Top 5 Best Mobile Apps for Social Work Students

mobile-app-download

I will be sharing with you the top 5 best mobile apps that will hopefully make your life easier as a social work student. Why not start off the semester with a better system to help keep you organized? I have identified 5 mobile apps that will serve you well in the classroom and later in practice.

These apps are available for download in both Google Play or iTunes depending upon your mobile operating system. As a future social worker, your ability to be mobile and organized will be the key to your success. So, lets start incorporating these fabulous tools in your student life now.

Dropbox– Don’t get caught without your usb drive or say I mistakenly left my assignment on my home computer. There is no excuse for not being able to access important documents, projects, or information with the dropbox mobile app at your disposal. Dropbox is an online cloud storage system that allows you to access music, photos, documents, and/or power points from any computer. Most importantly, you have the ability to authorize certain computers to sync and save documents across all your devices. Let’s say, you are working on a document from the library and you save it in your dropbox folder online. If you authorize your home computer as an authorized device, your work is now saved in the dropbox folder on your home computer’s hard drive as well as your mobile phone.

Evernote-Looking for that research or reference that you can’t seem to find? You need Evernote to help keep you organized. Evernote is like an electronic accordion file stored in the clouds for easy access. Evernote provides an extension for your internet web browser that will allow you to save web pages, photos, research, and other articles as you surf the internet. The Evernote mobile app will then allow you to access your electronic files/notebooks where ever you are and whenever you need them.

Mindmeister-As social workers, we really need to move away from lugging around large flip charts or random scraps of notebook paper when working on group projects to organize and gather data. A popular tool used by many project managers to organize group thinking is mind mapping. Mind maps are visual organizations of gathered data which have proven to be effective for all learning styles. The added bonus of using mind mapping technology is that it will also organize data in traditional outlines for more linear thinkers.

Google Voice- When working at your field placement or even in your personal activities, do you really want to share your personal cell phone number? With Google Voice, you no longer have to make that choice. Google Voice will add a second phone line to any mobile phone with a free phone number from the zip code of your choice. Google Voice will allow you to screen and block annoying callers, send and receive text, archive call logs, and much more. It also provides an options for low-cost international calling.

SWHelper- Have you ever considered talking with social work students from other schools of social work or in other countries to discuss social policy, social justice issues, or human rights? Well, now you can with ease without compromising privacy and security. Collaborate, share ideas, give and receive support to another fellow social work student while staying current on social issues both domestically and abroad. Download on Android or iTunes.

Why Bloggers and Businesses Should Invest More Time in Google Plus Than Facebook

by Deona Hooper, MSW

Google Plus, the latest social media platform developed by Google, has made great strides in its effort to compete with Facebook. Facebook may have more users, but its new EdgeRank algorithm has been found to greatly diminish users’ ability to share updates, but don’t fret.  Facebook has a solution to solve this problem for a small fee of course. In the past, many could understand paying a fee to promote content to people outside of your friend list, but now I have to pay to reach my own friends? This is ridiculous! I am going to tell you several reasons why investing your time in Google Plus is better than investing your money into Facebook.

Google is the most widely used search engine on planet earth. What Google  has done and said, “If you use Google Plus, we will promote your content on our search engine over those who don’t”. Do you know how powerful of a search engine optimization tool this is just for using Google Plus? There is no down side to this if you are a blogger or a business owner. Google plus is a very rich and visually appealing platform to use.  They offer Google Pages for your business which is equivalent to the Facebook Fan page.  Additionally, they offer Google Plus Profile Pages which is the counterpart to the Facebook Profile Page. Recently, Google Plus began offering communities which are designed to compete with Facebook groups. Most importantly, I believe the Google Plus mobile app and iPad app are absolutely visually stunning  applications. When you add Google Hangouts on top of all that, could it get any better? Why pay for Skype or Ustream, when you can conduct a Google Hangout with up to twelve people and live stream it using Google Air on Youtube for free? For cost effectiveness and top notch quality, I am one tech geek that is truly impressed with Google’s new suite of products.

As if there couldn’t be more, well there is! By investing time into your Google Plus profile, Google will now integrate your blog posts with your Google Plus profile in search returns. Lets say someone searches for a key word and out of the list of search queries only one post shows up with a picture. Which search return do you think will likely attract the person conducting the search? If you guessed the one with the picture attached, you are right. I have attached an example for your review. This is a first page search query. Don’t believe me,  search for “famous social workers” yourself.

Also View:

Google Plus v Facebook on Mashable.com

famous social workers - Google Search

Top 5 Tools to Help Protect Against Cyber Bullying

I will be sharing with you a few useful tools and recommendations to help protect yourself and/or your children from cyber bullying both online and offline. Although social media and the internet has revolutionized the way our society communicates, it also presents many dangers that both children and adults must navigate in order to protect themselves from harm.

