Linda Helm and Denise Bronson have recently been awarded funding from the Zirkle Endowment for Undergraduate Instruction for Innovation, through the Office of Academic Affairs and the Office of Distance Education and eLearning, to integrate iPads into the UPP Program to explore innovative ways in which social workers can use iPads and mobile technology to enhance services and client outcomes. Students in the UPP Program will receive iPads in Autumn 2014 to use the mobile devices for their required field practicums and coursework throughout the academic year. Students and instructors will develop new skills to deliver enhanced services to their clients through the integration of technology into course assignments and their field practicum.
With the introduction of iPads, students will develop and share innovative uses of mobile technology to provide efficient and effective services to their clients and incorporate these skills into their required field practicum. We are providing iPads preloaded with resources and apps to the students and working with them throughout the year to identify, apply, and evaluate the innovative use of iPads in social work practice in the practicum and in the classroom. This project promises to enhance child welfare services by giving social workers access to community resources, supervision, information on evidence-based practices, and client progress while in the field. The results of this pilot project have implications for improving social work services in other areas of practice as well as laying the foundations for the future use of technology in student’s social work practice following graduation.
We anticipate a variety of innovative ways that students will apply mobile technology to their field practicum experiences. We think the following examples illustrate some ways that iPads can be used to support social work practice. iPads with integrated internet connectivity will allow social work students and practitioners to access:
- online, real-time supervision between students and their instructors using Facetime while providing in-home services
- community resources for client referrals such as the Ohio Benefits Bank that links clients to food assistance, medical insurance, bill paying assistance
- veterans benefits, low-cost prescription drugs, and other supportive services, library resources and other sites with information on evidence-based practices to guide practice behaviors while working with clients in the field
- classroom materials to foster better field-classroom integration