Session 5: Applying theory

February 20th, 2011

You should be have firmed up some ideas about your assessment (part A paper) with solution options (part B paper).  Your assessment and solution options papers will receive guidance from theories. Theories give us common vocabularies and concepts to communicate about complex phenomena. They also help guide our actions and research on the validity of our assumptions and the effectiveness of our solutions. Thus, theories are important for evidence based/informed practice, which is what the UTA SSW teaches. Two basic theories are important for human services IT. Systems theory provides valuable principles for designing, implementing and evaluating applications to support human service processes. Especially important are the concepts of feedback & control and input-process-output. For a review, see   Decision making theories help us move beyond the mere collection of information and focus IT on helping human services practitioners make decisions. Another set of theories are those surrounding behavior change since social work practice is often about behavior change at the individual or organizational level. These theories help design and promote organizational/individual change and reduce resistance. For a review, see When reading the text chapter and looking at applications, think of the decisions your assignment application will support. Also, think on what system’s principles you can apply to the problem/strengths your assignment application addresses. Finally, think of any theories that apply to getting your application accepted and used. In your blog this week, present your thinking on how theories you have encountered in your SSW studies apply to the assessment of your assignment problem and the design of the solution.

Session 4: IT application development process

February 12th, 2011

Last week we reviewed human service applications and heard from Jayne Cravens about online volunteering. Jayne provided a new way of looking at volunteering, i.e., through the viewpoint of technology. We will continue to take a technology view this week by focusing on the system change process from the viewpoint of a technology change. The changed associated with technology is similar to other social work change in many ways, but the technical aspects of hardware, software, and connectivity complicate it. Since technology is a new area for most social workers, they tend to focus on the technology and not on the change. In your blog this week, talk about how technology change will be different from the client change process and the agency/program change process. The current economic crisis has resulted in many clients as well as agencies going through big changes as they see their income cut. Reflect on how you handle personal and agency change in your life. Is it easy for you? Does this change produce stress? If so, how have you prepared yourself? Do you have stress reductions mechanisms in place? If yes, what stress reduction strategies work well for you? What have others done to make the change for you easier or harder? We need to learn about handling technology changes from each other. Change handling strategies will be useful when you design the process for implementing any solution you come up with for part B of your major assignment this semester. Note that a preliminary description of the condition/problem on which your major assignment will focus is due next week via the online form in the syllabus.

Session 3: Current uses of technology

January 31st, 2011

This week’s focus is on applications. Since most agency staff provide direct services, most applications will support direct service processes. Applications have had a big year with the millions of applications for the iPhone, iPads, and Android based phone.  As you skim through the applications in the text and those in the PowerPoint, think of the types of applications you want to review for the application review assignment. You might like to review applications that will help in your analysis and solution papers. In your comments in this week’s blog, mention the type of applications you think will be important in your future and the future of social work. Also, comment in the blog this week on the types and characteristics of applications that excite you and that cause you concern so you can use those ideas in designing your application in the solution paper. Finally, reflect on the culture of the webcam classroom and discuss any differences you notice between online and face-to-face interactions along with any emotions you are experiencing about meeting online.

Session 2: IT Fundamentals

January 23rd, 2010

“This class requires a conceptual change or sea change, that’s why it is difficult. You cannot rework or dust off another paper and submit it. You have to think things through in a new way.” [Comment from a previous student]

Part of your learning in this course will involve a change in social work attitudes and work patterns as you explore solutions to human service problems from a technology support perspective. This blog is a place to reflect on and record the changes that you are going through and share them with others in the class. These changes in attitudes and patterns are as important as your increased understanding of hardware, software, and applications. The problem is that even desired change for most humans is difficult, time consuming, and uncomfortable. The purpose of chapter one and the reading by O’Looney are to help us see the end goal for supporting social work practice and clients with technology. Do the scenarios and O’Looney’s article give you a feel for the variety of technology changes the field of social work will experience? Are you ready for a conceptual change? What can you do to increase your readiness? What apprehensions do you have? (click on “Comments” below to leave a comment)