Internationalising Social Work Education Using Massive Open Online Courses

Internationalising Social Work Education Using Massive Open Online Courses

Linette Hawkins, Jennifer Martin, Elspeth McKay, Supriya Pattanayak
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8324-2.ch005
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Internationalising the curriculum is a priority of universities worldwide and increasingly a focus of social work education. Social workers espouse principles of global justice and community development yet social work in Australia remains locally focused. A review of international and local trends in the literature on ePedagogy and social work education within the context of internationalising the social work curriculum highlights current trends and practices in blended delivery and future opportunities provided by massive open online courses (MOOCs). Consideration of a case study of educational practices in the design and delivery of a community work course in blended delivery mode in Australia and India and via MOOC offering reveals that contemporary educational technologies can facilitate quality learning and teaching experiences. It is argued that increased flexibility in course offerings provides students with greater choice to engage in a range of quality educational experiences that are locally and globally contextualized. This chapter is well placed for the discussion on social networking and collaborative learning MOOCs – building MOOCs communities.
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Background: Technology And Social Work Education

In Australia in the late seventies the “demarcation between on-campus and off-campus studies” in tertiary institutions became more ‘blurred’ (Foks & Hopper, 1979 p. 74). Distance education was the initial alternate delivery mode adopted by a small number of schools of social work (e.g. Monash University) in the 1980’s. This was initially aimed at addressing the unmet demand for qualified workers in rural areas; potential students who were otherwise unable to access tertiary programmes. During this period Distance education generally comprised structured learning which took place when lecturers and students were separated with communication maintained on an individual basis through print and other media (e.g. radio, telephone, television, audio and video tapes). Distance education was gradually replaced by ‘fleximode’ delivery. A fleximode study programme comprised on and off campus study providing students with a set of course material together with regular teaching and peer contact (Greagg, 1986). An important element in fleximode pedagogies comprised pre-planned combinations of on and off campus studies of which an important element was to encourage geographically dispersed students to become independent learners. The degree of overlap in the concepts alternate to conventional on campus teaching and learning such as distance education, external study, combined on and off campus programmes and fleximode led to the adoption of the term ‘flexible learning options’ to indicate any combination of these approaches in facilitating an adult education approach to the flexible delivery of social work education (Hawkins & Sefton, 1989). This was targeted specifically at student/ workers in rural areas and/ or with restricted access to conventional tertiary programmes. Flexible or alternate modes of teaching and learning has increased potential due to the evolution of ICT tools that assisted with organizational and administrative aspects of course design and delivery. This includes developing communities of learning to foster quality interactions in the online environment (Flynn, Maiden, Smith, Wiley & Wood, 2014). The fleximode and flexible delivery methods of teaching and learning are now superseded by the blended mode of delivery.

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