Yesterday, I was reading the ‘Social Work Tech Blog’. It’s a blog which, as Roy Walker would say, does what it says in the title (forgive the Catchphrase reference – I expect you have to be ‘of a certain age’ to pick that up!).
It focuses specifically on the use of technology for social workers as practitioners although I expect the uses can be a lot broader for professionals in many branches of work.
It made me think about the ways in which my own uses of technology not necessarily in the workplace but around and about it have developed.
I am slowly shifting from a paper-based diary system to logging all my visits on Google Calendar. I log them on my phone and it them pulls through to my home PC and Outlook. The idea generally being that I will never double-book appointments again. It doesn’t ALWAYS work and at the moment, I’m having to double-log in a paper diary (for the purposes of having a document and record keeping) but I find it may well make my life easier as I streamline a little bit. I can also use my beautiful Android phone to insert appointments which will carry across to all the information sources I use.
I’m scatty by nature and have a fear of ‘forgetting things’. I just need a way to work out how all my training days can be, in the future searchable and logged automatically. I’ll get there eventually.
I have to be careful what I write as log. I’ll only write in visits by initials anyway. One of my biggest worries was leaving my diary somewhere previously due to the names and addresses that it had in it. I now have a separate (paper) address book – a nice little Moleskine one for reference. It tallies my initials to addresses and yes, there are thousands of crossings out as people are allocated and deallocated but some things shouldn’t be committed to online databases!
Talking of my beautiful phone – I think I’ve written about it before but there is an application available for an MMSE ‘on the go’ which has helped me out for a rough idea when I’ve left paper versions behind.
And I would literally be lost without the Google Maps and GPS on my phone. Helps me out with visits on a day to day basis. I’ve saved a lot of trees in the amount of maps I used to print out!
I like the suggested idea of using Google Documents for an online resource document – perhaps for students coming into the team and for ‘new starters’ although at the moment, the thought of there being any new starters at all in the current decade is something of a pipe dream.
If I ever get more time, I will try to do something about putting together a current resource documents. I have a small resource pack I developed with use of online tools, sites and educational material which I wrote about at the time that I compiled it. I like the idea of extending it to more localised information and with more information that would be useful to professionals in the area.
My pride and joy (I know, this classes me as VERY sad) is an Excel document that sits on my desktop at work (not online!) and contains all useful telephone numbers. It was actually put together by someone in an office I used to work in about 5 years ago and he emailed it to me. I still use it and update it. I’ve sent it around to a few colleagues. Simple and undeniably useful.
The thing with technology is that the use in professional and personal life overlaps. Of course the information available on blogs, websites, forums has increased many times over in the last five years or so. I don’t necessarily use them at work (because, of course, I’m so busy working when I’m at work!) but they are used around work and to improve my knowledge of the work environment. One of the greatest joys is that I have a far better understanding of social work around the world, and particularly in the United States simply by being able to key into the writings of practitioners in different places. These are the ties that will make the profession as a whole and as far as it exists grow.
Twitter is another quite fine use of technology. As well as allowing me to pass the time while sitting on various buses from one visit to another and keeping up with day to day news that would never otherwise have been possible in a work day, it has allowed me to gain insights into different lives and different types of lives and more importantly to make connections in ways with people I would and could never have had any interaction with otherwise. I have two ‘Twitter’ streams. A personal one and a ‘blog face’ one although to be honest, sometimes the ‘personal one’ gets a bit ignored because most of what I want to say is either work-related or political. For anyone that hasn’t given it a go or doesn’t quite ‘get it’, I’d say, try. It’s hard to explain why it is so appealing until you give it a go for a week or two.
Facebook I tend to use wholly for personal purposes. The people I know on Facebook are, by and large, people I ‘know’ or certainly people I know well enough. I still retain a background thought of ‘this is information I should be happy for anyone to read’ which, although I’ve locked down my profile regarding privacy settings is a factor I am constantly aware of. That’s why I am less likely to enter discussions about professional matters (and I mean broadly of course because I would never discuss particulars) on Facebook.
On of Ignacio’s posts refers to ‘Digital Storytelling’ and the use of audio materials. I don’t run groups and although potentially in my job there could be a role for me to develop some groupwork, at the moment, it hasn’t been my priority on the basis of time available. I do listen to podcasts constantly though – like the author of that post – I much prefer audio information to video – because I can listen while going to work.
I tend to use podcasts for personal development, information and entertainment but there is fantastic material ‘out there’ if you go looking for it. I’d love to use audio a bit more – talking through theoretical approaches. It may be a project I work on in the future although if I do, because of tedious stuff like ‘recognisable voices’ it is more likely something I’d make available by request rather than openly.
At work a colleague of mine has made CDs for a service user who cannot read and send him ‘audio letters’. He listens to these sometimes when he is feeling over-anxious. It has been a great use of audio in a therapeutic setting. It wouldn’t work for everyone but there is a place in some situations.
I think I’ll come back to podcasts specifically in another post. I have a lot more to say about audio than I thought I did!
I know a lot of colleagues shy away from the overuse in technology in ‘downtime’ but it is something that is being incorporated increasingly into our lives.
For me, it is important that I keep learning, keep developing and keep improving both in my work and in my knowledge base which often I have to grow outside the work day. Technology is vital for that. It might not be something that is necessarily welcomed but the use of information should be invited in all its forms.
I’d recommend going to look at the Social Work Tech Blog. It’s both an interesting concept for developing professional practice but it is also has a lot of good ‘how to’ guides for those who might not be familiar with some of the software available.
I’d be interested to know about other peoples’ uses of technology in general and how it has worked for you. Please do leave comments if you want to share..
Meanwhile, I might try to develop to ‘resource’ posts which collate some of the information gathering that I’ve been occupying myself with through various sources over the years!