Learning to be a social worker in the 21st century
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Learning to be a social worker in the 21st century



Learning to be a social worker in the 21st century

Learning to be a social worker in the 21st century



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    Learning to be a social worker in the 21st century Learning to be a social worker in the 21st century Presentation Transcript

    • Learning to be a social worker in the 21 st century Lesley Cooper and Joan Leeson Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario, Canada
    • The 21 st century workplace
      • Recognition that learning occurs in every workplace.
      • Government policy acknowledges value of workplace learning.
      • Changing patterns of technology and competitiveness in global economy demand immediate work skills and workplace knowledge.
      • Job specific skills: to an organization and industry.
      • Workers require ability to continuously learn and reconstruct practice in the light of these challenges.
      • Linking of individual learning needs with the organization: cannot be provided by educational institutions.
    • The 21 st century workplace
      • Greater emphasis on ‘learning organizations’ and their continual evolution of practice throughout the workplace.
      • The importance of learning with others to ensure competition and innovation in a global world.
      • From training (transmission learning) to using the construction and reconstruction of knowledge in work places.
    • The 21 st century workplace
      • Human service organizations: also respond to competition for funds and other resources and demands for efficacious services eg. foundations.
      • Doing much more with much less.
      • Structure of agencies changing with less hierarchy, flatter structures, devolution of decision making, increasing number of work teams, collaborative workplaces and cross functional decision making.
      • A more diverse workforce; less toleration for workers not adding value (IR legislation)
      • What is the impact of these changes on the practicum and the educational institutions’ relationship with the sector and can we maintain separatist structures?
    • Is what we profess, what we practice?
    • Paradigm for social work practice education
      • The profession, university and students value learning in the workplace.
      • Focus is on instruction, teaching and supervision
      • Roles are supervisor, instructor, practice teacher and student
      • A one-to-one learning relationship with the instructor only being a social worker
      • Development of professional identity
      • A professional curriculum, regulated by government, registration boards, or the profession
    • Paradigm: theory to practice
      • The transfer of knowledge from the classroom to the placement, the acquisition of an application of skills and the development of a professional identity are considered to be the essential learning processes in practice learning regardless of the country of origin (Rogers 1996)
    • Paradigm continued
      • Approaches to practice learning grounded in psychotherapeutic practice often irrespective of the setting.
      • Theoretical frameworks based adult education frameworks including Kolb, Knowles and more recently Schon
      • Students as learners.
    • Work based learning
      • Definition of work based learning:
      • Acquisition of knowledge and skills by learners as they learn authentic practice whilst being supported by skilled peers and experts (Billett 1994)
      • Theoretical framework: situated learning and the importance of a community of practice
    • Situated learning and community of practice
      • Situated learning: Dewey, Vygotsky, Bateson, Lave and Wenger and social construction of ideas and knowledge.
      • The focus is on how learning occurs and the way knowledge is constructed. It is a dynamic process, that includes talking, responding, interacting, reflecting and thinking about what is happening.
      • It happens in workplaces with novices, peers and a range of experts. Knowledge construction in an evolutionary process.
    • Concepts underpinning situated learning
      • Learning involves the whole person in a complex system of social interaction with others
      • We learn from others in a process of guidance, scaffolding and immersion in activities
      • We learn through our interactions with others in a culture whether that is a team, office, project group or professional collective
      • We learn with others so that practice becomes part of the knowledge of the collective.
    • Research on work based learning
      • Affordances and engagement in a process of co-participation.
      • Unintended and intended learning.
      • A process of guided learning (coaching, scaffolding, cognitive apprenticeship).
      • The workplace curriculum: a socially organised stock of knowledge in use in the work place as experienced by participants especially newcomers (Billett 2001).
      • The work based curriculum has several stages.
    • Analysis based on changing workplaces and situated learning
      • Learning in workplaces is valued.
      • Move from teaching, instruction and supervision to learning.
      • Move from transmission and expertise to learners and learning and co-construction of knowledge.
      • The learner to be at the centre not the supervisor, practice teacher or instructor.
      • Review our theories of social work practice education to include situated learning and communities of practice. In addition include understandings of cognition, meta-cognition and human development for adults.
    • Analysis based on changing workplaces and situated learning
      • Students do learn from every person in the workplace: other students, work groups, other professionals, peers and those with greater expertise. There are multiple learning relationships.
      • Identity comes from work place culture and from SW’s, the field of practice, the occupational area, other professionals and the community of practice.
      • Rethink concept of curriculum: it comprises core occupational skills (problem solving, communication, group work skills) required for all SWs, the regulated curriculum and the work place curriculum.
    • Analysis based on changing workplaces and situated learning
      • Revalue the constructed knowledge from practice.
      • Revisit the separatist nature of theory and practice.
      • Revisit placement process by acknowledging concepts of affordances, engagement and co-participation.
    • Where to from here?
      • Review our mental schemas on social work practice education and re-conceptualize.
      • A collective change process for social work educators, profession, industry, and government.
      • Higher education has to review its separatist views on learning and respond to the changing workplace.
      • International research…in a community of practice.
      • An invitation for other researchers and practitioners?