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David Axlyn McLeod, PhD – The University of Oklahoma

CSWE APM.2013 A New Approach to Teaching Social Policy: Student Perspectives on Digital Activism


“We  are  living  in  the  middle  of  the  largest  increase  in  expressive   capability  in  the  history  of  the  human  race.”  –  Clay  Shirky,  Here   Comes  Everybody  

Game Changer

Digital technologies (particularly the web) have radically changed the ways we access, distribute, and CONTROL the delivery of information.

The information exchange is changing… From This  (Information  Scarcity)  

To This  (Information  abundance)  

& so is education


So what  can  we  do  to  help  distinguish  how  students  access,   interpret,  and  disseminate  information  in  the  digital  age?  

We can make it a part of our learning spaces.

Chickering  and  Gamson      

Student Generated Content is an educational strategy that represents an intentional shift of the student’s role from content consumer to content producer, and results in products of lasting value to the individual student, other students in the class, a larger community, and society (Sener, 2007; Lee & Mock, 2009).


Blooms Taxonomy   &  examples  of   digital  tools  found   at  each  level  

Be Careful  (Thoughtful)!  While  all  these  tools  are  interesting   and  hold  great  potential,  the  point  here  is  not  to  teach  because  of   a  tool!  It’s  incredibly  important  to  develop  your  learning  goals   and  objectives  first.  Then  find  tools  to  help  you  achieve  them.  


Some of  the  digital  tools  I’ve  used  to  both  make  the  most  of  the  7   principles  in  Project710  

Blogs -­‐‑

A free  and  open  access  platform  for  content  creation  and  distribution  (as  many   possibilities  as  you  have  imagination  for)  


Ex.  <-­‐‑  look  under  student  projects  

Social Media   -­‐‑

Facebook, Tumblr,  Google  +,  Twitter  or  others  (can  be  used  in  public  or   private/closed  ways  to  improve  student  engagement  and  instant  or  searchable   sharing)  Making  it  very  easy  for  students  to  distribute  content  they  find  away  form   class  time.  Encourages  learning  during  non-­‐‑class  time.  

Media Production   -­‐‑

I wanted  students  to  gain  experience  addressing  social  policy  by  capturing  the   attention  of  stakeholders  and  the  larger  community.    


Host on,  iMovie  or  Windows  movie  maker  to  construct  

RSS -­‐‑

“Re-­‐‑wiring the  web”  these  are  tools  that  help  you  aggregate  specific  content  to  a   specific  place  on  the  web.  It  helps  you  organize  distributed  content  



Teach 1st. Tools 2nd


Stud Fee ent dba n=2 ck 6


Additional Student  Feedback “Course lacked focus and direction and did not live up to its intentions. Taught a very narrow view of what 'change' means. Class lectures lacked depth or substance, leaving classroom discussions at a more appropriate level for a 100 level freshman course. Course did not live up to the standards of the university and was a waste of time and money. Independent learning without direction or focus is free, I shouldn't have to waste time or money in the process. Plus internet activism is an ineffective tool for community change and shouldn't be promoted as a valid form of community or policy engagement through a social work graduate school.” (SE)  

Students wanted  more  

In ONE  word   describe  your   experience  in   project710.     n=6  

issent d   e v i t e  of  ac 1  voic  

• Time in  class  and  engaged  in  discussions   (n=5)   • Advocacy  to  create  more  creative  learning   activities  in  other  courses   • Structure  (n=3)   o Expressed  some  anxiety  over  having   the  freedom  to  create  their  own  topic   areas  &  what  that  meant  for  course   expectations   o Students  expressed  stress  over  where   their  “grade”  would  come  from   • Individualized  Feedback  on  student  projects   prior  to  due  date   • Nothing  –  Loved  the  course  –  no  suggestions   (n=3)  

Creative - Uncommon – INSPIRED Enlightening - Worthwhile - Empowering


Student Feedback  to  the  question,  “In  one  sentence  or  so,  what   made  this  educational  experience  different  than  other  more   traditional  lecture  based  classes  you’ve  taken?”  n=6 “It  was  a  collaborative  teaching  effort  in  which  we  learned  from  our  instructor  but  also   assumed  communal  responsibility  in  educating  others  through  our  weekly  blogs.”     “Thinking  outside  the  box.  Social  work  education  is  WAY  more  than  sitting  in  a   lecture.  It  is  about  doing.  Exploring  and  executing  your  passions!  LOVED  this  type  of   class.”     “I  was  able  to  convey  my  thoughts  in  a  expressive  manner.”     “Being  provided  an  opportunity  to  learn  in  a  way  that  was  proactive  and  personally   meaningful  allowed  me  to  become  excited  about  a  subject  that  once  caused  me  great   distress  in  the  past!”     “Project  710  trimmed  away  any  waste  of  time  and  energy  and  got  to  the  educational   purpose  in  an  effective,  efficient  and  engaging  way.”     “This  class  actually  enabled  me  to  exercise  my  creative  muscles,  and  work  on  a  project   that  I  wanted  to  work  on  around  a  cause  I  was  actually  interested  in  and  passionate   about.  I  didn'ʹt  realize  how  much  my  creativity  had  been  stifled  in  this  program  until  I   got  to  do  this  project.”          

David Axlyn McLeod, PhD, MSW University of Oklahoma Assistant Professor | Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work Assistant Professor |Women’s & Gender Studies Affiliate Faculty | Center for Social Justice ZH 305 | 405.325.4647 | | | @mcleodda

Mcleod apm 13 handout  

McLeod CSWE APM 13 handout

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