Technology and Entrepreneurship in Social Work

After helplessly watching her sister try to navigate the international adoption process, Felicia Curcuru launched Binti in an effort to reinvent foster care and adoption. Since the launch of the company in 2017, Binti has expanded its network to over 190 agencies across 26 states in the U.S. The software Binti creates helps social workers and others who work in foster care to effectively approve 80% more families and decrease their administrative burden by up to 40%.

Jimmy Chen, a Stanford graduate and the son of struggling immigrants from China, created Propel in 2014 after noticing that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients needed to call a 16-digit phone number to check their balance. In order to check their balances, some of the recipients would resort to strategies such as buying cheap items such as bananas. Currently, the Propel app helps 5 million households who are eligible for SNAP benefits to manage their finances!

Besides using technology and entrepreneurship to transform human service systems, what do these companies have in common? They were not started by social workers.

Technology and Entrepreneurship in Social Work

Technology and entrepreneurship have and will continue to transform our profession. But social workers have stayed on the sidelines of this creative process for too long. If we are to be successful in effectively disseminating our incredible values and pushing forth the mission of social work, social workers must play a more direct role in embracing the movements of technology and entrepreneurship.

This is not a new concept. Research articles on technology and entrepreneurship in social work have been published for years, and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has published reports on technology in social work. Furthermore, universities such as Columbia University in New York have embraced the movement, and have created a minor for social workers called “Emerging Technology, Media, and Society,” which trains social workers to understand the latest developments in the world of technology. Finally, thousands of social workers operate their own private practices and embrace the benefits of entrepreneurial practices.

This slow, yet continuous shift towards technology and entrepreneurship is important, but it must be accelerated. The question still remains: how do we enable social workers to embrace the power behind technology and entrepreneurship? Here are some ideas:

Enabling Social Workers to Embrace Technology and Entrepreneurship

First and foremost, social work curricula must embrace technology and entrepreneurship. The curricula must incorporate mandatory courses on technology and entrepreneurship, and these courses should be taught by experts in these fields.

Social work departments must enable field placements for social workers in technology or startup environments. By being a part of successful organizations in these spaces, social work students can be exposed to this type of thinking and be inspired by the possibilities!

Social workers themselves must take time to explore and learn about these fields. Although it is difficult enough to maintain our mental health while managing our caseloads, we can utilize the time we spend on webinars or Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to take classes in technology and entrepreneurship.

Social workers can become intrapreneurs, or employees that create new projects from within organizations and businesses. For example, during my time at a community mental health organization, I helped launch a social media channel for the organization’s therapists, which allowed us to feel more connected, share resources, and learn from one another.

Moving Forward

As social workers, we uphold an ethical code that enables us to represent the most marginalized members of our society. But we can only do this effectively by embracing the intersection between technology, entrepreneurship, and social work. Although there is no silver-bullet answer, we can help social workers gain entrepreneurial and technological skills by broadening the education available to social work students and ourselves so that we can all better understand the possibilities that are out there.

6 Helpful Webinars and Websites for Social Workers

At this time of uncertainty, it remains crucial that social workers are reminded of the importance of their roles in communities, legislation, and in their profession. After all, social worker employment is projected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2020). The websites listed below are intended to support social workers and other helping professionals emotionally, intellectually, and socially. Although these websites do not offer CEU credits, they serve as valuable resources to improve practice, gain new therapeutic skills, and promote self-care.

The Dibble Institute Web Series

You probably haven’t heard of them. The Dibble Institute is a nonprofit agency that specializes in relationship training for youth. Their goal is to help young people build a foundation for healthy romantic relationships now, and for lasting, positive family environments in the future.

The Dibble Institute is currently offering a 12-Week curriculum, “Mind Matters Online Series” to help the viewer develop skills and coping mechanisms to overcome anxiety and build resilience. It is presented by Dr. Carolyn Curtis and Dixie Zittlow. The sessions are recorded, so being present live is not necessary. Be prepared to gain insight towards the self, laugh, and even dance in this series.

ADDitude Resources for ADHD and helping professionals

This hidden gem has been around since 1998. Even though ADDitude is known for their website, they have a print magazine ADDitude, weekly newsletters, live and recorded webinars, ebooks, and free downloads. The inquisitive side of you will enjoy exploring since there is so much to uncover.

You may not have heard of Bessel van der Kolk, MD. He is recognized for his research on trauma and it’s various impacts at different stages of development. As helping professionals, we could learn a thing or two from what he has to say. In his presentation, On the Global Coronavirus Crisis: Steering Ourselves and Our Clients Through New & Developing Traumas, you will learn how to create and promote connection and community in this crisis and gain activities to share with clients that keep them from re-experiencing past traumas. 

Oregon State University Cancer Institute (OHSU)

Caring for Yourself and Caring for Others During a Disaster/Epidemic OHSU Center for Ethics in Health Care is led by Susan Hedlund, LCSW, OSW-C. Susan is Director of Patient/Family Support Services at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. This 25-minute webinar is helpful for not just social workers and social work students, but all health care professionals seeking to manage the stress of the coronavirus pandemic.

Therapist Aid

Therapist Aid provides therapy worksheets on challenges such as anger, self-esteem, CBT, stress, and relationships. These activity worksheets can be assigned to the client as a “homework assignment” or, like most helping professionals, this can be a joint activity with the client. You can also find helpful videos on Therapist Aid to help guide your sessions or use them as a teaching tool with your clients or students.

National Association of Social Workers

Last but not least: The National Association of Social Workers (NASW). This is an obvious choice. However, the NASW is constantly releasing new information, articles, and press releases. Recently, the NASW released a document titled “Anti-racism Resources” that lists books, podcasts, articles, and films to engage in anti-racism in light of the George Floyd protests and advocacy. The NASW website has a job search engine, research library, and offers online events.

There is an endless amount of excellent websites, webinars, and articles for social workers to improve their profession and it can be overwhelming. At the end of the day, self-care also helps us improve our practice and our profession. These are resources to lean on in times like these. 

How New Tech Can Support Caregivers as They Support Seniors

Up to 42% of Americans over the age of 65 take five or more medications, and in 2018, at least one in every five seniors experienced an adverse drug reaction. Such reactions are more common when seniors can’t properly adhere to the instructions that accompany their prescriptions.

In fact, according to U.S. Pharmacist, nonadherence accounts for about half of treatment failures and a quarter of hospitalizations every year. This, combined with the fact that healthcare providers are largely overwhelmed and overburdened, means caregivers have a unique opportunity to improve senior health outcomes. Caregivers can act as an extension of the medical industry to help seniors overcome the hurdles they face when it comes to medicating themselves properly.

Why Medication Adherence Is Challenging for Seniors

Experts agreed that the therapeutic efficacy of any medication requires an adherence rate of 80% or higher. To medicate properly, seniors must closely follow the instructions on each drug’s label and keep a consistent routine around consuming the right doses to avoid complications.

Unfortunately, the current average for medication adherence for chronic health conditions is only about 50%. For most patients, this isn’t enough to improve or stabilize their conditions — much less boost their life expectancy. But nonadherence is often a combination of hurdles that can be difficult for seniors to overcome on their own.

For example, the instructions on drug packaging may be confusing, and age-related memory loss can lessen the chances of proper adherence. The side effects of certain medications may also be uncomfortable, making patients hesitant to stick with them. Overall, keeping track of when and how to take various medications can be overwhelming for anyone.

The Important Role of Caregivers

Daily routines and medical schedules can be much easier for senior patients to adhere to with the assistance of a caregiver. As caregivers, a patient’s family members, friends, loved ones and volunteers can help ensure seniors take their prescriptions as directed and eat regular meals. What’s more, they can better monitor changing behaviors or symptoms that could indicate a poor reaction to medications.

Because the healthcare system is becoming increasingly overburdened, healthcare providers don’t always have the time or means necessary to devote to helping patients adhere to medications. Instead, the healthcare system should focus on providing caregivers with tools they can use to make senior care more manageable, especially when it comes to drug adherence. This will become even more necessary as the senior population grows.

