Building Professional Practice Education Cultures in the Online Environment

Building Professional Practice Education Cultures in the Online Environment

Marion Brown (Dalhousie University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-735-5.ch008
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The gradual introduction of Internet-based delivery methods into higher education has broadened technology usage and led to reflection on the pedagogical implications for social work education taught online, with considerations for content, design and delivery. This chapter reviews the use of online technologies in post secondary education, the use of critical reflection as a pedagogical tool, and social work field education, to contextualize the experience of the Dalhousie University School of Social Work’s distance delivery field education course. In the experience of Dalhousie University School of Social Work, the knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes of its student practitioners have been enhanced through the use of online integrative seminar case analysis and critical reflection facilitated via distance delivery. This chapter develops the connections among the online environment, adult education principles, and critical reflection on field education in social work, to craft an expanded message regarding transformative social work practice.
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‘Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten’. -- B.F. Skinner (1904-90), American psychologist quoted in New Scientist 21 May 1964 in Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (2004, p.739:11).


The Medium: The Online Environment

Online learning is at the cusp of educational innovation, in its accessibility and flexibility as well as technological advances, to address a range of learning styles and needs. Particularly at the post secondary level, student demand for computers and Internet based approaches to education has reached unprecedented volume, with highly refined tools and methods forming the measure for the satisfaction of their experiences (Aminzade & Pescosolida, 1999; Grauerholz, McKenzie & Romeo, 1999; Green & Dorn, 1999). Accessibility and utility are fundamental to a student population that is mobile, migrant and mature in its expectations that educational institutions will deliver products and processes consistent with the rapidly advancing telecommunications market. Moreover, in the current climate of education as commodity, and students as consumers, optimal flexibility and opportunity for choice are considered basic terms of engagement as students survey the offerings of universities and colleges (Calhoun, 1999; Soley, 1999).

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