Those who wreak havoc on others primarily rely on either one of two factors in which to inflict damage on their intended target:  1) anonymity or 2) position or status that by virtue give them credibility over their victim. Their predatory actions depend on the silence of their victim, the inability of their victim to prove the harm being inflicted upon them, and/or the powerless feelings by the victim to stop future behavior.

One of the best examples of this psychology is in the movie “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” where a state’s guardian/worker uses his authority to impose his will on the main character, Lisbeth. Click here to View Trailer.  This post in no way serves as legal advice, but hopefully it may help you to access your situation from a strategic point of view.

What victims and potential victims should realize is that your tormentor’s psychology is obsessed with maintaining their public persona in order to conceal their private activities. Your silence is their best weapon, but I must caution you that any attempts to expose their evil side without a strategic approach will catapult them into defensive mode. Your tormentor will intensify his or her efforts in order to further undermine your credibility.

By recognizing your tormentor’s psychology, you can turn your silence into your best strategic advantage. Without them being in defensive mode, your tormentor conducts business as usual which is being the devil to you, but a saint in front of everyone else.

Why not use this period of time to document their behavior? Other than in person harassment, the most commonly used means to harass or threaten is either via computer or via phone. Here are few tools and recommendations to help support your accounting of events, but keep in mind these tools are double edged sword. Don’t send anything that you don’t want archived or saved.

  1. Screenshot– Provides  users the ability to capture a time stamped photo of whatever appears on their computer screen as well as available on android and apple phones. For more information view “Screen Capture Tools: 40+ Free Tools and Techniques”
  2. Find IP Address in Emails– Some may think creating an another email account will maintain anonymity by protecting their identity.  However, this is not the case. Email accounts provide the IP address for the computer being used to access the email account. For more information view “How to Find the Location in the Header of Gmail”, this article also gives information on other email account types.
  3. Youmail  and Google Voice-Are harassing phone calls a problem? Do you feel the need to log your incoming, outgoing calls, and text messaging….then you need to add these two apps to your phone ASAP. Youmail is unique because it can track and catalog hangups, incoming calls, and voicemails to your phone. In addition, you can call block and ditch calls with a no longer in service message. Additionally, it will act as a caller id even when someone tries to block their number and when your phone is off. Google Voice gives you the ability to add a second line to your phone with a new number without having to give out your carrier cell phone number. Also, it provides a recording option for your phone calls. Caution In the same way you may use these tools to protect yourself, don’t engage in behavior that will allow these same tools to be used against you. Often times with bullying, their tactic is to strike, but catch you in the act of retaliating.
  4. Reporting Harassment and Threats- For Information on reporting to Twitter view “How to document harassment and cyberstalking on Twitter”, for Information on reporting to Facebook view “Track Your Facebook Abuse, Bullying and Spam Reports”, and for information on general reporting view “Cyber bullying, School Bullying, and Bullycide”
  5. Social Media Monitoring-Some parents maybe ambivalent on whether to monitor or not monitor their kids behavior. This resource provides several resources to parents of children being bullied and parent’s of the bullying child. Most importantly, it provides a comprehensive tool to monitor all of your child’s social media and cell phone usage in order to provide a comprehensive picture of your child’s activity both incoming and outgoing.

Microsoft Offers 14.99 Windows 8 Upgrade to Windows 7 Users

by Deona Hooper, MSW

Microsoft just released the newest version of its windows operating system for $14.99 for current Windows 7 users. Additionally, Microsoft is offering free upgrades to users with a Windows 7 computer less than a year old. To receive the bargain basement Microsoft deal, users will need to provide their activation key for their current Windows 7 operating system during the registration process for the Windows 8 upgrade.   The following  is a Youtube Video to assist you with the upgrade process, and you can visit Mashable.com for more details. Windows 7 Users who do not qualify for the specified time period  are eligible to receive the Windows 8 upgrade at $39.00 regardless of when purchased.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/4glWb6TaxJo[/youtube]

Here is an excerpt from Wired.com on the 10 Best Features of Windows 8:

The wait is over: Windows 8 has arrived. After many, many months of talking about Windows 8, Microsoft officially releases the new operating system on Friday. You can buy an upgrade pack or a new Windows 8 device (including Surface RT) on Oct. 26.

See Also:
  • Wired’s Review of Windows 8
  • FAQ: Windows 8 vs Windows RT
  • Microsoft Surface RT Tablet Review

With the exciting new era for Microsoft comes a huge list of changes to Windows. Not only is the interface totally different, there are several new features and capabilities. Here are our 10 favorites, plus one that gets honorary mention.

