The Digital Turn in Social Work Education and Practice

Karmen Toros*, Asgeeir Falch-Eriksen, Rafaela Lehtme, Koidu Saia, Alison McInnes, Sarah Soppitt, Rebecca Oswald, Samantha Walker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This article examines current literature on the use of digital technology in social work education. The systematic review follows the PRISMA statement and includes 14 peer-reviewed articles published in multiple academic journals from 2013 to 2021 reporting primary research with social work students and educators. Four main themes emerged from data analysis: type of learning tools as intervention; impact on the learning process; impact on professional competence; and the value in the context of preparing students for practice. Findings indicate that various interventions (simulated clients/avatars, scenarios, and activities) for developing social work competencies are used via active learning classroom, videoconferencing platform Zoom, the Web conferencing program Centra, virtual world educational format Second Life, SBIRT simulation, digital storytelling, and others. Simulated activities and exercises supported linking theoretical knowledge with practice. Furthermore, simulation-based learning contributed to mastering students’ practice skills, specifically building therapeutic relationships, assessment skills, ethical decision-making/behaviour, and reflexivity. The overall impression of the research literature is that social work education, supported by digital technologies, has a considerable potential to train social work students to become better practitioners and that educational institutions must embrace technology to remain relevant to the field of practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSmart Learning Ecosystems as Engines of the Green and Digital Transition
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 8th Conference on Smart Learning Ecosystems and Regional Development
EditorsMihai Dascalu, Óscar Mealha, Sirje Virkus
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9789819955404
ISBN (Print)9789819957903
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2023
EventSLERD 2023: 8th conference on Smart Learning Ecosystems and Regional Development: smart learning ecosystems as engines of the green and digital transition - Tallinn University, Tallinn, Estonia
Duration: 19 Jun 202320 Jun 2023

Publication series

NameAdvances in Sustainability Science and Technology
ISSN (Print)2662-6829
ISSN (Electronic)2662-6837


ConferenceSLERD 2023
Internet address

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