It’s nearly ten years since Changing Lives (Report of the 21st Century Social Work Review ) made the case for evidence informed practice and a culture of lifelong learning and development. Quite a lot has changed since then.
In 2008 SSKS gave social care workers access to the resources of NHS Education for Scotland. This is invaluable but, as Dez Homes has noted, access to the journal literature is not enough. Two successive Knowledge Management Strategies recommended greater use of web based tools and IRISS and NES have promoted Personal Learning Networks based on services such as Twitter, Linkedin. Scotland’s Digital Participation Strategy (2014) highlights the importance of digital skills for the population as a whole, while the Digital Participation Charter encourages businesses and organisations to develop these slills in the workforce.
The 2015 Shared Vision and Strategy for the Social Services restates the importance of evidence informed practice (EIP). A recent paper from Christopher Chapman et al (Perspectives on Knowledge into Action in Education and public service reform: a review of relevant literature and an outline framework for change) notes that early literature on EIP made the naive assumption that there were stocks of knowledge on the one hand and potential users of that knowledge on the other. Current thinking leans towards the view that, in the social sciences, research contributes to change through dialogue and interactions rather than direct implementation. Davies and Powell have suggested that in communicating research we should learn from disciplines such as advertising.
Al this suggests the need for a culture in which the creation, finding and use of knowledge is routine, a point made well in a recent Guardian debate (discussed in a previous post). Such a culture needs a workforce comfortable with information and knowledge in digital formats. A report from Future Work Skills talks about a new media literacy:
the ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media and to leverage these media for persuasive communication.
Knowledge of fonts and layouts was once restricted to a small set of print designers and typesetters, until word processing programs brought this within the reach of everyday office workers. Similarly, user-friendly production editing tools will make video language—concepts such as frame, depth of field etc—part of the common vernacular.
So what do we do now? I’d suggest we need to get firmly behind the Digital Participation Strategy and the Charter to help the workforce and the population at large get to grips with the new digital literacies that underpin communication and collaboration.
More the 25 years ago Tim Berners-Lee gave the world an incredibly powerful tool – the World Wide Web. It changed the way we work and live. It has disrupted countless business models and will continue to do so. It is, in the words of the Digital Participation Strategy, an everyday, anytime, anywhere technology.