Online Social Work Education in Canada: What Happens when Critical Pedagogy Goes Online?

Kristin Smith | Online Social Work Education in Canada: What Happens when Critical Pedagogy Goes Digital?
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Principal Investigator: Dr. Kristin Smith (Ryerson University)
Co-Investigator: Dr. Donna Jeffery (University of Victoria)
Funding: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant

This project explores how distance education formats are shaping knowledge produced in Canadian Schools of Social Work where a mandate to promote social justice-based professional practices coincides with significant funding constraints and other restructuring measures found within both social service agencies, and in universities. The project will address three research objectives: i) to assess if distance education shapes the production and transfer of knowledge as it relates to social justice-based practice; ii) if yes, to determine how; and iii) to determine what are the potential gains and losses for critical social work education. The study promises to address a number of gaps in existing knowledge, to contribute to several bodies of relevant literature, and to have practical and policy implications for social work education, both in Canada and internationally. Through qualitative interviews with social work educators, our research will provide a detailed account of best practices for adapting social justice-oriented teaching practices to online classrooms. The outcomes of our study have the potential to shape a national social work education policy on online education and contribute to more effective social justice-based teaching practice knowledge.