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UCLan brings national social work community together

Lyndsey Boardman

Virtual book club creates innovative learning hub  

Social workers from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have taken teaching out of the classroom and onto Twitter through a virtual book club that has attracted support from other universities from around the country for its innovative teaching methods.

The UCLan @SWBookClub began only a year ago with a handful of enthusiastic students in Preston. It has since developed into a national learning community, funded by the Higher Education Academy, with seven universities participating in monthly discussions on topical social work issues prompted by their latest book.

Students from UCLan, Lancaster University, Glasgow Caledonian University, Cardiff University, the University of Northampton, Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Bradford are able to debate with practitioners and academics on Twitter via the hashtag #swbc to create a dynamic and interactive learning environment.

“I’ve been amazed by the powerful discussions generated by a virtual community of social workers."

Social Work Book Club

The latest discussion invited author Lisa Cherry to talk about her book The Brightness of Stars: Stories of Adults Who Came Through the British Care System, which shares stories of what it feels like on an intimate level for people growing up in care.

During her visit to Preston Lisa commented: “I’ve been amazed by the powerful discussions generated by a virtual community of social workers. It has a much wider reach than a classroom event and attracts a diverse audience from first year students through to highly experienced practitioners and academics.”

“The book club provides an alternative learning zone outside of the traditional teaching environment."

The sector leading initiative is the brainchild of UCLan senior social work lecturer Amanda Taylor. She commented: “The book club provides an alternative learning zone outside of the traditional teaching environment.

“The introduction of visiting professors to book club events has provided students with an opportunity to engage pro-actively with research and as a result enables them to apply this learning to the fictional characters and circumstances being explored. Our ultimate aim is to develop this community of learning into a community of practice.”