The following tools can help caregivers address the medication adherence problem plaguing American seniors:

  • Automated medication dispensers: Medication dispensers have come a long way — from manually organized pillboxes to modern, automated dispensers that ensure people get the prescriptions they need. One of the most valuable aspects of automated medication dispensers is that they can sync with a mobile application to alert caregivers of missed doses and low prescriptions.
  • Personalized medication reminders: Medical alert systems and healthcare apps — or even simple reminders on a smartphone calendar — are vital to helping seniors prevent missed doses. Some apps are more detailed than others, so consider whether simple reminders will suffice or whether caregivers should receive confirmations as well.
  • Home delivery of presorted medications: In terms of convenience, having presorted medications delivered directly offers a critical advantage for both seniors and caregivers. Automated delivery systems can be synced with medication reminders to create a convenient, holistic routine that makes adherence more accessible than ever.

When Medication Adherence Is Easier

There are very clear, immediate benefits to practicing better medication adherence — the most obvious being the success of the medication. Data suggests that for every 10% improvement in medication adherence, healthcare costs can be reduced by 29%.

Adherence also has a halo effect on other aspects of a patient’s life, improving chances of eating healthy, exercising regularly and taking one’s own personal wellness journey more seriously. Better adherence is key to improving seniors’ quality of life and reducing the burden on the healthcare system, and caregivers are in a great position to help make it happen when armed with the right tools.

How To Activate PBS on Your Streaming Device

Would you like to revel in Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) on your device along with Roku, Apple TV, Samsung TV, or other Smart TVs?

PBS is an inexpensive streaming tool offering hundreds of thousands of videos online for free and on-demand, such as full episodes of Masterpiece, Frontline, NOVA, Antiques Roadshow and more. Channels and channel bundles are often very affordable; our channels are unfastened, and priced channels also offer a free trial that you can use.

Exclusive benefits:

  • Access antique and conventional TV series as well as a range of featured programs
  • Access local shows using an easy selection procedure from the affiliate station listings
  • Benefit from staff picks and suggestions from PBS
  • Content on PBS is continuously renewed
  • Expiry dates of specific series and programs can be found under the ‘Expiring Soon’ class
  • Be aware of program and community updates through email, as well as fund-raising initiatives

Activate PBS Using PBS.org in Three Simple Steps

  1. Open the PBS application on your device.
    Once you open the PBS application on your device, it will provide you with a 6-digit alphanumeric code that you need to enter on the PBS website. Make a note of this and proceed to activate it on the website.
  2. Activate PBS.
    Open your browser to the PBS activation website. You will be navigated to a webpage which will ask you for the 6-digit code. Enter the code and click ‘continue’.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to activate PBS.
    After you have inputted the 6-digit code, PBS subscription will be activated on your device. If there is an error with the activation process, please follow the on-screen instructions to fix it.

How to Connect to PBS.org on a Smart TV

  1. Open PBS on your Smart TV
  2. Click on the gear icon
  3. Tap ‘sign-in’ to access your activation code
  4. Go to the website pbs.org/activate
  5. Click ‘account information’ to sign in to your pbs.org account
  6. Enter your activation code and continue

PBS Kids is free for all Roku users: all you need to do is to activate PBS on your device via pbs.org/activate using the following steps. Using a compatible device alongside a PBS account will free up all movies.

Smartphones Help UB Researcher Better Understand the Nature of Depression and Anxiety

Decades of research into anxiety and depression have resulted in the development of models that help explain the causes and dimensions of the two disorders.

For all of their well-established utility however, these models measure differences between individuals and are derived from studies designed using few assessments that can be months or even years apart.

In other words, the models are highly informative, but not optimal for examining what’s happening emotionally in a particular person from moment to moment.

Now, a University at Buffalo psychologist is extending that valuable research to repeatedly and frequently measure symptoms of specific individuals, in real time, to learn how immediate feelings relate to later symptoms.

The research casts anxiety and depression in a manner not previously studied and the results suggest that some emotions linger in a way that predicts feelings beyond what’s happening at specific times. This information could provide treatment benefits for patients struggling with the disorders, according to Kristin Gainey, an assistant professor in UB’s psychology department and the study’s author.

“Clinicians aren’t primarily interested in how one person’s symptoms compare to someone else, which is what most studies focus on. Rather, they’re most interested in how to shift the feelings of someone with anxiety or depression. In other words, they want to understand how to change the emotional experiences of a given individual over time and across different situations,” says Gainey, an expert on emotion and affect in mood and anxiety disorders and a recent recipient of one of the American Psychological Association’s Early Career Distinguished Scientific awards. “The only way to get at that directly is to measure these processes repeatedly within a person as they’re happening.”

To do that, Gainey conducted baseline assessments on 135 participants, each of whom were already seeking some kind of psychological treatment.

Three times a day for 10 weeks, the participants received surveys on their smartphones about their feelings and symptoms. They completed the survey within 20 minutes of its arrival.

“That generated enough reports to provide a good sense for each person’s fluctuations and trajectories of symptoms and affect (defined as the objective feeling state that’s part of an emotion),” says Gainey.

A smartphone provides a portrait of immediacy that questionnaires distributed in a lab that summarize feelings over extended periods are unable to achieve.

“We can’t always remember accurately how we felt days and weeks ago, especially if there were some days you felt really bad and other days you felt great,” she says. “That’s not easy to summarize in a single index.”

Anxiety and depression are each unique disorders, but they often appear together in a single patient. Both disorders share high levels of negative emotions, such as fear, sadness, and anger, while low levels of positive emotions, like excitement and interest, are unique to depression.

Gainey says it’s not surprising that particular affective states, like feeling happy or feeling sad, might be responsible for symptoms experienced soon afterward. What researchers don’t know much about is how long those effects tend to persist, and which specific symptoms they lead to hours or days later.

“This study let us see that some effects were short-lived, but for depression, if you were feeling high levels of negative affect, even if we control for how depressed a participant was at that time, it was still predictive of increased depression 24 hours later,” says Gainey.

That might suggest that clinicians could track peoples’ positive and negative affect in real time and plot trajectories that are indicative of increased risk.

“If we can identify specific risk factors for increased symptoms in real time, we could even use smartphones to send suggestions about helpful strategies or alert the person’s mental health care provider,” she says.

Enhancing Education with Digital Tools in the Classroom

Especially now, with the rise of technology in the classroom, teachers have practically unlimited methods for teaching, assigning, and grading student work. Features within forums such as Google Classroom, Flocabulary, Read180 Universal, PowToon, NewsELA, etc., allow for student choice, engagement, and differentiation. While the options and methods are seemingly unlimited, there are a few things to consider when it comes to utilizing classroom technology effectively.  

To ensure that the digital classroom is an asset, instead of an obstacle, for students and parents, educators will want to address the following concerns before planning and implementing:

Is the technology adding to the student’s understanding of the material, or is it simply technology for technology’s sake?

If teachers cannot readily identify how the digital tool is adding a layer of complexity, relevance, choice, or differentiation, then the tool may be better utilized for another task. What we do not want is for the learning to be secondary to the digital forum. For example, if students are using PowToon or Prezi for an assignment, then the objective should be something related to summarizing, paraphrasing, simulating cause and effect, etc., since those are skills that the digital tools support. Those two particular digital tools are more geared towards public speaking or presenting, so an objective for speaking and listening should be a component, as well.

How much scaffolding or frontloading will the technology involve?

As teachers, we know that time is limited, as we are constantly moving students from one skill to the next. A worst-case scenario would be for the digital tool to become a “time-suck” in the unit. More than anything, the technology should be comprehensive and user-friendly, so that it does not become an obstacle for students to demonstrate mastery.

How much of the student’s grade will be determined by the proper use of the technology?

Again, if the objective is for students to relay research that they have gathered in a focused and organized way, then the technology feature is simply a small aspect of that task. Consequently, if the objective is for students to construct a timeline of a story and present the animation, then the technology becomes more of a vital component.

Can the use of the digital tool be optional?

