Date: Thursday, 9th May 2019, 10am-4pm
Venue: UCC Centre for Executive Education, 1 Lapp’s Quay


In social policy and social professional education, the appropriate, intelligent, and creative use of digital technologies in teaching and learning practices facilitates academics’ and students’ development as thinkers, researchers, professionals, and citizens. In contemporary higher education, strong digital leadership is vital to progressing digital capacities (Phipps and Lanclos, 2017). Alongside leadership at an institutional level, this requires digital leadership from within the discipline. However, educators in social policy and the social professions have to date been too quiet about the ramifications of digital technologies for our disciplines, our professional identities, our methods of enquiry, and our teaching and learning practices. The aim of this symposium is to bring together educators in social policy and the social professions to collectively and collaboratively explore and discuss the enhancement of teaching and learning practices within our disciplines and to articulate strategies for future development.

In the process of developing our digital fluency as educators in social policy and social professions, we are challenged to consider the relationship between digital technologies, society, and well-being. In responding to this challenge, we are inspired by the notion of ‘radical digital citizenship’, a concept introduced by Emejulu and McGregor (2016), who argue that ‘the apolitical stance of digital education amounts to an abdication of responsibility about what education in digital spaces might mean and what education in these spaces might be’ (ibid, 143). This exhorts us to think about technology-enhanced teaching and learning through a more radical lens that takes into consideration multiple forms of oppression and systemic social, economic and environmental inequalities. This perspective complements the emancipatory project of social policy and social professional education, which entails a commitment to social justice and to advancing individual and collective well-being, based on principles of equality, diversity and inclusion. It demands that we think critically about the impact of technologies on our social and professional practices, our advocacy, social action, and activism.

With this in mind, the SPEEDS team invites participants to join us on Thursday, 9th May, to reflect on our use of digital technologies in engaging with learners in social policy and the social professions (including social work, social care, youth work, community development, and early years education). We also welcome attendance from the wider academic community, including those who are engaged in social justice-oriented education in cognate disciplines, such as planning, psychology, sociology, education, criminology, etc.


 Posters will be displayed at the Symposium and there will be a timetabled session to allow presenters to talk about their work. The poster session is intended to encourage the sharing of pedagogical experiences and strategies and to inspire further discussion. Twitter posters will be disseminated through the @SPEEDS_TL account (and individuals’ own accounts) and will invite online interaction. These presentations may be guided by (but are not limited by) the following questions:

  • What kinds of teaching and learning practices embody our disciplines’ core values? For example, how are our practices empowering for students? Are our teaching and learning practices inclusive? Are they shaped by principles of Universal Design for Learning? How do digital technologies facilitate inclusive design?
  • Do (and how do) we act as compassionate practitioners in our everyday educational praxis? How can we model an ethics of care in our own professional engagements with students? What is technology’s potential for supporting caring practices with our students and colleagues?
  • Are there distinctive assessments for/as/of learning that are particularly valuable to our disciplines? Can we identify examples of authentic assessment? How do digital technologies facilitate the design of authentic assessment practices?
  • How can we participate in and encourage coalition-building through an educational praxis that is inclusive, challenges systemic inequalities, and promotes radical digital citizenship? What is the potential of technology for realising this goal?
  • How do our understandings of power, participation, and active citizenship shape our design of teaching and learning practices and environments? How does technology enable the creation of more democratic possibilities? How do we involve students as partners?
  • How might digital technologies be used to foster students’ capacities for integrative learning? Using digital tools, how can we support students in analysing complex social issues and ‘wicked problems’ (Head and Alford, 2015)?
  • How does the uncritical use of digital technologies serve neoliberal models of higher education? How can we harness our disciplinary expertise to reframe digital education in radical, politicised, empowering, and inclusive ways?
  • What is the impact of organisational cultures on academics’ engagement in digital education? What barriers to the adoption of digital technologies exist and how can these be addressed? What is the interplay between these barriers and disciplinary practices?
  • How can the National Forum’s strategy on Teaching and Learning Enhancement within the Disciplines and its DELTA Framework guide us in planning for the future development of teaching and learning in social policy and the social professions?
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