Social Work Distance Education Conference!


Thank you for considering sharing your expertise!  Please be aware of the following issues.

  • All proposals are due on November 30th, 2015. 
  • Proposals may address distance education issues for schools and programs offering “completely online” distance degree programs, or programs that are “hybrid” that include live interaction, sometimes termed “blended.” 
  • Submissions related to any delivery platform such as web-based, learning management systems, or ITV will be accepted. 
  • Proposals related to practice issues may address instruction or the actual use of technology in interventions. 
  • Proposals that primarily focus on assessment must choose the most appropriate track.  For example, assessment related to EPAS/accreditation would fit well in the administrative track while assessment of learning outcomes for a class might fit well in the teaching track.
  • Please be aware that only basic “hotel grade” internet service is available.  Proposals that are dependent on additional connectivity should include plans for the capture of external electronic resources.
  • All sessions will be limited to 45 minutes in length.  You may submit a “”back to back” request for two sequential sessions.  Please provide your rationale for this if you choose to do so.
  • Proposal titles can be no longer than 15 words, should include a 100 word abstract, and a 500 word proposal. An optional draft PowerPoint may be included.
  • Accepted proposals may require additional information and materials prior to presentation.
  • No more than two proposals from the same primary author.

We will not accept proposals that compare online learning with traditional instruction.  We do not consider this to be a significant issue anymore.  However, proposals that measure outcomes or competencies for completely online or hybrid programs are welcome.

Proposal Evaluation Areas

Proposals will be reviewed for the following:

  • Relevance of topic, study, or enquiry to distance education
  • Clarity of the written proposal or focus of enquiry
  • Appropriateness of research method(s) and/or conceptual foundation
  • Robustness of analytical and/or theoretical frame
Significance for social work education or practice regarding distance education


Click here to download a copy of the track choices (PDF, >1MB)

Five different tracks are available: Teaching and Learning, Program Development, Administration, Field, and Practice. You must choose only one track.

Developing your own online or hybrid/blended program

The number of schools and programs interested in developing an online presence, either complete or hybrid/blended, is expected to dramatically increase within the next few years.  These sessions focus on the specific “nuts and bolts” for developing a partially or completely online program.  Topics may include issues such as approvals, faculty governance, planning, curriculum development, technology choices, instructional design approaches, assessment, accreditation, and other dimensions that need to be thought through when starting out.  We anticipate that this may be a very popular track and attendees will have major concerns about pragmatic approaches for program development.  Both hybrid (part online) and completely online models and strategies are appropriate.  Track attendees need to:

  1. Develop a basic understanding of the process of online or hybrid program development.
  2. Gain specific awareness of programmatic decision choices, issues and details.

Teaching and learning social work online

Just how can we teach online?  This track focuses on the dimensions of teaching and learning online in both complete and hybrid programs. 

Critical choices in instructional design need to be thought through as online instruction is often quite different from the traditional classroom.  Choices such as when to use synchronous or asynchronous modalities, for example, are important.  Selection of different instructional platforms and applications can empower or constrain various approaches.  Class management in an online environment may be a concern.  Assessment of learned competencies needs to be addressed. 

Submissions must identify whether the instructional technique is primarily synchronous or asynchronous. Track attendees need to:

  1. Gain a basic understanding of instructional choices, strategies, and techniques for successful online teaching and learning.
  2. Develop familiarity with various platforms and applications that may be useful for instruction and also the limitations of these.

Field issues and distance placements

Several field issues will emerge as more and more programs develop distance-anchored placements. First, for some programs direct face-to-face placement development and liaison obligations need to be electronically mediated.  Proposals that address how to use technology appropriately and effectively for placement development; student, field instructor, and liaison orientation; assessment; and supervision are welcome.  Second, as programs seek to develop placements in other programs’ territories, competition will result.  Proposals that address solutions to this anticipated problem will be most helpful. Track attendees need to:

  1. Gain specific knowledge of strategies and techniques for field placement development, evaluation, and administration at a distance.
  2. Identify emerging problems concerning field placement availability and strategies to overcome them.

Administrative strategies and issues

Numerous issues and problems challenge the online program administrator.  For example, resources necessary to support the implicit curriculum are critical and may be different and/or more extensive than in traditional program.  Faculty recruitment and retention may be an issue.  Teaching evaluations in an online program may be different from and problematic for promotion and tenure.  To what extent to rely on adjunct colleagues is another administrative decision.  Assessment for accreditation is a critical obligation.  Keeping adequate enrollment numbers to sustain both a traditional and online program going in the same unit may be problematic.  Marketing in a virtual world may require different approaches than face-to-face efforts.  Cross-border issues between states can be challenging.  Multi-state licensure issues may be problematic.  Sustained support may be an issue once a program is beyond start-up mode where resources are more usually available.   Track attendees need to: 

  1. Explore different administrative strategies and tactics for marketing, faculty recruitment and retention, governance, evaluation, program sustainability and other issues.
  2. Gain an understanding of horizon-level issues that may challenge program administration and support.

Online practice issues

Information technology advances have made and continue to make significant changes in how we communicate.  In the arena of social work practice, practitioners will be challenged to make decisions about their use of technology and the role it will play in practice intervention with clients.  While technologically-mediated practice intervention is not new, it continues to evolve, increasing concerns about its efficacy and appropriateness.  This brings up several questions.  How is technology currently being employed and in what contexts?  What are the ethical implications and the variety of issues raised when practicing in a technically mediated context?   What are the boundaries for effective practice?  How are licensure, cross-border, and insurance issues dealt with?  In what directions can we foresee the growth of technologically-mediated practice? Track attendees need to:

  1. Gain an understanding of the state of the art for electronically mediated practice interventions.
  2. Address how students and faculty learn to use technology in practice.


