Using an enhanced e-textbook to facilitate the education and practice of social workers


Author/Creator ORCID




University of Baltimore. School of Information Arts and Technologies


University of Baltimore. Doctor of Science in Information and Interaction Design

Citation of Original Publication


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This study examines part of a conundrum that arises in the training of Maryland social work supervisors. Experienced social workers are needed to bring their skills to supervisory duties, but the nature of the situation in which many such workers find themselves works against their ability to take on this essential work. Such workers are, for instance, spread out over a considerable distance once they have left their own training and taken up working responsibilities. Gathering them together at a centralized location for their supervisory training is a difficult matter of logistics. In addition, the time required for such training is not a minor consideration; it must be taken from jobs and other responsibilities, potentially leading to losses in productivity and income. Other similar issues are taken up as background for the work to be performed here. Allowing more of this training to occur remotely would enable more Maryland social workers to take on the supervisory roles. Similarly, making the training more individualized would leverage the fact that different people learn differently. Some people learn most effectively from hearing a teacher speak; some learn most effectively from seeing a visual presentation of the material to be covered; some learn most effectively from a high-level overview of a topic; others learn most effectively working from low-level details to assemble a higher-level vision. It is posited in this study that technology can play a useful and important role in dealing with several of these issues. Technology can help deal with issues of logistics, as more training time can be self-directed locally rather than requiring as much centralized instruction. This can also help in time management, making material to be learned available to the learning population on their own time schedules, leading to fewer disruptions in the remainder of their lives. The most important conclusion of this work, however, lies in the nature of the interface that such technology should present to the prospective student. Rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach, the technological solution presented could allow the student to choose from among a number of modules that present equivalent material in different ways. Some will appeal more to the verbal learner. Others will appeal more to the visual learner. The presentation lends itself naturally to traversal by breadth or depth, enabling students to take whichever approach to the material that most suits them, but resulting in all students arriving at the end at the same place. This interface was tested using traditional technological means and employing well-understood methods. Suggestions from each test group were used to improve the interface for the next test. The training of Maryland social work supervisors is necessary work. It is hoped that this study will contribute to this training in the future.