Go to: Alyssa Lotmore Mini-Course Go to: Alyssa Lotmore Personal Page
I am Alyssa Lotmore, a Licensed Master Social Worker, who currently holds an administrative/instructor position in the University at Albany's School of Social Welfare. My area of interest is using the media as a way to advocate for social change and social justice. I currently co-host a social work radio show on WCDB 90.9FM in which I encourage learners in the School of Social Welfare to participate as guests and co-hosts. My goal is to bring more courses to the School of Social Welfare that focus on using different forms of media as a way to advocate for social change.
This is an interactive mini-course on media advocacy, with a specific focus on radio/podcasting. New and ever-changing media platforms are having a larger effect than ever before due to the ease and speed of distribution. Through technology, everyday individuals can ignite social change. As social workers, we are in the position to not only be receivers of messages regarding social change, but also the creators and distributors of the content through the media. This mini-course will focus on the technological tools needed to advocate through the media and also why this is a critical aspect of twenty-first century social work.
Desired Course Outcomes Include:
- Learners will be able to explain and discuss the need for the advancement of skills building for students and practitioners in media-related work.
- Learners will be able to use the tips and tools for using selected forms of media and create their own media projects.
- Learners will be able evaluate their work and the work of peers through peer and self-critiquing.
Part 1 - Intent:
While technology use and social media in the social work profession is beginning to be explored and addressed, there is very little information about social workers using the media for social advocacy. In a personal interview with Social Worker turned Radio Show Personality, Kathryn Zox, she stated that “social workers must be the media and engage the media” (personal communication, August 9, 2014). From there, this notion of seeing the public as the client was adopted. How can we, as social workers, reach individuals who may have never considered seeing and using a social worker? How do we train social workers and social work students to develop the skills to use the media, particularly the medium of radio, to reach the larger audience? I developed a trial course in the University at Albany’s School of Social Welfare on different forms of media use. Aside from interviews with professional faculty, I am using the written feedback and testimonials of the students in the trial course to conduct a needs assessment for this new mini-course. The intent of this course will be to teach both students and social work professionals how to use the media, particularly radio and podcasting, for social welfare advocacy
Part 2 - Gathering Information:
As stated above, personal interviews, surveys, and written student feedback were used for this needs assessment. This is due to the fact that I could not find other Schools of Social Welfare who had a similar course.
In a personal conversation with University of Alabama at Birmingham Assistant Professor, Dr. Laurel Hitchcock (personal communication, March 5, 2015), I discovered that she was also using podcasts in the classroom. Whereas my mini-course will focuses on radio and podcasting as the main content, her podcast use was incorporated into a typical social welfare course as an assignment. She directed me to her blog, Teaching Social Work  in which she developed a ‘how-to’ for social work instructors to incorporate podcasts into the classroom. Although this is somewhat different than my mini-course, Dr. Hitchcock does show how podcasting does teach skills that are in alignment with the social work competencies.
EPAS and Podcasting
- Tool for life-long learning (EPAS 2.1.1)
- Venue for Practice Skill Development (EPAS 2.1.3 and 2.1.10)
- Social and Digital Media Literacy (EPAS 2.1.9)
The trial course on media use in social welfare was offered in Spring 2015. Student feedback shows that overall they responded well to aspects of the trial course. There was a 74% response rate (23 out of 31 students). This survey was completely anonymous and was submitted at the end of the course.
Part 3 – Survey Results
This mini-course is different than the trial course; however, the student feedback from the trial course is beneficial when developing a mini-course on radio and podcasting in the social work profession. Based on that survey, certain issues need to be taken into consideration for this mini-course:
- Different Technological Comfort Levels of Students (perhaps more how-to videos and instructional text from the instructor)
- More of a base understanding of why use Radio and Podcasts (some more history and theory around media advocacy and podcast use)
- Clarification that the medium of radio/podcasting will be the main focus
A summary of the responses can be found here (Link removed)
Analysis of the Learner and Context
Based on the Needs Assessment, the main goal for this mini-course is for participants to gain a better understanding of why social workers need to use the media for advocacy and how to use the medium of podcasting and radio as a tool for that advocacy. The participants in this mini-course are social work students and professionals who are interested in learning about how to use radio and podcasting in the social work profession. By the end of this mini-course participants should feel confident and be able to use the interview strategies and communication skills covered in this course to conduct their own podcasting segments.
