By JJ Ramirez
The revolution has begun!
No we aren’t going to overthrow the government or riot, but 2015 will be very crucial year of change, advancement and growth for social workers across the nation and globe. To begin, lets rewind; the first social work class was offered in 1898 at Columbia University. By 1917, Mary Ellen Richmond, known as the founding mother of social casework, created the first scientific methodology for case work. Her work played a major role in helping make social work an actual profession and by 1929 ten universities were offering a degree in social work.
Now try and imagine what the first group of people that participated in social work had to endure. Landline phones were slowly being integrated and accessibility of phones to the poor or underprivileged was meniscal to zilch. No Internet. No Social Media. Much like Richmond, the only way social workers knew where or who to help was by networking through word of mouth and hitting the streets.
Fast forward 117 years and you arrive in 2015. The social work profession has grown into a massive cognitive machine working on all levels. By levels I’m referring to micro (individual and families), mezzo (neighborhoods and institutions), and macro (states and countries). Each is equally important, although true positive community change begins at the mezzo level. So if the system seems to be working, why a revolution?
Much like Richmond improved and revolutionized the social work profession through scientific research, so too will technology have the same effect this year. For those professionals already in social work, you may have already noticed the change. The amount of resources and way’s to connect are abundant to say the least and with technology improving at a rate faster than ever before, it is easy to speculate that the amount of resources will only grow. A few resources at their disposal now are social networking, searching the internet for information on any topic, conducting in-depth research or reviewing the research of colleagues, emailing and calling colleagues and clients, and mobile apps. Apps like iGrade for Social Worker help professionals access client evaluations, notes, statistics, and progress status and many more features.
This is huge improvement from word of mouth and hitting the streets right? I’d say so! Not only has technology helped improve social work professionals, it has also helped make a social work degree more accessible to students across the globe. How you ask? Online classes! Schools like the University of New England, Case Western Reserve University and Wake Forest University are just a few of the schools taking advantage of this medium. By providing online classes, students can mold their online classes to fit around their schedules which in turn will help the social work field grow.
The internet is making the world a smaller place, especially through social media. It serves as a great tool for quick communication, sharing of information, and research studies among colleagues. By collaborating and sharing of information, social workers are able to keep up with relevant news and information. The collaboration through social media assists community practice campaigns by providing information to the general public of ongoing events or locations of help centers, all for free.
Since most these resources are free, social workers at universities are taking advantage of social media by running campaigns to alert students about campus counseling centers, extended hours, hotlines and afterhours resources.
The revolution has begun and with the fast pace of technology, who knows if it will ever truly stop. What is known is that social workers that participate in community practice can utilize any and all tools to help their cause within their community. Whether it provides better resources for the poor, helping the disabled community, creating better programs for children or finding shelter for the homeless, they can save money by using free tools to reach their target audience, raise awareness, gain a gathering and ultimately change the community for the better.
J.J. Ramirez is an avid amateur cook and adventure seeker. He ran a marketing campaign for home automation systems across the U.S. tailored for middle to low income families. Through his travels he grew a passion for helping the community and coincidentally is now working towards obtaining a masters in social work. To contact him you can either email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow his journey at https://twitter.com/nevuram.