks that would never have been possible in a pre-computer age.

Social media can be a valuable addition to the social workers toolkit, from social work specific debates on twitter, through to facebook groups of social workers discussing opinions on both practice and policy, blogs (which are effectively online journals) on a range of subjects and e-learning packages that support self-directed learning and practice development. From a CPD point of view technology is opening up options for us that have never been available before, and personally I think that should be celebrated and promoted. How else would we be able to debate the differences between English and Scottish mental health law, or poll national views on the best course of action in a specific case? Surely this level of interaction across the profession should not be sniffed at – if used well it can serve to strengthen both the evidence-base and the voice of social work.

The College is in the process of developing an endorsement scheme for a range of training and learning and is unable to recommend any specific resources at the moment. However The College Communities of interest which are currently hosted on the Local Government Association (LGA) Knowledge Hub, has been established by The College to provide a facilitated forum and range of professional resources and an online practice helpdesk ‘Knowledge at The College’ (accessible via your member dashboard) are both available to support good practice, along with a whole library of e-books and selected professional journals. These are the very real benefits, that as a member you can access and take part in, and are just some of the ways that technology can support social work CPD in today’s gadget orientated world. Often the most important thing in social work practice is to remember that you are not alone, and online forums, social media and electronic resources can make a real difference and connect you with other social workers across the country (and beyond).

As this statement suggests, the College is using social media to engage practitioners in discussions about their work and is open to discussing its role in a social worker’s CPD.

We are pleased to have a range of people attending the workshop on Tuesday to discuss this, including social work students, practitioners (including some undertaking post-qualifying training), managers and academics. Also, the British Association of Social Workers will be represented at the workshop. BASW have a CPD policy and this can be downloaded here.

So, if you can, please follow the discussion on twitter (#12thMW). If you can’t, the outcome of the workshop will be shared on this blog and elsewhere online. Thank you.

This is reblogged from Dr. Martin Webber’s blog.

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