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Key Concepts for Doing Social Work in the Digital Age

On August 22, 2014, I will present a workshop at CEUs on a Stick! in Saint Paul, Minnesota that introduces participants to thinking about the Open movement in social work and social services administration. Many new and potentially confusing (and also just generally complex) terms and concepts are a part of such a workshop. Introducing them in such a way that participants feel included and empowered is going to be a challenge.

In the course of planning the workshop, I decided I’d rather have participants do some reading and processing on their own toward the beginning of the workshop (we aren’t to provide pre-workshop materials), and then to share their learning with the rest of the group. I think this will be a much better way “in” to some of these difficult concepts. So we’ll do a jigsaw. Participants will enter the room and have the sets of articles below available to them to browse. Hopefully I can convince people to choose diversely between these areas. Then we can process these ideas together.

My hope for the workshop is to invite people into what Ilene Alexander calls being a liminal participant – someone in an in-between state, about to move in one direction or the other into new knowledge and understanding. I think many of us in Social Work and Social Services have learned to be intimidated by technology. It’s “too much” when there are so many other important issues to consider. Whether we like it or not, it’s moving in ways that we can’t ignore (and shouldn’t have been). For our benefit and that of those we serve, we need to get past our defenses and sense of intimidation. At least to start, to move into a space where learning is possible. I get to do a post-assessment for the workshop. I’m considering whether I can do a pre- and post-assessment that will give me clues toward threshold concepts for learning about Data and Research in the Digital Age. Knowing these threshold concepts would help plan future workshops.

As a note for the future, I’d also like to invite other folks to participate who feel like “skilled orienteers” – past participants, perhaps – who feel confident in these topics and also have an orientation toward learning and teaching. Having these folks around might help bolster everyone’s confidence in learning.

Open Source, Open Access, Open Data

Big Data, Data Mining, Macroanalysis, Data Exhaust, and Digital Afterlife

Cognitive Justice, Popular Technology

Human-Centered / Activity-Centered Design (facts don’t matter, it’s assertions!)

What resources do you have to recommend? Any major areas you think should be here?

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