Information technology (IT), which encompasses tools and prescribed actions, has begun to substantially impact social work, given 50 years of impressive developments. This entry looks at IT trends and their impact on society and social work. The trends covered concern rapid IT development, connectivity, globalization and outsourcing, intelligent applications and devices, centralization and distribution of power and control, and distance education. Issues and challenges for social work are also discussed.
John G. McNutt
Information technology has had a profound effect on social work practice with larger systems. These tools improve traditional practice and allow new forms of practice. This entry reviews the use of technology in macro social work practice. It examines the role of technology in social administration, community practice, and social policy practice; discusses current practice and tools and discusses the challenges faced in the use of technology in macro practice.
Online therapy is the delivery of supportive and therapeutic services over the Internet. Online therapy offers the advantages of convenience and increased access to services. Service delivery may be problematic due to ethical concerns and legal liability. Limited research supports the efficacy of online therapy for a variety of health and social concerns. Increased use of the Internet by consumers and human service agencies will likely see growing use of online therapy and require training for workers and development of new policies and procedures for online service delivery.
Jo Ann R. Coe Regan
The increased use of technology applications, particularly the Internet, has resulted in the rapid development of technology-supported learning environments to deliver higher education. This has begun to impact social work education as faculty struggle to meet the demands of their institutions to develop online courses, distance education programs, and distributed learning environments. This entry will provide an overview of current technology applications and how they are being used in social work education. Implications of using technology in social work education include educational quality issues, pedagogical, and philosophical concerns, as well as future trends and challenges will also be discussed.
David A. Patterson
Social workers across fields of practice now have a wide array of technology tools and applications for the conduct and augmentation of practice tasks. This entry is intended as a primer on information and communication technology computer hardware tools and software programs. It describes the essential features and practice utility of an array of information and communication technology hardware, including desktop and laptop computers, tablet computers, and smartphones. Software applications are described with a focus on their social work practice functionality in the capture or retrieval, analysis or synthesis, and presentation or dissemination of information. Described are many emerging Web-based applications with noteworthy practice significance.
Joe M. Schriver
This entry focuses on the transition to independent living process required of youth and young adults who are “aging out” of the foster care system. It addresses the multiple risks and challenges faced by young people who are aging out of care and those of young adults who have “aged out.” This entry addresses existing policies and programs intended to assist youth who are transitioning from care. Current research findings about the experience of these youth over time both prior to and after exiting foster care are presented. Finally, the unique risks and challenges faced by as well as existing resources for LGBTQ youth who are in the process of or who have aged out are presented as an exemplar of unique needs and experiences of youth from vulnerable populations. Attention is also given to the strengths and resiliency of many former foster care youth who successfully make the transition from foster care to independent living.
This entry deals with the goals and tensions between professionalism and social work unionization. This entry addresses obstacles to the unionization of social workers, such as the mixed messages about unionization inherent in the National Association of Social Workers' Code of Ethics, the incipient antiunion sentiment within social work (which partly explains the dearth of social work strikes when compared with teachers' strikes), the impact of privatized social services on unionization, and the chilling effects of a business union perspective on professional issues that concern social workers. This entry calls for a fusion between union and professional concerns.
Mary Pender Greene
Sociologists and social workers have long been invested in understanding the role of communities in shaping identities and influencing behavior; however, the study of virtual communities is still new despite the dramatic ways in which online social networks have replaced traditional, geographically bound conceptions of community. The present article briefly reviews some of the early theories of community that have influenced practically all scholars studying computer-mediated virtual communities. The focus then shifts toward an analysis of early, important theorists focusing on virtual communities. The article concludes by examining contemporary research and practices utilizing virtual communities in social work, with a particular emphasis on ways to integrate virtual communities into professional practice.