Another recommendation when considering student choice is to provide the option to not use the technology to demonstrate mastery. For some students, technology can be scary because of their unfamiliarity with it. For others, computer or internet access at home may not be a possibility. Teachers should be wary of only using digital creations or submissions, as this would mean that some students can only work on an assignment or project in the classroom—not at home.

Are my digital posts, grades, and assignments easy to access and displayed clearly?

When using a digital classroom like Google Classroom, teachers should be sure to make their digital forum as accessible and transparent as possible. At open house or parent conferences, teachers should consider inviting parents to sign up to the virtual classroom. This provides parents with their own means of logging into and monitoring the virtual classroom. Guardian access also allows parents to set email alerts anytime a new announcement, assignment, or grade is posted.

This means that parents receive notifications in real time, as opposed to having to wait for their child to bring home the new assignment or rubric. Guardian access also allows teachers to post entire lessons, documents, and reading to the classroom. This type of transparency provides parents with a peek inside the day’s activities and lessons. With documents posted, there will also be a backup option for parents if their child has lost or forgotten the paper copy.

SWHELPER Announces Its Second Annual Global Social Welfare Digital Summit

On March 19th thru March 22nd, SWHELPER will be hosting the Global Social Welfare Digital Summit which is an all online digital conference. You can attend the conference from any place in the world with an internet connection. The conference themes will focus on advocacy, trauma-informed care, self-care and healing, and solutions.

Are you feeling unmotivated or uninspired? Maybe you need some professional nourishment to broaden your perspective or add tools to your toolbox for future career growth. The Global Social Welfare Digital Summit aims to extend learning to a global classroom by allowing you to connect with helping professionals around the world. Additionally, you may be eligible for up 10 continuing education credits (CEUs).

Early Bird Tickets went on sale January 1st at 50% off the regular price. The Four Day Education Pass regularly $55 is available at $25. For government employees, the four day pass is $49 and $69 for private and nonprofit. All passes come with 1 year access to view all the sessions on your schedule.

Click here and Use coupon code 4DAYSWH to get an additional 10% off of early bird pricing. Early Bird pricing ends February 8th, 2019. You can also view the session agenda before purchasing your ticket.

Some of the presentations include:

  • Twitter – Jerrel Peterson, MSW: From Micro to Macro Leveraging Research, Data, and Ethics for Social Impact
  • Facebook – Avani Parehk: Tech and Movement Building…How to Hold Space in the Digital Age
  • USC – Melissa Singh: Trauma Informed Interview Coaching for Global Environments
  • Columbia University – Matthea Marquart: Helping the Helpers Online Self-Care Technique

Some of our sponsors include the International of Association for Schools of Social Work, International Council for Social Work, Network for Social Work Managers, and the National Organization for Human Services.

For more information visit, https://www.globalsocialwelfaresummit.com.

10 Ways to Diversify Your Social Work Income in 2019

Social Work is not a high-paid profession; we all know this and we didn’t get into this field because we want to become rich. But, if we can’t be comfortable taking care of our own financial commitments, we won’t be in the position to give ourselves fully to our clients when they need us, whether we’re providing case management, intensive counselling/therapy, or community advocacy.

The answer is for Social Workers to diversify their income streams. This is something lawyers, doctors, and other professionals learned years ago but that Social Workers are still struggling with. It sometimes seems antithetical to our mission to make money for ourselves – but there are ways to generate revenue while also providing value to our clients.

With the new year almost upon us, here are 10 ways you can diversify your income in 2019:

1. Open a Private Practice

The classic private practice is still an option. Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) can bill Medicare in all 50 states.  For those who decide not to take insurance or to take self-pay clients, you can often charge north of $100 an hour for counselling or therapy – especially if you have a well-developed niche like working with bereavement, with men or with those who have HIV/AIDS.

To save money when starting out you may choose to use a home office, or even to see clients virtually via Skype. This can make therapy more accessible to your clients, but make sure you check with your licensing board first to avoid any issues with confidentiality.

2. Start Writing

It’s been said we all have a book inside of us, and you may too. But you don’t have to write a full book to make money with your writing. Launching a blog and monetizing it using Google Adsense or the Amazon Affiliate program can help you build your professional brand and demonstrate your expertise while generating you money for every click on your ads.

To get started, you can create a blog using the free WordPress.com platform, and then consider seeking out technical assistance to move your blog to its own domain and hosting to help you expand your audience.

3. Join a Speakers Bureau

A Speakers Bureau is an organization keeping a roster of speakers on contract so you can deliver keynote speeches or other talks for a fee. The Speakers Bureau helps connect the client and the speaker (yourself) together and negotiates a speaking fee you get paid. The Speakers Bureau takes a cut in exchange for the representation and you get the promotion.

If you don’t have the popularity, name recognition, or specific niche skills to join a Speakers Bureau yet, do some networking and reach out to conferences and other organizations proactively to get yourself some initial speaking engagements. If you’re lucky, some new business will come via word-of-mouth.

4. Create Mobile Phone Apps

This is the most technical of the answers here – but surprisingly not as difficult as you might think. Social Workers have a wealth of knowledge on mental health which they can apply towards creating apps that don’t exist yet to help people.

These can be targeted at professionals in the field, for example:

  • An app allowing you to complete risk assessments on a tablet and allows the information to be exported
  • A Social Worker’s Legal Reference with information on the laws relevant to child protection, suicide intervention and other laws relevant to Social Work in your state
  • A digital study guide helping social workers in training prepare for their licensure exam

Or targeted at clients:

  • A guided meditation app which helps clients calm down when they feel stressed
  • A digital crisis plan clients can complete and then refer to when they’re having trouble coping
  • A guide to local resources in your community like crisis lines, mental health agencies, and hospitals

These are highly complex topics. You can read up on the Swift programming language (used for Apple devices) or the Java programming language (for Android devices) or join up with a skilled programmer who lacks your specialized mental health knowledge.

5. Develop a Subscription Service

A subscription service is one way to help current or future clients to receive support. By paying you a small monthly fee, they can get check-ins with you on a regular basis between appointments. If they’re struggling, you can help connect them to crisis lines or other supports. For people who haven’t yet become clients, this may offer them an opportunity to build a relationship with you as they consider whether to book an appointment.

6. Launch an Online Course

Social Workers have skills in many areas which they can turn into online courses to teach others. For example, successful online courses have been launched teaching people how to have better relationships with their spouses or children, how to avoid getting angry or upset, and how to stay cool under pressure in a challenging workplace.

Providers like Udemy can help you build your course in exchange for a small fee taken out of each purchase.

7. Teach at Night

Universities and colleges frequently hire Masters or Doctoral-level Social Workers to teach classes as an Adjunct Professor. This can help you generate revenue but also to give back to the next generation and share what you’ve learned during the course of your practice.

8. Train Other Professionals

In addition to teaching in a school environment, you can make money by becoming an instructor for training programs. For $500 you can get certified to teach the Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Gatekeeper Course in suicide, while for $2,500 you can get Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) Training-for-Trainers (T4T) certified.

As a trainer, you can make between several hundred and several thousand dollars in a weekend leading a training course on a subject which you’re passionate about.

9. Become a Consultant

If you have an area of specialized knowledge such as program evaluation, fundraising, or experience building a nonprofit from the ground up then you may choose to become a nonprofit consultant. By helping clients avoid the same pitfalls you may have experienced yourself, you give them a great return on their investment.

Consultants also facilitate Strategic Planning sessions or Board of Directors Training and this may be an option for yourself as well.

10. Build a Video Library

If you don’t like to write but you do want to get your message out there – consider building a video library on YouTube. These videos, when you have a high-enough following, can be monetized and you’ll get ad revenue before each video plays.

Conclusion

There are a lot of ways Social Workers and other helping professions can use their experience and training to help others while also diversifying your own revenue and helping to build your personal brand. It’s important that you focus on the elements that make the most sense for your passions and level of technical expertise but also which makes sense with your desired client-base. Good luck!

