Zooming into online learning: Digital technologies for skills-based learning in social work

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation onlypeer-review


The global COVID-19 crisis led to unprecedented challenges for compulsory on-campus attendance for social work education programs. The crisis prompted the need to innovate and deliver skills-based subjects related to interpersonal communication and group work online for the first time. This paper outlines the educational dimensions and strategies that underpinned the development and delivery of two online skills-based learning programs, which took place over a two-week period in April 2020. The paper outlines a collaborative team approach that involved social work educators, practitioners and online teaching experts, who utilised digital technologies to ensure program design was accessible for students from diverse backgrounds, which impacted their capacity to participate in skills-based learning. Emphasis is placed on our University’s Wiradjuri ethos, social work values, crisis theory and adult learning principles that were drawn upon to: centralise student and staff well-being, maximise participation, learning and self-care. Key challenges and insights are outlined, as well as implications for future social work program delivery and research. Consideration is given to developing and implementing an evidence-informed approach to skills-based learning in a time of rapid global change. Despite the challenges COVID-19 has created, this paper argues that there are opportunities to critically evaluate taken for granted assumptions about education and implement new approaches that enhance student participation and their development as social workers, who can be at the forefront of rapid changes spearheaded by digital technologies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event2020 ANZSWWER Symposium and NFEN Workshop - Virtual event, Australia
Duration: 19 Nov 202020 Nov 2020
https://www.anzswwer.org/wp-content/uploads/2020-Symposium-Program-for-Website-as-at-24-Oct-2020.pdf (program)
https://www.anzswwer.org/symposium/symposium-events-2020/ (Symposium website)


Conference2020 ANZSWWER Symposium and NFEN Workshop
Abbreviated titleDigital Technologies in a Time of Change
OtherIn today’s world, social work is operating in an environment of immense change. This change is not limited to one realm of our lives, it impacts our profession in our interpersonal and community practice, in the education of our students and the development of ourselves and our colleagues, and in the research that we undertake to examine the impact and our responses to this change. Throughout this climate of change social work is continuing to be proactive and creative, with an ever-present focus on social justice and a critical approach. Keynote speaker presentations and abstract presentations will contribute to a robust discussion of what it means to continue to work towards positive change, in line with the following broad themes:

Theme 1: Digital technologies in a time of change
Theme 2: Regional, rural and remote and international social work
Theme 3: Indigenous knowledge, methodologies and perspectives
Theme 4: Disruptions in politics, civil society and the environment
Theme 5: Social work education in the field and in the classroom
Theme 6: New Voices in Social Work Research
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