Learning from SSW Websites

You can learn a lot from school of social work (SSW) websites.  First, of course, you can learn stated facts about the school, such as which courses it offers.  Second, some SSW websites provide information that you may find useful for a variety of purposes, regardless of whether you are interested in that particular school.  An example:  while perusing the website of one well-known school, I found a link to David Spinks’s list of 10 Must-Try Social Media Sites for College Students.  In a separate post, I have compiled and organized David’s and other key websites for students.

Third, you can also learn things about the SSW itself.  In the example just given, the person who posted the link to that social media list probably had some clue about social media.  This is very different from, say, a SSW whose website has not been updated in the last several years.  One might ask:  do faculty and students at that kind of school understand and use online resources effectively?

The realm of social media, itself, may not be crucial for an understanding of social work.  But when you encounter something like this, you may want to look further on the SSW’s webpage.  For example, do they show faculty résumés, biographies, or vitae?  If not, is that because they are afraid of comparisons?  To gain more insight on that, you might want to do a search for publications, presentations, leadership positions, or other activities by a faculty member whom you find especially interesting, just to see whether this person is active or experienced in the topic that s/he purports to teach.  A comparison against the example of a well-known scholar can provide some perspective.

It’s not necessary for someone to be a leader in a field to teach it well, but a student might hope to find at least some evidence that the professor is involved and interested in the topic.  You definitely can waste a semester in a class that sounded good but didn’t actually teach anything – or, worse, that gave you ideas or attitudes that aren’t supported by theory, research, or practice.

As another example, any SSW’s webpage can incorporate a couple of blurbs and pictures from students who look and/or sound good.  But is there any meat behind that sizzle?  Your classmates are going to influence your learning experience, both inside and outside the classroom.  So, for instance, do students tend to be actively involved with one another online?  Does the webpage emphasize a positive interpersonal environment?  Do you get any sense of the school’s attitudes toward differing viewpoints?  Is there a commitment to an open and transparent learning ambiance, including perhaps a determination to identify and improve upon the school’s weaknesses?

Each student will have his/her own priorities for a SW education.  The searches supplied in the foregoing links may provide some templates for further investigation.  SSW websites cannot substitute for a visit and an opportunity to speak at length with students and faculty.  There is also a place for more objective rankings of schools.  But there is nonetheless a lot of information on those websites, spoken and unspoken, if you think about what you’re seeing and not seeing on that website.

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  • School of Social Work  On October 13, 2009 at 1:14 AM

    This post is very useful for persons like me who are learning about social service education in social work school. Especially, I like the link information about 10 Social Media Sites for College Students which very useful for me and I gain good information from there.

    Thanks !


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