Using Your Expertise to Develop Training Programs

Did you know that as a Social Worker, Social Service Worker, or other Paraprofessional that you have knowledge valuable outside of your day job? It’s true! Social workers often learn a variety of transferable skills that are in demand in the corporate world and among other nonprofits, and with a little know-how, you can leverage that training to improve your own income.

As a program manager working on a crisis line, I had the opportunity to build evaluation programs and write outcome reports that demonstrated the value of that service – as well as train others to do this. It turns out, there are a lot of people out there who would like to brush up on their statistics, data analysis, and evaluation skills. If you have these skills, you can do training sessions ranging from 45 minutes “Lunch and Learns”, all the way up to full day sessions.

Train-the-Trainer

As the Online Text and Chat (ONTX) Facilitator at Distress and Crisis Ontario, I trained the program managers who went back to their agencies and trained volunteers to provide crisis intervention through their computer and over the phone.

You can build a Train-the-Trainer program too if you have in-demand skills. For example, as an organization working with women exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV), you may develop a training program for your volunteers that focuses on communication skills, advocacy skills, working with women in crisis, and defusing conflict. You can package that training and use it to help train people who want to launch their own IPV organization in a part of the state or country that doesn’t have one.

The QPR Institute has a Train-the-Trainer (T4T) for their QPR Suicide Awareness Program. The T4T costs $500 and allows you to charge participants about $20 each for the 2-hour training. LivingWorks safeTALK T4T costs $1000 and allows you to charge participants about $50 each for the 3-hour training, while LivingWorks Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) costs $2500 – but allows you to charge $100-300 per participant.

E-Learning

E-Learning is an under-used training technique in the nonprofit world, and that can be to your benefit as well. Record yourself delivering a training session and sell access on a subscription or one-time basis. Your content will be mostly “evergreen” meaning you don’t need to update the sessions that frequently, but you can continue to bring in subscribers or new users. Offer a certificate of completion for those who complete a quiz or test at the end, and build a library.

Virtually any training you want to deliver in person can be delivered in an e-learning format – if not via an asynchronous format (where someone logs in and watches videos), then in a digital classroom environment.

Moodle is one of the most common free e-learning platforms, but requires a fair amount of technical know-how. On the other hand, WordPress (a blogging platform) is a lot easier to set up and can be modified with “plugins” to add membership, subscription, and other features necessary to build an e-learning program. If you’re someone with knowledge of these programs (like me) you can also do training on how to set up training programs!

Custom Training

Finally, you can develop your own custom training for corporations and other nonprofits. Distress Centre Ottawa conducts training sessions on communication skills and delivers them to the many government agencies in that area.

As a Social Worker, you can develop your own training. Example topics could include:

  • Having Difficult Conversations
  • Crisis Intervention for non-Social Workers
  • Building Rapport for Salespeople

Conclusion

Do you facilitate your own training? Whether or not you work in private practice, consider it as a way to expand your skills, improve the capacity of local nonprofits and your community, and to continue networking.

How the Internet and Social Media Is Impacting Social Work

Social media and the Internet, in general, have had an immense effect on social work. It enables communication between people from different corners of the world and makes access to information fast and easy. On the flipside, social media has brought about evils like fake news and Cyber Bullying whose effects can be fatal. But how exactly has what is possibly the most significant invention of the 21st century affected the field of social work? Below is a look at both the positive and negative impacts of social media.

Positive impacts

Enhanced Communication

Social media has significantly improved the communication experience between social workers and their clients. Social networks such as Facebook and WhatsApp make it easier, cheaper and faster for social workers to get in touch with clients without necessarily spending money on transport. In addition to this, most social workers have social media pages where interested clients can contact them and book appointments without breaking a sweat.

Globalization of social work

Decades ago, social workers could only deal with issues affecting their neighboring communities. Now, with social sites like Skype and Facebook Messenger, it is possible for a counselor in the USA to offer their services to a client in Europe or Africa without either of them incurring massive expenditure.

Easier solicitation of clients

As mentioned earlier, social workers can attract more clients by opening social media pages and regularly updating content. As it were, there are numerous resources available to social workers who want to establish and grow their online presence such as using video to increase engagement on social media. On their part, clients can search for available social workers and be able to receive services such as spiritual, psychiatrist and anxiety counseling online even without revealing their identities.

Negative Impacts

Ethical dilemmas

Social workers who have direct contact with their clients on social media face a lot of moral issues in their work. For one, being friends on Facebook may result in both consensual and unwanted flirting which may lead to a sexual relationship. This often leads to conflicts of interest which might affect the social worker’s efficiency.

Privacy and confidentiality

In the past, social workers relied on the personal information provided by their clients when designing interventions. With social media, social workers like counselors and psychiatrists may be tempted to spy on their clients’ social media pages to fish for information. This amounts to an invasion of privacy, which is not only an ethical issue but a legal issue as well.

Social workers may also find themselves in awkward situations when, for instance, clients send them friend requests on Facebook and start chatting them up. There is also the risk of clients stalking social workers and using the information and pictures on their pages for unprofessional purposes.

Regulatory challenges

Social work remains mostly an unregulated field, and the increasing social media usage doesn’t make it any better. On one side, regulatory bodies may find it difficult to regulate online social workers who may not have a physical office or address for that matter.

This is made even worse by the fact that there is no existing regulatory framework for online social work. Clients, on the other hand, may also not be in a position to verify the registration and regulatory status of their social workers especially if they’re not from the same country.

Dealing with unregulated social workers exposes one to dangers such as sexual harassment and even fraud.

Way forward

Social work has a lot of challenges as it is and social media, despite being a significant opportunity, happens to be one of them. As government agencies find ways to regulate online social work, both the public and social workers must look out for themselves and find ways to protect their confidentiality.

Virtual Crisis Intervention: Wave of the Future?

Crisis intervention, once primarily delivered over the phone is increasingly being delivered through the computer and via text. Social Workers and other helping professionals need to be aware of the benefits and drawbacks of these methods of communication. Whether you work for an employer who may allow or require you to begin using these technologies or you are in private practice, learning more about text and chat for crisis intervention can enhance your practice.

Who uses text and chat?

Adults still primarily prefer to use the telephone or in-person communication to get their mental health needs met. In one large Canadian crisis service (the ONTX Project), the majority of the contacts via text message come from youth, while the majority of the computer chats come from adults.

LGBT youth – especially trans youth, may be more likely to use text and chat services because they don’t have to worry about “passing” or blending, being recognized as the gender they identify as. Via text and chat messaging there is no need to fear being mis-gendered if a client identifies as a woman but has a deep voice, for example.

How is it different from other forms of support?

Text and chat communications are slower, sometimes much slower. This means that it will take you more time to collect the same amount of information. Expect a 20 minute phone call to take closer to an hour with text and chat.

Because this method of communication is more resource intensive, you will need to carefully manage the conversation. Youth especially can talk for hours via text if they are given the option, but your therapeutic boundaries and agency policy may not permit you to engage them this long. Making an action plan to meet their immediate needs and inviting them to access the service again another time can be very helpful.

You can’t demonstrate empathy with your voice tone (obviously), so you have to be very careful to write out your empathic statements. “From what you’ve said, I really get the feeling that you felt alone.” This helps ensure that your client really feels heard.

Suicide risk assessment via text and chat

Suicide risk assessment is a more challenging task over text and chat. It’s important to make sure you firmly ask if the texter has done anything to kill themselves or end their life as soon as you determine they are suicidal. If they have, you can jump right to the active rescue procedure. You may need to adjust how you ask questions about suicide in order to fit them into 140 character limits some services have.

Accessing emergency services

This is one area that is significantly different. A lot of crisis agencies have close relationships to the police and EMS can trace phones in cases of imminent risk. On the computer though, this is a lot more difficult or even impossible. You will need to rely on your ability to build a strong rapport in order to convince your client to access active rescue.

Many texting services do not allow clients to hide their number from you, which is different from telephone services where you can block your phone number from the responding hotline worker. This can make identifying texters at imminent risk somewhat easier.

How can you build text and chat skills?