- Through readings and videos, learners will identify ways to use media for advocacy.
- Learners will be able to identify and analyze current media advocacy campaigns and reflect on how those strategies could be used in their practice.
- Learners will listen to and critique the podcasts of other learners, while also self-critiquing their own podcasts.
- Learners will apply the radio and podcasting skills explored and developed in the course to generate a topic-related media advocacy project that they can use in their practice.
- Participants should have a background in the field of social welfare or human services.
- Participants should have a familiarity with different social media platforms.
- Participants should be able to navigate an online wiki course.
- Participants should be able to open a web browser and navigate webpages.
- Participants should have a familiarity with or comfort learning how to use devices to create audio and video content. (Examples include a computer/microphone, digital voice recorder, smart phone voice recorder, Google voice, audacity, iMovie, etc.)
Access to a computer with the ability to download free software, if needed.
Unit 1: Why Do Social Workers Need to Be Media Savvy?
- Through reflective activities, participants will demonstrate an understanding of what it means to see the ‘public as the client.’
- Through reflective activities, participants will demonstrate an understanding of why using the media as a tool for advocacy is critical in 21st century social work.
Unit 2: A Look to the Past: History of Social Movements and Media Advocacy
- Through discussion, participants will be able to identify different social movements throughout the years.
- Through discussion, participants will be able to compare and contrast different strategies social movement leaders used to strengthen the impact of the cause.
Unit 3: The Basics: Radio and Podcasting
- Through creation, participants will demonstrate their ability to apply the radio and podcasting skills covered in this Unit.
- Through peer-critique, self-critique, and instructor feedback, participants will be able to evaluate their own work.
Unit 4: Now What? Promoting on Social Media
- Participants will be able to identify different media platforms and how social media can be used to promote content.
- Participants will design different strategies on how to promote their content on different social media platforms.
Unit 5: Helping Others Tell Their Story: Digital Media with Clients
- Participants will explore media tools that allow clients to tell their own story in a creative way.
- Participants will discuss the documentary, ‘Stranger with a Camera’ and who has the right to tell the story of another individual or another community.
The Curriculum map for this course can be accessed here. File:Curriculum MapLotmore.pdf
References and Resources
Battista-Frazee, K. (2015, October). Authenticity and your brand. The New Social Worker Magazine Online. Retrieved from http://www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/your-social-work-brand/authenticity-and-your-brand/
Battista-Frazee, K. (2015, October). How do you stand out? Exploring your social work brand. The New Social Worker Magazine Online. Retrieved from http://www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/your-social-work-brand/how-do-you-stand-out-exploring-your-social-work-brand/
Carty, V. (2015). Social movements and new technology. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Hitchcock, L. (2015, March 5). Podcasting with social work students - #BPD2015 Conference. Retrieved from http://www.laureliversonhitchcock.org/2015/03/05/podcasting_bpd2015conference/
Levinson, J.C., Frishman, R., & Lublin, J. (2002). Guerrilla publicity: Hundreds of sure-fire tactics to get maximum sales for minimum dollars. Avon, MA: Adams Media Corporation.
Michaeli, D.(2015, June 22). How Social Media Expands Social Work Career Choices. inSocialWork Podcast Series. [Audio Podcast] Retrieved from http://www.insocialwork.org/episode.asp?ep=170
Radio Diaries (n.d.). Radio diaries: Extraordinary stories of ordinary life. Retrieved from http://www.radiodiaries.org
Smego, K. (n.d.). Power of poetry. Retrieved from http://www.kanesmego.com