Easy Gestures

Windows 8 is the first truly gestural version of Windows. The OS supports intuitive simple touch gestures like swiping in from the left to switch apps and swiping in from the right for the Charms menu. Semantic zoom is another big winner. Whether you’re in the Start Screen or a specific app, like the People hub, you can navigate using the pinch-to-zoom gesture to get a high-level view. For example, you can use semantic zoom in the News app to see all of the news sections available, instead of having to scroll through the app.

Other useful gestures include swiping in from the top of the screen for app-specific commands and settings and dragging an app from the top down to close it out.

Read More

 

Creating an Instructional Video Using Youtube

Videos have become part of main stream America, just Google Tobuscus or watch the Justin Bieber movie to see the influence of YouTube on their careers. Any Linkster or Y generation kid will know who you are talking about. So what does this have to do with social work? Here is an opportunity and a challenge. The opportunity is to identify and develop client-specific content.

The challenge is to take the next step of creating your own educational videos to address your populations. Video recorders are available for a minimum amount of money or can be obtained on e-bay for even less. Windows 8 comes with free video editing software to make it easy to deliver your educational message. It is not as difficult as you may think…

Here is an excerpt from “How to Craft the Perfect Instructional Video:

We’ve now discussed how to create an effective event and testimonial videos. In this article, we’ll explore how to create an instructional video, which is probably the most scalable form of social media video content.

It’s not bound by the frequency of events or the availability of a testimonial subject (although you may want to feature an outside expert as explained below). Social media in general is a great forum to provide support and the instructional video can be a great tool that helps your customers better use your products.

Instruction options

Any IT related product has an inherent opportunity for the creation of instructional videos. Most software products, whether on web, mobile, or desktop, have many features that customers either aren’t aware of or aren’t familiar with how to use in an optimal way. Creating a series of instructional videos with one video per feature or function is a great way of creating interesting video content that really helps your customers.

For physical goods products, there are a lot of instructional video topics that can stem from how to use the product. For example, cosmetics have an unending instructional video opportunity that can teach people how to look great. The best thing about instructional videos is that they afford you a chance to give customers useful information while featuring what your products can do in a way that directly drives sales.

Links to examples of client-specific videos:

Personal Grooming

How to Interview for a Job : Skills Assessment for a Job Interview

Social Skills for Life: Managing Strong Emotions

Top 5 Social Work Resources You Should Know About

If you like to stay in the know about all things social work, I have the several resources that will help keep you in the know. These five websites will serve as portals into a wealth of  global social work knowledge.  Most importantly, you don’t have to find all this information for yourself because they do it for you. Whether you need information on current events, practice or policy, you definitely need to maintain these sites in your bookmarks.

Here are the Top 5 social work resources that I recommend:

  1. Social Work.Career– This website is maintained by Blogger Dorlee Michaeli who is an MBA and MSW Clinical Social Worker. Dorlee’s motto is “I’m watching twitter, google+ and the web so you don’t have to…” , and she really does. Each week, there is a “Best in Mental Health Series” where she gathers blog post from various social work blogs on the net and compiles them for you. Dorleem Blog covers an array of topics including technology, career development, social work education and more.

  2. Social Work Blogs– Looking for a Social Work Blog or want to list your social work blog, then look no further. Social Work Blogs is your primary directory for social work blogs on the net. Don’t have time to read every social work blog, they give weekly recommendations on some good reads.

  3. Social Work News-Do you want to know about social work news around the globe or in your country? If so, Social Work News needs to be on your desktop. It keeps me informed daily about issues all over of the world. Without Social Work news, you would have to  search for social work specific news yourself.

  4. Community Care UK-Community Care UK is very informative especially if you are interested in learning more about practices in the United Kingdom to compare and contrast policy, practice, research, and initiatives by the British government.

  5. Trabajo Social- Trabajo Social is a blog out of Spain which provides a portal to other social work resources. They also have a library of podcasts in which I can’t use because it’s in Spanish. However, there is a list of blogs which are very informative with Google Translate.

Top 5 Best Free Website Builders For Your Practice

Frustrated User

I will be discussing my recommendations for the best free website builders to assist you in crafting an online professional image. Whether you are creating an online portfolio or starting a small business, you only have once to make an online impression of yourself with a well planned website.

You could always hire someone to design your website, integrate your social media, provide internet security and IT support. On the other hand, this could be pretty expensive for someone with minimal assets and capital. However, you don’t want potential clients and employers dismissing you based on the look and layout of your website.

Before choosing a website platform, you must first decide whether it will be updated frequently or whether your web content will primarily remain the same. Blog style platforms are great for content that needs to be updated frequently. Static website platforms are primarily for individuals who need their content updated only every few months.

The Top 5 best free website platforms that I recommend are as follows:

Weebly

Weebly’s platform uses a drop and drag type website builder which is very easy to use. It will give you a professional looking website with a wide selection of templates in its free version. For someone with no technical skills, I highly recommend weebly as the best option for the beginner. Advanced features are offered for your weebly site with an upgraded plan.