If you don’t currently have the opportunity to perform crisis intervention over text and chat through your employer, consider the ONTX Project in Canada or the Crisis Text Line in the US. These organizations allow you to volunteer to staff a web and text crisis line through the Internet, and volunteer virtually. After completing training, you’re able to volunteer between 4 and 16 hours a month for a year to help you add these valuable skills to your resume and improve your ability to serve your clients.

Will text and chat replace in-person counselling or therapy?

Some proponents of e-counselling think that text or chat will replace telephone helpline services for immediate support, but this is unlikely. Text and chat is a great introduction to helping support, but clients likely won’t be able to get all their needs met in this manner. Once they’re comfortable, you may find it more helpful to transition them to telephone or in-person support at your agency.

Why Efforts to Hire and Maintain the Best Staff Can Be Critical for Nonprofits

While a well-seasoned and dedicated staff can be a terrific resource for any business, hiring the right professional to fill a position can be an even more important concern for nonprofits. Lacking the funds and additional resources of their commercial counterparts and competitors can place many nonprofits at a distinct disadvantage. By addressing the issues and specific problems that those employed by a nonprofit are most likely to encounter, employers may be able to minimize turnover and transform their existing staff into their greatest asset. Drive, Dedication and Vision Professionals whose ambition only extends to themselves can a major liability for nonprofits. Without the need to build value for their shareholders, nonprofit organizations must rely on their staff to provide them with the vision and drive they need to be effective. Pairing workers who are dedicated to an idea that is greater than themselves with an organization able to provide them with the agency needed to make a difference can be of paramount importance, especially for nonprofits who have suffered from lackluster performance or that may have begun to stagnate. Generating Momentum and Inertia Internally

Employees, workers and professional associates who are able to generate the momentum needed to enact real and lasting change are often the heart of any successful nonprofit. The conventional business models that are so often utilized by commercial businesses place often place the bulk of their focus on the mid and upper-level managers and supervisors who are tasked with creating and implementing new policies. Nonprofits stand to benefit by shifting their focus to the workers who do the actual heavy lifting and who take on the more mundane day to day tasks. Dedicated workers can provide their employers and organizations with the momentum and inertia they need in order to continue operating effectively.

Going the Extra Mile Finding employees who are willing to go the extra mile can be a difficult proposition for any organization that lacks the funds and financial resources needed to provide a more competitive salary. Individuals who are committed to reaching loftier goals or unlocking their full professional for reasons that extend beyond mere financial reward are not a resource that nonprofits can afford to take lightly. A little extra effort is often the missing component when it comes to finding solutions to a stubborn problem or overcoming an obstacle that might otherwise end up limiting other opportunities and future success. Workers who are determined to keep their organization going and employers who need their employees to give it their all both need to understand the value of going the extra mile. Optimizing Existing Resources Having to make due with shortages of finances and other key resources is often a concern that is all too familiar to many nonprofit organizations. While boosting efficiency and finding ways to curb waste can help commercial organizations to enjoy greater profitability, such efforts are often essential for ensuring the very survival of a nonprofit. Whether it’s finding the best accounting software for nonprofits in order to ensure more accurate bookkeeping or identifying the ways in which financial resources may be best utilized, making the most of their existing resources is a concern that organizations would do well to prioritize. Long-term Success Begins During the Hiring Process A nonprofit is only as good as its employees and being able to identify the right fit or a good match often means a great deal. For employers, educating prospective employees and applicants regarding the nature of nonprofit work is often a smart move. Applicants, candidates and even unpaid volunteers who wish to see their organization succeed need to recognize that their passion, aspiration and drive can often be just as important as any skills or expertise they may bring to the table. Cultivating the right staff and making the most out of their existing employees can allow organizations to more easily overcome the obstacles created due to limited funds and resource scarcity.

Three Mobile Marketing Strategies to Raise Awareness

Today, mobile marketing is one of the most powerful forms of digital marketing. Social media, email and video marketing are other channels for digital marketing, but none of them is quite as efficient as mobile marketing. Mobile marketing entails providing mobile phone users with personalized info which promotes goods and services.

It has an extensive reach. Billions of people around the world actively use mobile devices. The audience is there to be harnessed. With mobile marketing, you can send time sensitive information and personalized deals via push notifications, mobile applications, text messages, QR codes, Bluetooth, and multimedia messages.

Mobile marketing can be vital for enhancing brand loyalty. It also increases the chances of gaining new customers while simultaneously making sure that existing ones return to patronize your business.

Like other forms of digital marketing, there are various mobile marketing strategies out there. The trick is to choose an approach that works with your audience; an approach that increases brand engagement, awareness, and customer participation.

Below is a list of mobile marketing strategies that are guaranteed to drive up engagement rates and conversions for your business:

Make the best use of micro-moments

Micro-moments is a term coined by Google. It primarily refers to moments in time when people use their phones to get advice or information. The unprecedented accessibility to the world wide web mobile devices grant conditions many users to seek immediate answers, as quickly as possible, preferably without extraneous data. Extraneous data includes charts, PDF files, and graphs.

There are four major micro-moments you should take advantage of repeatedly. They are:

  • “I want to know” moments, e.g., “Who invented the mobile phone?”
  • “I want to go” moments, e.g., “Where can I see a movie?”
  • “I want to do” moments, e.g., “How do I upgrade my personal computer?”
  • “I want to buy” moments, e.g., “Buy Samsung Galaxy S9.”

Optimizing these micro-moments can make all the difference for your business.

You have to research and anticipate the most common searches and needs of your target audience. The next step is to go on to create actionable content that addresses those needs.

Take proper care to make sure that your content is straight to the point.

Mobile marketing truly shines when you promote your brand while providing answers to these micro-moments.

Take for example a clothing company. While answering a query about tying a necktie knot, you could provide a hyperlink to a page on your website with a collection of ties for sale.

You can also get creative by including suggestions and information about shopping deals and discounts as a part of your content. Just makes sure that you include these links and deals without compromising the brevity and quality of the information you are providing.

Use QR codes to improve user experience

Most mobile phone users are now aware of the fact that scanning QR codes with smartphones is an accessible source of information. A considerable percentage of shoppers have confessed to using smartphones to scan QR codes to compare prices.

Use QR codes to provide a seamless information to your target audience.

Remember that everyone wants information as quickly and as directly as possible. When scanned, your QR codes should lead directly to a specific, valuable and useful information. View them as a shortcut for your customer base to get the answers they need.

Make sure that your QR codes do one of the following:

  • Take users to a page with detailed information about a product
  • Offer users deals, promos, or a coupon
  • Allow users to follow your brand on social media.

Utilize SMS to connect with your customers quickly and on the go

According to statistics gleaned from Venture Beat, the open rate for promotions and campaigns sent via text messages is 98%. This represents the highest open rate among the available forms of digital marketing.

On the other hand, the number of mobile coupons users is projected to reach 1.05 billion by 2019. Text messages are a great way to engage with your customers by offering special deals and personalized promotions, among other things.

Since text messages are almost always opened, you must make sure that your customers are ready to add their numbers to your messaging lists.

You can do this by offering compensation in the form of discounts for customers that sign up with their phone numbers. Furthermore, you can use text messages to publicize sales, send reminders for appointment-based businesses, conduct customer surveys, and check up on reluctant customers.

There are many other ways mobile marketing can empower a brand and increase its reach, but the strategies listed above are tested and work admirably if incorporated accurately.

Study your audience, understand their needs and play the strengths of your brand through some inobrtusive, yet engaging mobile marketing.

A Growing Interest in Food and How Our Food Culture is Changing

People have always loved food. It’s tasty, it’s an enjoyable thing to share with friends and family, and of course, we simply need it to survive. However, in the past couple of decades, our love affair with food seems to have grown quite a bit. Gone are the days when meat and potatoes were considered a square meal, at least in many social circles. People are finally beginning to examine the effects diet has on health and well-being, and this change can’t happen quickly enough.

Some states are beginning to see a decline in obesity rates, but there is still plenty of work to do if we want a healthy, thriving society. People are also getting more interested in food in general. Not everyone is on a mission to get healthy. Some simply want to capitalize on a growing demand for chefs. Culinary schools are expanding to meet with rising enrollment numbers as people choose food-based careers or simply decide to educate themselves so they can prepare food at home.

