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34 | The benefits of a disrupted 'place' for a placement: the potential of virtual student units during a global pandemic


Williamson, M and Stanford, S and Canty, J, 34 | The benefits of a disrupted 'place' for a placement: the potential of virtual student units during a global pandemic, 2020 virtual Australian and New Zealand Social Work and Welfare Education and Research (ANZSWWER) & National Field Education Network (NFEN) Workshop: 'Social Work in a Climate of Change', 18-20 November 2020, Virtual Conference, Online (Sydney, Australia), pp. 43-43. (2020) [Conference Extract]

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The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has required emergency changes to the way social work field education is delivered in Australia. As Australian states and territories experienced various stages of lockdown, the traditional apprenticeship model of field education, where physically present students work alongside an experienced practitioner in an agency setting, became untenable. Faced with this challenge, the Social Work program at the University of Tasmania questioned how our placement program could be delivered and also contribute to the state’s COVID-19 responses and recovery. In this presentation, we describe a model of University-based virtual student units that provided a unique opportunity to partner with 15 agencies who between them provided placement experiences for 154 students. Each group comprised six students who were working from home in each regional area, and they were organised according to their learning needs and practicum level. Groups were allocated to agencies (up to four groups per agency) and external supervisors provided group and individual supervision. Liaison meetings occurred each week through a group-based ‘culture coaching’ model that enabled early resolution of placement difficulties. Although the pandemic has been – to say the least – disruptive, it has prompted reconsideration of the focus and potential of ‘place’ in placements. We argue there is potential to adapt our model of field education to address the longstanding issues of the sustainability and quality of placements, as well providing news ways to demonstrate the community impact of social work field education in local and global contexts.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Keywords:social work education, social work practicum, COVID-19 pandemic response
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Social work
Research Field:Social work not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Learner and learning
Objective Field:Higher education
UTAS Author:Williamson, M (Mr Matthew Williamson)
UTAS Author:Stanford, S (Associate Professor Sonya Stanford)
UTAS Author:Canty, J (Dr Justin Canty)
ID Code:145436
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2021-07-21
Last Modified:2021-08-03

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