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The New Social Worker is the quarterly magazine for social work students and recent graduates, focusing on social work careers for those new to the profession. This blog is a companion to the free online magazine at http://www.socialworker.com.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Social Work 2.0

Folks, there is a new, special section of the Web 2.0 Wikipedia page devoted to Social Work 2.0. As an additional bonus the sw 2.0 column is specifically mentioned! Gosh, information sure travels fast, doesn't it? Special thanks to Jonathan B. Singer, LCSW, the producer of the Social Work Podcast, for informing me of this resource.

Here is a sample of the article on Social Work 2.0:

Social work 2.0 represents the use of interactive web technologies in the delivery of social services....In March, 2009, the New Social Worker Online started a technology blog called Social Work 2.0. Social workers use web 2.0 technologies for clinical practice, community organizing and administrative and policy functions...Community organizers uses interactive web technologies to rally constituents and identify services in traditionally disadvantaged neighborhoods. For example, the National Association of Social Workers provides updates on legislative actions via Twitter.


  1. This is so cool! Yea for Jonathan! Yea for Karen, too!

  2. I'm interesting in seeing more comprehensive coverage of true use of technology in the social work field. How about discussing some ethical issues that come with online media usage by social professionals? As a social worker and an online media professional, I have a very comprehensive base of knowledge about online media, particularly online social media, and I'd even be willing to contribute from time to time if you don't have someone writing for the blog who has a good grasp of true online media that is up to date.

    No offense, but Twitter is only the start of what you can do online, and the social work professional is sadly behind the technology times, even from what I've seen on this blog. There are ethical and clinical factors of online usage that would be really interesting to discuss. Also, the Social Work 2.0 wikipedia says absolutely nothing about SOCIAL WORK as a more technology-integrative profession... it only lists everything that is "Web 2.0" and nothing about social workers are incorporating any of those things (probably because we aren't, thus far). What about e-therapy? Online support communities? Online advocacy? Legality of social work practices via internet tools and services?

    I want to see more about true use of online tech and online media, or you're really not writing a SW 2.0 column. :\ Sorry for the directness, but as an online media professional, I'm frustrated by how far behind social work is and I want to see improvements. I hope you'll have success in implementing them. :)

  3. Hi, Brandice. Thank you for your feedback. THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER published its first article on technology in social work in Fall 1994, and we have been covering technology on a regular basis for at least 10 years through our former Electronic Connection column written by Prof. Marshall Smith. So, we have covered a wide variety of tech topics over the years. We are very fortunate to have Karen Zgoda, who is very knowledgable and up-to-date on online media and tech use by social workers, joining us as our new SW 2.0 columnist. Also, we do accept article queries from social workers who are interested in writing articles for the magazine, so feel free to contact me with ideas. We have an article coming up in the near future on ethical and clinical issues related to Facebook and social networking. Technology is ever-changing, and I believe it is a challenge for many social workers to keep up with all the new developments.

  4. Brandice - this is both a response to your comment, and an opportunity to increase social workers' awareness of useful resources about social work and technology.

    As an online media professional you are well aware that the information found in Wikipedia is just the tip of the iceberg. Some folks have written fabulous articles in the past decade about social work and technology. I reviewed them in my chapter on technology and social work for the Second Edition of the Social Worker's Desk Reference. In particular, I recommend the following articles/resources about e-therapy, online support communities, and online advocacy:

    Banach, M., & Bernat, F. P. (2000). Liability and the internet: Risks and recommendations for social work practice. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 17(2-3), 153-171.

    Kanani, K., & Regehr, C. (2003). Clinical, ethical, and legal issues in e-therapy. Families in Society, 84(2), 155-162.

    McCarty, D., & Clancy, C. (2002). Telehealth: Implications for social work practice. Social Work, 47(2), 153-161.

    McNutt, J. G., & Menon, G. M. (2008). The rise of cyberactivism: Implications for the future of advocacy in the human services. Families in Society, 89(1), 33-38.

    National Association of Social Workers. (2005b). Standards for technology and social work practice. Washington, D.C.: Author. http://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/NASWTechnologyStandards.pdf


  5. Jonathan, thanks for posting these excellent resources. Another excellent resource is Jonathan's own Social Work Podcast. I see that there is a new podcast posted today on social workers and depression at: http://socialworkpodcast.com/2009/04/social-workers-and-depression-interview.html
    It looks very interesting!

  6. Thanks for the response, Linda. :) I wish the blog sent alerts to notify commenters when their comments have been replied to... perhaps look into the Disqus commenting system if you want to make the blog a bit more comment-friendly.

    "As an online media professional you are well aware that the information found in Wikipedia is just the tip of the iceberg."

    Actually, the information on the WIkipedia page barely mentioned social work at all and only covered WEB 2.0, which is why I was disappointed with the page. There are already several great info source for Web 2.0, but a wiki on Social Work 2.0 should cover how social work is impacted by technology, specifically, not just explain what Web 2.0 is. What technologies are used to do social work on the web? Etc. The wikipedia doesn't even begin to cover that, just repeats some basic terminology and common Web 2.0 services without actually explaining what those things have done to impact social work.

    I think Karen will be a good addition to this section of the blog, as she seems to have a better grasp of that aspect of what I'm looking for and she seems really on top of tech, at least compared to most of us in the social work field.

    Jonathan, thank you also for those articles! They weren't specifically what I was looking for, but are interesting reading in addition to any dialogue that can be generated here on the blog. :)

  7. Thanks for the excellent discussion! I think the real virtual social work is done in the web when social workers discuss and work in virtual worlds with the clients. In Finland there are several organisations working with kids in the virtual worlds where the kids spend their time.

    Other thing is the support that the web 2.0 can offer to the social workers. We do e.g. eConsultancy that is for professionals within social field. Check: http://www.sosiaaliportti.fi/en-GB/sosiaaliporttifrontpage
    Unfortunately there's only an introduction in English whereas most of the site is in Finnish. :)

    I agree that this is the very beginning of social work 2.0 and most are still 1.0. There are good options for social work to go virtual in the future!

    Some articles I've checked:

    Csiernik, Rick & Furze, Patricia & Dromgole, Laura & Rishchynski, Giselle Maria (2006) Information Technology and Social Work - The Dark Side or Light Side? Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work. Vol. 3, No. 3. The Haworth Press, 9-25.

    Garrett, Paul Michael (2005) Social work's 'electronic turn': notes on the deployment of information and communication technologies in social work with children and families. Critical Social Policy. Vol. 25, No. 4. London: Sage Publications, 529-553.

    Parker-Oliver, Debra & Demiris, George (2006) Social Work Informatics: A New Specialty. Social Work, Vol. 51, Nr. 2. Washington District of Columbia: National Association of Social Workers, 127-134.

    Parrot, Lester & Madoc-Jones, Iolo (2008) Reclaiming Information and Communication Technologies for Empowering Social Work Practice. Journal of Social Work. Vol. 8, Nr. 2. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

  8. Daniel - Fathers AdvocateJuly 15, 2009 at 5:59 PM

    Wow. I love it when groups of persons with common interests show how they use and embrace technology. I think using social media is an excellent method for the delivering of services - particularly for services that impact our younger generations.

    I was wondering if anyone uses Twitter for communicating between members? Your thoughts?