1. A Healthier Lifestyle

Research from the Organic Trade Association found that Americans are buying more organic products than ever before. Concerns about health and the environment have led to more people choosing organic. The economy is all about supply and demand, so this rising call for more organic items has led to a number of new businesses, including Thrive Market, an online resource offering hundreds of organic and all-natural items at an affordable price.

Aside from the organic factor, there are other reasons Americans are becoming more interested in bettering their health through food. To put it simply, many people are growing sick and tired of being sick and tired. In recent years, alternative diets and lifestyles have begun rising in popularity, including veganism, paleo and gluten-free.

As buzz surrounding these diets grows, people find reasons to believe that they can empower themselves through an alternative lifestyle. In turn, this leads to more alternative products appearing on store shelves, which leads to a greater awareness and so on. Therefore, by making smart choices with the foods they buy, people are actually having a positive influence on society as a whole.

2. Food-based Media

Cooking shows have been around for decades, but in the past twenty years, they’ve really begun growing in popularity. From televised contests for home cooks to lavish competitions featuring some of America’s finest professional chefs, there’s no shortage of food-related entertainment to enjoy. Perhaps this factor has contributed to America’s growing foodie culture.

3. A Difficult Economy Means More People are Cooking at Home

As people struggle in a difficult economy, they are beginning to look for ways to save money. Therefore, cooking meals at home rather than eating out is becoming increasingly more popular. Research from Peapod and ORC International shows that 72 percent of Americans cook from home four or more nights each week, and more than a third made a resolution to cook more in 2017. It was also found that millennials were more than twice as likely to make this resolution than older folks. But, it’s no secret that millennials are struggling financially and eating out can be really expensive.

However, the world has changed since the baby boomers were young, and these changes are likely to stick around. Therefore, it can be assumed that cooking skills will be important for today’s young people as well as future generations to come.

If you’re developing an interest in food, you’re on the right track to a healthier life. Even if nutrition isn’t your main motivation, you’ll still have a deeper connection to what’s on your plate if you go through the process of cooking it yourself. That connection can make every meal a more mindful experience, which is precisely what the act of eating should be. You’ll also be able to track your caloric intake much easier if you’re aware of every ingredient, giving you a better chance of staying at a healthy weight.

Top Apps and Tools Recommended for Every Entrepreneur

Running a small business takes a lot of work. Today there’s technology that will help you with this. This technology won’t only help you stay on top of what you’re doing but it will also help you free up time so you’re not always chained to your office.

Accounting and Expenses

One of the most important parts of your business has to do with accounting and expenses. When you don’t properly manage this area of your business you probably won’t be in business for long. Although you can clearly see how this could take up a lot of your time, PC Mag says it doesn’t have to be this way. Some apps that will help you stay in control in less time include:

NetSuite OneWorld is a completely scalable enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that helps you manage expense reports, purchase orders, business dashboards, and security records. Many business owners have made this their one-stop shop for managing their business when they’re away from their computer.

Acumatica is a general ledger accounting software. This is a browser-based tool that lets you access your accounting data from any device that has an internet connection – including a downloadable iOS or Android app. You can enter time cards, run expense reports, and enter purchase orders from the app.

Expensify is an expense report software for use on your mobile device. With its app, you can upload receipts through OCR SmartScan. It does a great job at accurately processing scanned data, which will save you and your employees time when it comes to inputting and processing expenses.

Tsheets is a mobile app that lets you clock in or out and track time even if you don’t have cell coverage. As a manager, you can clock team members individually or all at the same time. You can also see who’s at work and where they’re working from. Additionally, you can create, edit, and publish scheduled jobs or shifts, automate timesheet alerts, and track paid time off, sick days, and holidays.

QuickBooks is still a solid accounting tool that will help you track and manage your finances. While the app isn’t a fully featured, mobile version of the desktop application it still lets you track sales, send out invoices, and review recent payments while away from the office.

Collaboration and Communication

There are some other great communication and collaboration tools you should also check out. These include:

SurveyMonkey lets you see what’s going on with your customers and employees – something that’s crucial for a business of any size today. Simply create a survey that people can create and participate in from their mobile device. You can then analyze the data from your mobile device once the poll ends.

MailChimp is very helpful when it comes to email marketing, which is a 24/7 job. They’re on suite tools make it easy for you to launch a campaign from your mobile device. All it takes is a few taps and you can recreate the same campaign that you would have created from your desktop. From there you can also monitor the campaign’s progress, edit subscriber profiles, and run multivariate reports.

HubSpot is a marketing automation tool that provides you with a robust iOS and Android app. From there you can manage contacts between your marketing, sales, and service teams while on the go. You can also monitor leads as they move through your sales funnel, communicate with partners who are members of other teams and evaluate campaign metrics to decide if you need to make any wholesale changes.

Evernote Scannable is a great mobile scanning app that quickly and automatically scans business cards, documents, meeting notes, and other files for you. It also connects to LinkedIn and offers you a great text-parsing tool so that you can clean up any docs that turn out jumbled.

UberConference for online meetings. Another important area of your business lies in communicating with your customers and collaborating with your employees. It’s a solid video conferencing app that allows you to meet remotely with employees and clients. The platform is flexible, allowing you to connect with users on any device. This is a great way to virtually drop into a staff meeting while you’re away from the office.

Business Management

Although collaboration, communication, and accounting lie at the heart of your business, there are other important work-related tasks you can probably think of as well. There are some business management tools that are helpful here, including:

Salesforce Sales Cloud Professional is a CRM software tool that gives you access to customer and sales data. You can then use this data to improve your business’ operations. This comprehensive and flexible platform helps you stay in step with your competition. Business News Daily also points out that there’s a free extension that you can add on to this app. It encompasses your service’s Chatter, CRM, apps, and processes within your Android smartphone. This allows you to customize these apps so that they’re more functional and you can stay up-to-date with any notifications and alerts.

Zoho CRM is just as functional as Salesforce, but it also ties in nicely with the rest of the Zoho software ecosystem – including your Zoho email, document management, and email marketing client.

Sprout Social offers you help in creating and maintaining a solid social media strategy. It also provides the best social media management and analytics tools that you can access directly from your mobile device without sacrificing any functionality. Through these apps, you can identify influencers, ideal moments for customer engagement, and have data that back all these things up.

HootSuite offers a mature, complete set of social media management and analytics tools in a nicely designed hub. This lets you conduct comprehensive monitoring, influencer identification, and publish to social media channels.

As you look through these tools, remember that your company is only as good as the tools it uses. With so many tools available, the selection process can become quite daunting. However, you can’t ignore the fact that you need these tools so your business can run 24/7 while you only work weekdays from 9 – 5.

Booking.com and Web Summit Expand Commitment to Women in Tech

Amsterdam, The Netherlands – 25 APRIL 2018 – Booking.com, one of the world’s largest travel e-commerce companies and a digital technology leader, announced a global partnership with Web Summit. Together they will host a dedicated ‘Women in Tech’ networking and mentoring program at the flagship Web Summit event, as well as initiatives at affiliated events Collison and RISE in 2018. This exclusive collaboration continues Booking.com and Web Summit’s efforts to redress the under-representation of women in technology by creating more opportunities for women to enter, advance and thrive in the sector.

Booking.com will host the first of a number of networking initiatives for women at the Booking.com Women in Tech lounge at Collision 2018, being held in New Orleans, USA, from April 30th-May 3rd, 2018. One of America’s leading technology conferences, Collison brings together CEOs of the world’s fastest growing startups and Fortune 500 companies, alongside leading investors and media. Booking.com CEO Gillian Tans will also participate in a panel on “Sustainability in Big Business”, sharing her insights on the role of major companies in furthering global sustainability and ethical practices.

