Social Work Education During COVID-19: Students’ Perceptions of the Challenges and Opportunities of Online and Blended Learning
Keywords:distance delivery, blended learning, focus groups, “suitability” of a social work program online
AbstractAs the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, educators have needed to rapidly adapt the ways of delivering study materials to facilitate learning for university students. This article discusses the findings from a series of focus groups conducted with social work students to explore their perceptions of the move towards online and blended learning and teaching. It reports on their initial apprehensions, summarized in four key findings: (a) interactions with staff, (b) a sense of community, (c) assessments, and (d) opportunities to grow. Although these consultations occurred prior to the beginning of the 2020/2021 academic year, students’ accounts raise important questions about ways in which feelings of belonging to a learning community can be cultivated and sustained as blended approaches to learning and teaching become more embedded in social work training. The article concludes by highlighting the need for ongoing considerations around creating a sense of community in an inclusive, supportive, and sustainable way. In so doing, it underlines the value that intersectional and critical research can add to these discussions as a means of promoting social justice in social work education
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