OpenPlacement Blog

Past, Present, and Future of Social Work and Technology

past-present-future_zoom_1The face of Social Work continues to change as technology expands and grows. As it is accepted more and more in the profession of Social Work, it can help to improve a variety of different aspects of social work.

In the realm of advocacy, letter writing and phone calls are still utilized, but more contemporary means  include using websites and blogs, e-mails to law makers, and the employment of social media. As we move into the future, social media campaigns will continue to be a crucial means of advocacy and the use of videos can help to provide images that encourage people to take action.

Within social work, best practices have, and largely continue to be, created and shared by the National Association of Social Workers. In the future, technology will enable those within the profession to work together to create the standards of practice along with a database to find that information.

Case management, until recently, has largely been paper based. For many agencies, it remains as such. Some have moved into using basic resources such as Microsoft Outlook programs like Excel or Access. However, the future of case management lies in using technology that is mobile and all-inclusive in terms of its ability to store data, communicate via text and e-mail, access the internet and databases, and perform various other tasks.

Education for current social workers in terms of professional development and ongoing education has remained antiquated in the form of mainly face-to-face workshops, trainings, and in-services as well as occasional podcasts or audio/video trainings. As technology becomes more accepted in the field of social work, more online trainings and required technology trainings will become standard.

Undergraduate and graduate education has also suffered from the hesitance of those in the profession to regard online training as appropriate or adequate for social workers. However, some programs have begun offering online or blended courses (those that are a hybrid of face-to-face and online meetings). However, this move should transition into future programs that are almost entirely online and that offer a greater focus on technology use within the program. All of the course materials such as textbooks will be available online and will be highly collaborative.

Fundraising can be an important part of a social worker's job and there is no better way to improve the raising of funds than through expanded use of technology. Previously the use of direct mailings, benefits, mainstream media, newsletters, and the help of volunteers were the primary way to fundraise. However, there is no fundraising software and the availability of e-mails and online newsletters to improve the ability to raise money. In the future, technology can expand fundraising to the level of being able to have virtual events online, make donations available through one click or SMS text, and use social media sources to energize individuals and raise funds as well.

It is clear that social workers have always used all of the resources available to fulfill the myriad responsibilities of their jobs. Now, these professionals have a variety of new ways to use technology to make their jobs easier and to be more effective.