Web Summit 2018, taking place in Lisbon, Portugal, from November 5th-8th, will be the focal point of the global partnership and will feature an expanded ‘Women in Tech Mentor Program’, following the success of the inaugural initiative at last year’s event. The Web Summit 2017 women’s mentoring program attracted nearly 200 participants, with 60 high-profile mentors from across the tech sector, including Gillian Tans and other Booking.com executives.

RISE 2018 will take place on 9th-12th July 2018 in Hong Kong and is the largest tech conference in Asia. The event attracts more than 15,000 attendees each year from over 100 countries. Booking.com will host the Women in Tech networking lounge at the event.

“We are excited to partner with Web Summit again this year to build on the strong demand and engagement we saw in 2017 and to continue our efforts in driving gender diversity in tech at a global level. Recent data suggests that 90% of women working in technology across the world have experienced gender bias in the workplace and this, coupled with the lack of mentors (48%) and female role models (42%), are the top three obstacles preventing women from choosing to advance their careers in tech,” said Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com.

“We are expanding our partnership with Web Summit with marquee events in Europe, North America and Asia to continue the conversations about gender diversity and to support women through mentoring and providing more opportunities for them to collaborate, network and share experiences. This global partnership will give us another platform to help pivot gender inequalities and gaps in the male-dominated tech workplace and encourage more women from across the world to become positive role models for others.”

Web Summit runs the world’s most highly regarded technology events which bring together world leaders, Fortune 500 companies, tech giants and groundbreaking startups to examine and celebrate the latest advances in technology.

Paddy Cosgrave, CEO and co-founder of Web Summit, said: “Web Summit run the most prominent technology events in the world and we are committed to driving a positive change in the industry. We launched our women in tech initiative three years ago to increase the number of women participating at our events around the world. This commitment to change resulted in a female/male gender ratio at Web Summit of 42% / 58% for the last two years.

“We are pleased to partner again with Booking.com to further this important cause and provide a platform for raising awareness about gender equality in the tech industry globally. The partnership with Booking.com will help us provide further opportunities for female tech talent attending our events to network with and learn from some of the most successful tech entrepreneurs in the industry today.”

iCloud Backup on iPhone and iPad – Discussing The Process and Its Many Advantages

Your iPhone and iPad might have cost you a fortune. In a manner, these are almost like prized possessions. However, leaving aside the financial aspect, you are more concerned with the idea of saving your precious memories stored in these expensive devices.

That’s where you look for a backup. Since your primary intention is more about protecting the events that you had captured on your iPhone and iPad. Moreover, there is also the potential risk of the devices getting stolen or damaged ( circumstances beyond your control).

If it comes to a point, where you are interested to restore an iCloud backup to iPhone, then surely you are free to go ahead. To a large extent, it appears to be a good move.

By having a backup of the data, you are just making sure that nothing goes wrong.

The Process of  Backing up Data on iPhone and iPad

iCloud backup, by and large, gives you the ability to restore the iOS-based devices( new &old) with considerable ease. In fact, with iCloud backup, transferring data from one iOS device to another is not really a problem.

However, it processes itself that in general confuses you. Since you are not quite sure about the whole procedure, restoring the iCloud backup to your iPhone or iPad might seem to be a difficult task.

Nevertheless, restoring the backup is not an impossible idea. In fact, it all boils down to following a set of steps, which do not take much of a time.

Even before making an attempt to look at the process, it makes a lot of sense to look at the possible advantages.

Advantages of Restoring iCloud Backup

  • Almost all the settings and account will be restored from the iCloud backup that you had selected.
  • Movies, books, shows, app and other content which you have purchased will be download automatically.
  • The iTunes Store, App Store long with iBook Store will be re-downloaded almost instantly.

The advantages listed above give a general glimpse of how restoring the backup to your iPhone and iPad can be beneficial.

Well, there is no set script that you have to follow. On the contrary, it is more about choosing the particular medium that will make it convenient for you to achieve the desired objective. What really matters, in the end, is the type of device you are using.

Restoring iCloud Backup on iPhone and iPad

The process described herein can be used to restore an iCloud backup data for a new iOS device as well as an existing one.

  1. To begin with, you have to make sure that your iOS version is up to date on the iPhone or iPad. From herein, you need to go to Settings>General and make sure to tap on the “ Software Update’ option. The iOS will now look for any new major update. In case, you come across any new update, download the same and install it.
  2. In order to proceed further, you have to make sure to have a recent iCloud backup. Now, access Settings> Enter your Apple ID>iCloud> Manage Storage. Under backups, all you are required to do is to select the particular device, after checking up the backup date along with the size, so as to confirm that it is recent.
  3. If for any reason, the backup is not new, you are then forced to manually restore the iCloud backup. Go to Settings> [ Insert your Apple ID]> iCloud > iCloud Backup. When you are almost done, hit the “Backup Now” button. Follow the on-screen instructions and allow the iCloud backup process to complete.
  4. As far as restoring the iCloud back up on a device that happens to be already in use, you are required to reset it to factory settings. Once you are done, Open Settings and proceed to General> Reset and tap on the option- Erase all content and settings. Allow the iOS to complete the processing of erasing the earlier settings.

By now, you have completed the first objective. Now, comes the most intriguing part. To set up the device from an iCloud backup, you have to follow the instructions, listed below.

How to Setup Device from an iCloud Backup?

  • To turn on your new device and reset an existing one,  you need to access the Home screen. Keep on following the directives, until and unless you see the option – Apps & Data.
  • On the Apps & Data tab, just make sure to tap on- Restore from iCloud Backup.
  • In order to access the iCloud backup, sign-in using your Apple ID and password. Depending on the preference, select the iCloud backup that you want to restore. This way, iCloud data start to download automatically. Remember, iOS might ask for your Apple ID, in order to download and install any specific app purchases.
  • The restore time is based on the backup size and your internet connectivity. Preferably, you can use a Wi-Fi connection, so as to let the downloading of iCloud data such as music, app, photos, videos and other documents.

When everything is done and dusted, the device restarts and starts downloading. In short, if you are trying to restore an iCloud backup to iPad or iPhone, the whole procedure takes time. But it’s worth the trouble you take. Ultimately, you are looking for a way to safeguard the precious data, for your own good.

In a way, you are trying to keep some of the cherished memories intact.

Study Finds Fringe Communities on Reddit and 4chan Have High Influence on Flow of Alternative News to Twitter

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Cyprus University of Technology and University College London have conducted the first large-scale measurement of how mainstream and alternative news flows through multiple social media platforms.

After analyzing millions of posts containing mainstream and alternative news shared on Twitter, Reddit and 4chan, Jeremy Blackburn, Ph.D., and collaborators found that fringe communities within 4chan, an image-based discussion forum where users are anonymous, and Reddit, a social news aggregator where users vote up or down on posts, have a surprisingly large influence on Twitter. The results of the study were published this week in a paper at the ACM Internet Measurement Conference in London.

“Based on our findings, these smaller, fringe communities on Reddit and 4chan serve as an incubation chamber for a lot of information,” said Blackburn, assistant professor of computer science in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences. “Many online hoaxes, false or misleading stories have been traced back to users on these platforms. The content and talking points are refined until they finally break free and make it to larger, more mainstream communities.”

The team gathered information from posts, threads and comments on Twitter, Reddit and 4chan that contained URLs from 45 mainstream and 54 alternative news websites. Activity on the three platforms was measured between June 20, 2016, and Feb. 28, 2017.

They analyzed more than 400,000 tweets, 1.8 million posts and comments on Reddit, and 97,000 posts and replies on 4chan. After analyzing the occurrence of 99 URLs on the top 20 mainstream and alternative news sites, they found Breitbart.com made up 55 percent of the URLs from six selected subreddits, and the nytimes.com made up 14 percent. Breitbart.com made up 44 percent of the URLs on Twitter, while theguardian.com made up 19 percent, and Breitbart.com made up 53 percent of the URLs, with theguardian.com making up 14 percent.

Using the unique URLs across all platforms and the time they first pop up, the team analyzed their appearance in one, two or three platforms, and the order in which the appearance occurred. Examination of the path of a URL reveals the domains whose URLs tend to appear first on each of the platforms.