Seven possible proposal formats are available.  The Planning Committee will make every effort to honor preferred formats, but may request changes of venue when necessary.     You must choose only one format.

Each format choice will ask you to designate one specific track:

  • Developing your own online or hybrid/blended program.
  • Teaching and learning social work online
  • Administrative strategies and issues
  • Field issues and distance placements
  • Online practice issues


Panel sessions are 45 minutes in length. 3-5 presenters per panel

  • Panels are formal, thematic discussions by several experts (no more than five) to explore issues and new ideas facing distance/hybrid education or practice.
  • The primary presenter of the panel is responsible for organizing and coordinating the presenters and presentation, submitting the proposal, introducing the topic and panel members, ensuring that members stick to the topic and timetable, and guiding discussion.
  • Panels should be interactive in their discussion by a structured question-and-answer period or other means, generally lasting thirty minutes after presentation.

Paper Presentation

Paper sessions are 15 minutes in length including specific time for discussion.  The remaining 15 minutes is for both presentations.  These sessions are structured as groups of two accepted papers on a common theme whenever possible. 1-4 presenters per each paper.

  • Paper proposals should detail the focus of the paper and the way(s) in which it contributes to the body of knowledge concerning distance/hybrid education or practice.
  • The primary presenter will coordinate the paper presentation including keeping time if there are multiple presenters.
  • Once both papers have been presented, the session chair may provide a brief response to what has been shared. The chair will then facilitate a question and answer period or general discussion with the audience.


Roundtable sessions are 45 minutes in length. 1-2 conveners each
Roundtables are oral presentations and discussion with a group seated around a common table. 

  • Roundtables typically include an opening statement or presentation by the convener(s) followed by discussion and feedback.  Each convener is in charge of the 45-minute session.
  • The proposal should detail the focus of the roundtable and the way(s) in which it contributes to the body of knowledge for distance/hybrid education or practice.
  • Conveners should bring targeted questions to pose in order to stimulate discussion. Roundtables are an ideal format for networking and in-depth discussion on a particular topic. 
  • Conveners and participants are encouraged to bring copies of syllabi, assignments, forms, and other curricular or practice tools for discussion. 
  • Multiple Roundtables will be conducted in the same session room.
  • No audio/visual equipment will be available for Roundtable sessions.


Seminars sessions are 45 minutes in length.  1-4 presenters per seminar

Seminars may focus on curriculum, administration, or practice.  They may address any of the five different tracks.

  • A curriculum seminar focuses on curriculum and instruction. It is intended to enhance knowledge and skills in the development, design, and implementation of distance/hybrid education.
  • An administrative seminar focuses on administrative concerns in distance/hybrid education. It is intended to provide administrators with knowledge and skills in order to enhance program development and/or implementation.
  • A practice seminar focuses on the use of technology in practice, and may include contents on specific teaching techniques.

Skills Workshop

Skills Workshop sessions are 45 in length. 1-5 presenters per workshop

  • These workshops teach a specific skill needed by practitioners or educators and include one or more exercises that let attendees practice using this new skill.
  • The proposal should include a detailed discussion of why this skill is important in distance education or practice, how the presenter will teach the skill within a short time frame, and how the presenter will enable attendees to learn more after the session.
  • Skills Workshops may take many forms, but each will include an overview of a new skill or technique relevant to using technology in distance/hybrid education or practice and include a hands-on activity. Attendees should be ready to get involved as these sessions are not passive, but rather active opportunities for learning.

Think Tank

Think Tank sessions are 45 minutes in length. 1-2 facilitators per topic/group.

Think Tanks focus on a single issue or question.

  • A facilitator orients attendees to the issue/question and its relevant context.
    • Once the issue or question is framed by the facilitator(s) it may be supplemented or clarified by very short presentations by other members describing different aspects of the issue or question.
    • Attendees may then break into small groups to explore the issue or question. Discussion is facilitated either by a designated person at each table or by the facilitator(s) guiding the whole group.
    • After group discussion, the facilitator(s) reconvenes attendees to identify what has been learned and/or next steps in an action-based process.
  • The proposal should succinctly identify the question or issue to be addressed, the relevant contextual factors, and the roles of the individual breakout groups (Will they each address the overall issue/question or a particular facet? Will they examine the issue/question from a particular viewpoint?).  If the group is small, the discussion may take place among the group as a whole rather than in break-out groups.

Electronic Poster

Electronic Poster sessions are 45 minutes in length.  1-4 presenters per poster

  • This graphic presentation of your topic, displayed on your laptop, offers an excellent opportunity for gathering detailed feedback on your work. Like a paper, the proposal should detail the focus of the presentation and the way(s) in which it contributes to the body of knowledge on distance education.
  • The conference provides a table and electrical connections to plug in your laptop. Unfortunately, the conference will not be able to provide laptops/computers, large monitors, or reliable Internet access.  Please be aware that a large group may not be able to see a small laptop screen, so a larger paper poster may be helpful.
  • Poster presenters stand beside their laptop displaying their presentation or poster copy and discuss their work one-on-one or in small groups with attendees.

Click here to submit your proposal.
Thank you!