Fall 2005, Volume 12, Number 4
The Digital and Ethical Mindset of Social Work Students
by Marshall L. Smith, Ph.D., MSW, CSW, ACSW
Each fall, Beloit College publishes its Mindset List® of entering freshmen. I have attempted to assemble a comparable list for newly entering social work students. Since some social work students will be entering BSW programs as freshmen, others as juniors, and still others entering MSW programs as graduate students, I have tried to consider the range of graduating classes from 2006 (advanced standing MSW students), 2007 (two-year MSW students, and transfer junior BSW students), and 2009 (freshmen BSW students). This fall' entering freshmen are typically seventeen years old and were born in 1988. Entering transfer juniors this fall are typically nineteen years old and were born in 1986. Finally, entering MSW students this fall are typically twenty-one years or older, and were born in 1984 or earlier. For the fall of 2005, I have grouped all of these together as a range of birth years from 1984-1988. In the future, I may consider developing separate lists for each of the three typical situations.
As I sit in my office in early August, I am thinking about what my returning BSW students will need when they return to campus next month. Every year, students arrive with more basic skills in the use of technology, but they also show up with some gaps in their knowledge of how to apply technology to the practice of social work. So, I spend some time each summer trying to identify who these students will be and what skills and knowledge they will arrive with in September. I am particularly interested in the social and political milestones that my students experienced while maturing. Since this column is the Electronic Connection, I am also interested in their life experiences with technology.
My list for this year follows:
Editor' Note: This list is modeled after the Mindset List® produced annually by Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin, with permission from Beloit College. Contact email@example.com with your own ideas for next year' list for social work students!
Prior to 1984, the year when most entering MSW students were born, the following social and political events were common or the norm:
Early 1980s: Gay characters on television.
Early 1980s: Photocopies have always been able to be made at home.
Early 1980s: Directory Assistance has never been free.
Early 1980s: PIN numbers have existed for nearly everything.
Early 1980s: Doctors have had to deal with "reasonable and customary fees" and patients have typically had controls placed on the number of days they could stay in a hospital.
Early 1980s: They have always been able to make phone calls from planes.
1980s: All states regulated social work practice, most by licensing social workers.
1980s: The predominant political view was conservative, halting the expansion of major public welfare programs, and reducing government spending for welfare to a minimum.
1981: MTV and music videos had begun.
1981: AIDS was recognized as an epidemic.
1981: IBM released its first personal computer.
1981: The space shuttle made its first flight.
1981: Microsoft acquired the rights for the DOS operating system.
1981: The first low-cost, full keyboard TTY was released.
1982: The first artificial heart was implanted in a human being.
1983: The first cell phone network appeared in the U.S.
1984: Crack cocaine was developed.
1984: The term "computer virus" was first introduced.
1984: The Macintosh computer appeared on the market.
1985: Genetic engineering became a reality.
1985: The Windows operating system was introduced.
Beginning in 1986, the year in which this fall' typical transfer juniors in BSW programs were born, the following happened:
1986: The Challenger exploded.
1986: Chernobyl happened.
1986: Nintendo came on the market as a one-time purchase cost, self-contained gaming system.
1986: The Rochester Institute of Technology Social Work Department circulated the first mass e-mail message to enrolled students.
1987: 50% of all U.S. homes had cable television.
1987: Windows 2.0 was released.
Beginning in 1988, the typical birth year of this fall' entering freshmen, the following milestones in our history occurred:
1988: The recordable compact disc was invented, changing the way we listen to music.
1988: The "Deaf President Now" movement exploded on the Gallaudet University campus
1988: Internet Relay Chat (IRC) was begun.
1988: The JPEG file format was adopted, making it possible to share photographic images digitally.
1988: Only those in extreme circumstance could receive public welfare assistance. Welfare was seen as to be provided on a short-term rather than long-term basis. Responsibility for social welfare shifted to the states and the privatization of welfare was increased.
1989: The first laptop computer was commercially introduced.
1989: Tim Berners-Lee at the CERN Lab, developed the first WWW protocols.
1980s & 1990s: Many social workers worked as private practitioners or in proprietary agencies; others were in private agencies that contracted with government to provide specified services to an identified clientele.
1990s: Social work education experienced another period of expansion, as many schools with baccalaureate programs added master' programs and some schools with MSW programs offered the doctorate.
1990: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed, making it a requirement for all public telephones to have volume control, and to provide a shelf and outlets for TDDs. (Who carries around a TDD/TTY today?)
1990s: Credit cards became widely available for college students and the source of major debt, not experienced previously.
1990: The Rochester Institute of Technology BSW Program introduced a required computer literacy course in its curriculum.
1991: The ban on commercial use of the Internet was lifted. E-commerce was born.
1991: The text-based Lynx browser is released to the public.
1991: The DOS version of AOL was released.
1993: President Clinton proposed a universal health insurance program for all Americans. It was defeated.
1993: Educational and training programs were expanded for those on public welfare.
1993: President Clinton proposed measures to prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians.
1993: The total number of Web sites on the WWW was 130.
1993: The World Trade Center was bombed for the first time.
1994: The first SPAM was posted to newsgroups.
1994: The first version of Netscape was released.
1995: Amazon.com was launched.
1995: Microsoft' Internet Explorer 1.0 was released.
1995: Microsoft' Windows 95 appeared.
1995: Search engines appeared, however laughable the results.
1995: The New Social Worker launched its Web site (first URL was http://www.xmission.com/~gastown/newsocwk; URL was changed in 1997 to http://www.socialworker.com)
By the mid-1990s, the following technologies were addressing the needs of disabled people:
Limited mobility: Voice-activated telephones, lamps and switches.
Blind: Talking Caller ID, pagers, keypads with large buttons, alarms, calculators.
Hard of Hearing: Volume controls.
Deaf: The Internet, WWW, and E-mail.
1996: In spite of the growth of social work education, Congress and the administration ignored the social work profession as they reformed the federal-state public assistance program by imposing work requirements and time limits.
1996: ICQ ("I Seek You") expanded widely on the Internet.
1996: Google appeared.
1997: The conservative agenda gained strength and proposed to: balance the budget, stop crime, reform welfare, reinforce families, enhance fairness for seniors, strengthen national defense, cut government regulations, promote legal reform, consider term limits, and reduce taxes.
1997: DVD players and movies exploded onto the market.
1997: First Social Work Technology Conference at the University of South Carolina
1999: Napster peer-to-peer MP3 system created.
2000: The human genome map working draft was completed.
2001: Attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a fourth commercial flight in Pennsylvania changed the security of our world.
2001: Apple released the first iPOD.
2001: The conservative agenda was unleashed full force.
2005: Interactive Internet role play games involve purchasing the game, then paying monthly fees.
Would you like to contribute to the creation of this list for the fall of 2006? If so, check out the Beloit College Mindset List at http://www.beloit.edu/~pubaff/mindset/ to study the style in which their lists have been created. Then, imagine how we can tailor this concept for social work and get to work generating ideas for next year' list. Send your suggestions to Marshall Smith at DocSmith@rit.edu.
Looking forward to your ideas!
Marshall L. Smith, Ph.D., MSW, CSW, ACSW, is a professor in the Rochester Institute of Technology BSW program. He has served as a member of the technology committees of BPD and CSWE.
StartFragment Copyright © 2005 White Hat Communications. All rights reserved. From THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER, Fall 2005, Vol. 12, No. 4. For reprints of this or other articles from THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER (or for permission to reprint), contact Linda Grobman, publisher/editor, at P.O. Box 5390, Harrisburg, PA 17110-0390, or at firstname.lastname@example.org .