How Social Work Can Benefit From Technology

Social Workers Toolkit

The world thrives on technology. We drool over the newest 3D televisions when they are announced, and pray to be the first person in line when that revolutionary new iPhone is released. Despite our desires for technology related to entertainment and fun, we thrive on technology for the conveniences it provides as well. Within the social work field, technology adds benefits to working professionals in numerous ways.

A Platform for Organization and Research
Who doesn’t love the feeling of being truly organized? It’s a breath of fresh air always knowing where you can find that specific contact info, or the prized website you found weeks ago with so many valuable resources. It’s easy to forget or to misplace physical documents, so the advantages of being technologically inclined are as convenient as they are efficient.

Another convenience that modern technology has brought to social workers is the research potential. Google Scholar and similar databases offer relevant information for research purposes, written by credible scholarly authors. The layout for these types of websites is extremely user-friendly. Accessing this information on tablets or even smartphones is simple.

But don’t be weary of new technology, despite your own level of understanding.

How should you feel about integrating these new ideas into your day to day work?

Daniel Ortiz Reti puts it into perspective perfectly in his Social Work Helper article from last year:

“Its time for you to learn! Social Workers should be tech savvy, if not experts. The time and cost it can save means more clients helped with less work for us. We work in a profession that is perpetually underfunded and over worked, and isn’t it time we come up with some solutions?”

In short, yes, it has been time for a tech minded overhaul for a while now. It’s all about utilizing the resources you have and developing a tech savvy mindset. You don’t have to understand complicated computer programs. Simply utilize technology.

The Application of Mobile Advantages
Smartphones have become tremendously popular in the world the last decade. It is estimated that one billion smartphones will be sold next year. The potential for mobile application is something that is always growing. It’s astounding that by 2016, the number of active smartphones is expected to outnumber humans on Earth!

With such a vastly huge number of smartphone users, the logical step for most career fields is to integrate smartphone apps into daily functions. Social workers want mobile technology because it’s useful as a means of always having information at your disposal.

Below are a few very useful smartphone apps that benefit those involved in all walks of social work. Pay special attention to the first example! :)

SocialWorkerApps

(Click to enlarge)

Benefits of Social Media
Social media campaigns help establish a presence for online counseling/social work endeavors. Social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter were once completely optional, but are proving to be more and more essential.

Are you fairly new to jumping on board the social network bandwagon? Don’t fret, it’s as easy as modeling your ideas after something successful. Look at the Facebook page for Social Work Helper for example. Almost 90,000 people like the page, and the posts are regular and engaging.

Provide the viewers of your social network campaign with useful and interesting content. Avoid spammy and random posts. Be genuine; that will pave your road to a successful social presence. Technology aids social work in numerous ways. Through research, mobile applications, and social networking, social work efforts can skyrocket. Convenience and practicality will resound you, and you’ll never look back!

Images courtesy of Technology is Revolutionizing The Social Work Field by Case Western University

*Editor’s Note: The Social Work Helper app is currently not available for downloads. However, the app will be upgraded and back in the app markets soon.

Using Twitter as a Virtual Organizing Meeting for Nonprofits

virtual-meeting

When trying to build a coalition or community organize around a specific event or cause, it is necessary to have community organizing meetings to help coordinate efforts, disseminate information and build your database for future calls to action. To be effective, online community organizing must be done in conjunction with boots on the grounds efforts in order to reach the level of success that most advocacy groups desire. However, the challenge for advocacy groups in online community organizing is identifying and capitalizing on opportunities for engagement. The functionality of Twitter provides several opportunities for advocacy groups, and this week I will be discussing how to use twitter as a virtual organizing meeting for week 3 of my evidence based Twitter Study.

Online activism can be expressed in three different ways. When used by boots on the ground individuals, it has the ability to create awareness and draw in individuals who are not at the event. With using this approach only, the primary purpose serves to create awareness and boost interested for increased engagement on the ground for future events. Slacktivism,also known as arm-chair activist, are typically criticized for mounting protest using social media while being to lazy to participate on the ground. However, this pessimistic view does not take into consideration the disabled, non-participants being activated, travel limitations, and so forth. The last and most effective expression of online activism uses a hybrid model of coordinating between slacktivists and “boots on the ground” in an effort to expand reach on social media.

This week, I wanted to explore using Twitter to facilitate a virtual organizing meeting via a live tweet chat format. In this tweetchat, I wanted to provide information on how to use twitter to identify collaborators and create allies. Most importantly, I wanted to help users understand twitter reach, and how to maximize hashtags and followers to expand reach. Last, I wanted participants to help identify non-social work organizations and individuals that social workers should be engaging with on Twitter. I used a 7 question open ended survey for participants to identify organizations and hashtags of non-social work organizations to create a master list for social workers. To view the archive of Sunday’s tweetchat, you can view http://sfy.co/edhM.

Tweets of the Week

Also, Sprout Social responding to a tweet is a perfect example of how mentions and tweeting to influential accounts can help get your brand and message in front of a bigger audience.

Challenges, Barriers, Limitations

By using this type of forum for a community organizing meeting, I wanted to narrow the focus on the highest priority information to be disseminated and the highest priority action I wanted participants to complete. Understanding twitter reach and asking participants to complete the survey in order to create a master list was the highest priorities were the top priorities for this chat. When using this type of forum, you have the ability to engage people from a variety of background. However, you should not assume because someone has access to a certain technology that they also understand how to manipulate it and extract data.

We are crossing the halfway mark of the #SWHelper Evidenced Based Twitter Study. Join us next week on April 6th at 3PM EST using the hashtag #swhelper. We will be discussing using twitter for advocacy, and a detail article on Sunday’s chat is forthcoming.

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