 Wix

Wix is a great option for someone who needs to display a lot of multi-media such as videos and photos. Wix has recently upgraded it’s technology to HTML5 which now displays on Apple products. Wix also uses a drop and drag website builder platform. The look and feel is geared towards achieving a rich multi-media website.

WordPress.com or WordPress.org

WordPress is the ultimate marriage between static content and frequent updates because it has the ability to do both. WordPress is a free open source platform that will allow you to create with very few limits for a small business owner. WordPress.com is hosted on a wordpress server, and WordPress.org is hosted on a hosting service that you pay for. WordPress is also optimized for mobile site visitors, and it even includes a handy mobile app for on the go posting.

Google Sites

Google sites is the ultimate choice for static websites which includes free hosting courtesy of google. Their sites are fully integratable with a suite of free google products such as google drive, google calendar, gmail, youtube, adsense, and more. Google Sites come with an array of templates that can be modified through widgets for the beginner, but it also give the ability to inject html code and java scripts for the more advanced user. The skill of the user will affect the achievable look and feel of a google site.

Google sites are optimized for mobile site visitors, and it is free to use. Google also offers the ability to purchase your own domain name using Google Apps at a cost ranging between 8 to 12 dollars with privacy options included. For what comes with the purchase of a domain name using Google Apps, I have not found anything better. Google Apps needs a stand alone post by itself which is possible in the near future. Resources will be given below to learn more on these products.

Blogger

Blogger is a Google product that uses a blog style platform. It will provide another alternative for sites needing frequent updates. Blogger has been making strides to improve customization for its users. Most importantly, it is fully integratable with a suite of free Google products, and it’s free to use. However, this option would make a great personal website and your business type would determine whether Blogger is a good fit for you.

Message in a Bottle…An Epiphany that Probably Won’t Reach Its Intended Recipient

“Message in a Bottle” was not only a romantic Kevin Costner movie, but once upon a time was a hopeful form of communication. Someone would have an epiphany or reflective moment that desperately needed to find its way to the target of their affection. A message in bottle was then thrown into the ocean hoping that fate will stir the bottle to its intended destination. Before telegraphs, telephones, and the internet, message in a bottle was the hope of connecting with someone outside of your reach, but are we still using a “message in a bottle” mentality in a technologically advanced society?

The internet is just as vast as the sea because the possibility of destinations seem limitless. Today, “message in a bottle” has been upgraded to a Tumblr, Facebook Note, Blogger, WordPress Blog or some form of electronic post.

There has been instances of calls for help, cries for support, profound confessions, or enlightened reflections which may or may not be heard depending on the number of followers, friends, or search engine optimization that allow search engines to find you in this vast world wide web. Does the profoundness of the message correlate with its ability to be heard?

Is Honeybooboo’s preferences more profound than someone battling Cancer who is sharing their experiences in hopes of helping someone else because her medium to be heard is bigger?  As a matter of fact, I would argue the less profound it appears, there is wider appeal. As social workers when we exercise the “message in a bottle” mentality, we lessen our ability to help someone else. It requires those in need to find us in a sea of darkness instead of being that Beacon of Light.

What can we do about it? Social Work Helper may not provide the be all solution for everyone, but it is my attempt at navigating the seas by offering a beacon.  As a Google news outlet with rss feeds placed in the top news aggregator mobile apps around the world, anyone can submit an original blog post or republish a blog post from their own blog to Social Work Helper to help expand their readership. How is this helpful to you? When you take your valuable time to share your dreams, triumphs, failures, and experiences that knowledge should reach as many people as possible in order to help advance someone else.

If you are trying to develop your own magazine, than Social Work Helper may not be the right platform for you. However, if you primary goals are increasing your professional profile, increasing awareness on issues, and reaching as many people as possible, than publishing on this vehicle will help expand your reach.

Work with me in creating a platform that  will better support professional or student development and relationships without having to randomly bump into each other on the world wide web.

Proposal to CSWE on Barriers Public Sector Social Workers Face in Pursuing a Social Work Degree ***Update***

This document was submitted to the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work and NASW-NC for Review prior to submitting to the Council for Social Work Education (CSWE).  I would love to hear your thoughts.  My hopes are to gain enough support, comments, testimonials prior to submission to Council for Social Work Education. So, they can see the need for assessment and change.

[gview file=”http://socialworkhelper.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/proposal-for-cswe.pdf”]

***Update***

The proposal was sent to the Council for Social Work Education and to the Congressional Social Work Caucus.  Here is the email response sent to me by CSWE President Darla Coffey. NASW-NC and the National Association of Social Workers in Washington D.C has also responded and offered support. NASW National followed up with CSWE on November 30, 2012. However, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill did not respond to my request for support.

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