Social work by distance learning

In a county with the landmass of the UK and the population of Scotland, having access to high quality distance learning makes a great deal of sense. It was with a great deal of pleasure then that I was able to work with academic staff from the Open Polytechnic, and social work industry representatives, to design New Zealand’s newest Bachelor of Social Work programme.

The design challenge was to create the most effective balance between face-to-face and online learning activities and to offer a credible, and effective programme of social work education that would meet the criteria of the Social Workers Registration Board.

The solution was a blended learning design combining open learning materials, with online interactive discussion forums, face-to-face practice skills workshops, noho marae experiences, and industry practice placements. The basic design is founded on principles of constructive alignment and includes elements of problem-based learning driven by authentic multimedia case studies. Principles of self-assessment are used throughout the programme and some courses include collaborative assessment tasks.

The programme was approved by the SWRB in August 2012 and the programme is now open for business.

Following the publication of this post, in March 2015, I joined the Open Polytechnic social work team and am currently working there as a Senior Lecturer in Social Work.

Neil Ballantyne

Neil is the Director of Learning Designs.