Flow of Mainstream News

For the mainstream news domains, the group found that URLs from nytimes.com and cnn.com tend to appear first more often on Reddit than Twitter and 4chan. On the other hand, URLs from other domains like bbc.com and theguardian.com tend to appear first more often on Twitter than Reddit. There was no instance where mainstream news URLs tended to appear first on 4chan.

Flow of Alternative News  

The group found that breitbart.com URLs appear first in Reddit more often than on Twitter, and more frequently than they do on 4chan. However, for other popular alternative domains, such as infowars.com, rt.com and sputniknews.com, URLs appear first on Twitter more often than Reddit and 4chan. As is the case with the mainstream domains, there was no domain where 4chan dominates in terms of first URL appearance.

In addition to studying how news is shared on the three platforms, the researchers were able to estimate how much influence each platform has on the information shared on other platforms, using a mathematical technique knowns as Hawkes process.

The group measured the influence of six subreddits from Reddit.com, “The_Donald,” “politics,” “worldnews,” “AskReddit,” “conspiracy,” and “news,” the “/pol/” board on 4chan and the Twitter platform. They found that Twitter has a heavy influence on the posting of URLs from alternative news sites on the other social platforms, and is the most influential single source for most of the other web communities.

“These platforms have become an important piece of the modern information ecosystem,” Blackburn said. “As we continue to see the creation and spread of hoaxes, rumors and false information online, this knowledge is crucial to understand the risks associated with alternative news and to aid in designing appropriate detection and mitigation strategies.”

Blackburn is a co-founder of the International Data-driven Research for Advanced Modelling and Analysis Lab, or iDRAMA Lab, an international group of scientists focusing on modern socio-technical issues with expertise ranging from low-level cryptography to video games. The paper, “The Web Centipede: Understanding How Web Communities Influence Each Other Through the Lens of Mainstream and Alternative News Sources,” can be found here.

Cyber Safety for Today’s Teens

It goes without saying that technology has fully inserted itself into most aspects of our day-to-day lives—and children and teens are no exception. Children are learning to swipe smartphones before they learn to turn the pages of a book, and many of them are swiping on their own devices. For parents, the endless exploration of technology raises many concerns for children and teens.

Parents need not only be aware of what their children are getting from the constant connectivity, but also what they may be putting out into the digital universe. Yes, the horror stories surrounding teens and technology are vast and worrisome, but these hard-learned lessons can provide other families with safe cyber practices that will make all the difference for security and peace of mind.

Limit screen time, especially for youngsters. We may have grown to rely on our devices in the adult world. I, myself, use my phone for everything from navigation, to paying bills, to making grocery lists—the list (no pun intended) goes on and on. However, for children, it is essential their screen time be limited and purposeful. Use screen time as an occasional reward, but make sure that everyone is clear about how long they can use the device and for what purposes.

If you feel that your child must have a phone for staying in touch, consider phones or plans that provide programmed options for usage. For instance, there are ways to program children’s phones so that they are only able to call or text a set list of phone numbers. You can also set restrictions on how data is used or what websites or apps your children can access. The key here is to keep your children’s circle small when introducing them to their first phone—the stricter the parameters, the more peace of mind parents will have about children using technology.

Be aware of your child or teen’s social media presence. Keep a very watchful eye on your child’s use of social media and limit access to devices when concerns arise. You should insist on access to or control over your teen’s social media accounts whenever necessary. If you suspect that your child is cyberbullying or being cyberbullied, take the phone.

Keep records of any evidence that your child is being bullied, including text messages, screenshots, profile posts or photos, etc. Schools today are cracking down on bullying; however, parents must present documented, repeated instances of harassment or bullying before school officials will intervene.

Along the same lines as cyberbullying concerns, parents should monitor social media accounts to ensure that children are protecting themselves and being digitally responsible. Teens today are so concerned with obtaining “likes” and gaining “followers” that they lose sight of how vulnerable they may be making themselves online. Explain to them that, even with privacy settings, nothing is 100% private when it comes to posts, comments, photos, etc.

Make sure that teens are not using personal information, like a full name, specific address, current location, or school. Social media sites make it extremely easy to tag one’s location, but too often teens fail to consider who might be keeping tabs on their location. Gently, but firmly, remind your children that not everyone on social media is who they claim to be.

Talk about the permanency of our digital footprints. This means once posted online ownership no longer belongs to you. Even deleted material is not ever fully erased if even one person has captured, saved, or screenshotted the post.

Not only can deleted posts resurface, people can edit or manipulate the photo or post in any way they choose. Teach children and teens to think carefully before making a post.

9 Reasons Why Text Messaging is the Key to Efficient Communication in Social Services Agencies

Anyone who works in the social services industry has noticed a growing trend. The number of clients who request that you use “text messages” to reach them has skyrocketed.

Not email, not voicemail, but text messaging.

Seamless, effortless, and efficient communication is the key to success for both for you and for your clients. Without it…

  • Your clients don’t get the help and support they need.
  • Your organization’s very reason for “being” is compromised.
  • Funding from governments and other sources that is tied to performance metrics may be impacted.

But, why is text messaging the ideal communication channel for social services organizations?

There are 9 reasons…

1. Everyone has a cell phone.

Current data shows that 95% of Americans own a cell phone, with almost 80% of users owning a smartphone.

Only a tiny percentage of your client base does not have a mobile device, and that percentage is shrinking daily.

2. Everyone “texts.”

Because text messaging is such a simple, non-intimidating technology, its use is widespread across all demographics. Recent data from Pew Research Center breaks down text usage like so…

  • Age 18-29: 100% of people use text regularly.
  • Age 30-49: 98% of people use text regularly.
  • Age 50 and over: 90% of people use text regularly.

3. 99% of all texts are opened and read.

Send a text message, and within seconds, your contact’s phone is signalling its arrival, and shortly after that (no more than 3 minutes for the vast majority of messages), it is opened and read.

Unlike emails, which are often missed, or voicemails that are ignored, text messages boast an incredible “open rate.” That “open rate” exceeds 99%, according to a report commissioned by Single Point.

4. Texting is cheap (it’s almost always free).

For those down on their luck and under financial strain, text messaging is the most affordable way to communicate. Email requires either a smartphone or tablet and a data plan or regular Wi-Fi internet access, or it requires a computer and a monthly subscription fee for Internet access.

On the other hand, “pay as you go” cell phones offer an affordable text communication option for those under financial strain, without the pricey security deposits and monthly fees of a landline, or the big ticket price of the newest smartphones or tablets.

5. Works on phones long considered obsolete.

Your contacts don’t need to have the newest and most expensive smartphone to access text messages. Unlike mobile apps, this technology works on phones long considered obsolete.

6. No Data Plan Required.

Internet data plans are required in order to have consistent Internet access with a cell phone or tablet. Such plans can be an expensive luxury for people under financial strain. The good news is that no such plan is required to access text messaging. Text messages are available on the most basic, cheapest cell phone packages, including pay as you go options!

7. No software to Install.

Text messaging is a standard feature on all phones, which means your contact won’t need to download and install special software in order to communicate with you.

8. Text Messaging Identifies You As an “Insider.”

Why don’t people respond to calls received on their cell phones? Because everyone in their immediate circle knows that “text” is the best way to reach them. Voicemails and emails often come from outsiders – telemarketers, creditors, and so on.

Using text messaging “brands” you as being part of their inner social circle, and as a result, your messages are quickly seen and acknowledged (conversely, using emails and voicemail labels you as being outside of that social circle).

9. They’re Fast & Efficient

Quick, on-point communication works incredibly well in text messages. The brief nature of the medium means there’s no need for the usual niceties that would be expected in a phone conversation, for example. As a result, your staff can communicate quickly, which frees up the time they have to devote to other things.

More and more, many of your clients are…

  • Dropping their landlines and relying 100% on cell phones.
  • Maintaining basic talk & text plans only, which are much cheaper than service plans that contain Internet data.
  • Communicating almost entirely by text message, since it’s cheap and efficient.

As a result, in order to stay connected and relevant, you and your organization must start communicating with text messages as well.

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