Teaching social workers to harness technology and inter-disciplinary collaboration for community service

Caroline Rosenthal Gelman, Carol Tosone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Relatively little has been written encouraging social workers to use communication technologies for community service purposes, such as education and advocacy with general populations, and empowerment of individuals, groups and communities, especially marginalized and voiceless populations traditionally served by social workers, to tell their own stories using these media. This paper reviews relevant literature on the use of media in social work, presents examples of ways visual technologies have been used to serve populations-at-risk, and briefly describes a course jointly offered by a school of social work and a school of the arts intended to teach students the use of various technologies for community service purposes. The application of social work practice, theory, research and policy to media production reflects a little-explored potential modality for micro and macro intervention, and thus is an innovation in the field, combining service learning, inter-disciplinary collaboration and application of social work knowledge through technology. We also argue that social workers should become competent in using media to harness their power for intervention with and on behalf of clients, and to positively and actively shape the way clients and our profession are portrayed and viewed in the larger world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-238
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Advocacy
  • Communication technology
  • Community service
  • Inter-disciplinary collaboration
  • Service learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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