Chapter 11: Technology Integration in the Practice of Family Professionals
Professionals who work with families use technology in their practice. With changes in our interactions and information sharing in virtual environments, the use of mobile devices, and the creation of applications we have yet to imagine, this use will become an even greater part of ongoing professional development, practice, and institutional and field policy landscape. How do family educators, scientists, service providers, therapists and counselors, program administrators, and others keep up? Whose responsibility is it?
Consider your thoughts about the use of laptops and other electronic devices in college classrooms, especially lecture classes, acknowledging the growing research indicating that note-taking is not effective, students are distracted, and technologies can be distracting to others. Although there are a number of reasons why policies might remain flexible, and devices used/encouraged, this doesn’t take away from our need to explore ways that technology, in context, truly supports learning and instruction. As a college student, what does this mean to you? Do you bear responsibility for your learning and, if so, how do you manage your technology use in classes in ways that promote your learning and not a distraction? What expectations do you have for your university to offer you learning environments AND professionals that support your success in integrating technology or otherwise using it wisely? Do you see changes needed?
It can be asserted that family professionals who are on the front lines with families should model and encourage digital citizenship. Or one could argue that this is not the job of a family professional, that our work is about the content and practice of family life, not teaching about technology. What do you believe?
Imagine that you work for an agency that provides education and resources for grandparents raising grandchildren. You feel that an app would help grandparents easily track the children’s developmental milestones, doctor’s appointments, school records, and other information. You’ve done some investigation, but find only apps that seem overly complicated and aimed more at biological parents. You learn that grant money is available from the Brookstone Foundation for the development of innovation for this population. The proposal requires that you indicate how you’d go about designing the app. What would you do to create a piece of technology that would be useful to these families?
COVID-19 created the need for all family professionals to adapt the delivery of their services. Consider the three types of professionals discussed in this chapter: educators, therapists, and family service/case workers. Explore individual accounts of each type of professional. What similarities or differences in their experiences do you observe? What systemic, organizational, or public policy support might address their needs?