JOURNAL ISSUE 11

2004/2005

 

 

Spirituality & SOCIAL WORK Home Page Evaluation

Therese M. Sacco, SAR
Dada M. Maglajlic’, Cro/US
May 2004

Introduction

In 1999, “Towards a Peaceable Community” text (to be found in the no.3 issue of this journal) was written as an orientation for the future document. Although, over 100 School Associates participated in its creation, it was mostly used within the IUC Course of Social Work and Spirituality. Centred on this document, a home page was created. It was maintained with the kind help of Dr. Craig Rennebohm and Dr. Michael Striebel, who provided financial support, Therese Sacco who offered text editing, and Mr. Claus P. Wagner who created and managed the page.

 

Unfortunately the homepage is facing a rather common problem: who is to secure future funding and how?  As a beginning step in the problem-solving process, directors, resource persons and participants of the IUC Spirituality and Social Work courses were invited to review the homepage’s use over the past four years. A short evaluative questionnaire was sent via the Internet to all of them. Nine people responded to this request to and seven people returned completed evaluations via electronic mail. 

 

On June 18, 2004 participants of the 2004Symposium “Exploring Meta-Ethics and Promoting a Culture of Peace” were invited to evaluate the “Spirituality and SW” homepage. All participants were provided with a hard copy of the evaluation questionnaire. Several participants responded that they already sent their input regarding homepage to Therese Sacco, while several declined invitation saying that they do not know anything about the homepage. Thus, eight responses were received.

           

Demographic data

Education and training

Levels of education included Doctorate, Master, and Bachelor degrees.

Fields of education incorporated social work, psychology, counselling, theology, education, medicine and philosophy.

Job or position

Respondents live and work in different parts of the world: Austria, Former Yugoslavia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States of America. They identified a spread of jobs or positions, which included:

  • Retired University Professor

  • Street outreach, pastoral care, developing parish based mental health services and social action in health care/human service systems

  • Professor, University of Kansas School of Social Welfare

  • Social Work Lecturer, Massey University, New Zealand

  • Social work educator & researcher

  • Social worker & foster care parent

  • Counsellor/Welfare Centre Novi Sad, Serbia and Montenegro and

  • Students in social work at Doctorate, Master, and Bachelor levels.

Attendance at the Inter University (IUC) Centre: Social Work & Spirituality Courses

All respondents indicated that they had participated in one or more of the IUC social work and spirituality courses, between 1995 and 2004.

 

Attendance: Number of times

Number of Respondents

Six

1  respondent

Four

2  respondents

Three

3  respondents

Two

3  respondents

One

7  respondents

 

Capacity in which respondents attended the Inter University Center (IUC), Social Work & Spirituality Courses

Respondents pointed out that they had attended the IUC social work and spirituality courses as participants, lecturers, course directors and as organizing directors.

 

Attendance:  In what capacity

Number of Responses

Organizing Director

3

Course Director

5

Lecturer

11

Participant

6

 

Homepage Evaluation

Knowledge of Homepage

Knowledge of the existence of the spirituality and social work homepage came through different routes.

 

Organizing directors and some course directors knew about the homepage from its design and development phase.

“I took part in the design, the development and in the financing of the home page”.

“Participated in conceptual discussions, was notified of its implementation”.

Another course director learnt about it when planning the summer course.

 “Through planning of our course”.

Others were informed about it via colleagues, mostly through Dada.

 

A respondent heard about it through a friend who had participated in a previous course.

 

All other respondents learnt about the homepage at the symposia.

“I learnt of the homepage at one of the symposia, when it was set up. Claus took us through its operation and helped us negotiate our way around it”.

 “From the Course Directors,”

“During our course in Dubrovnik”, and

“At the symposium”.

Frequency of visits to the homepage

Among the respondents, visits to the homepage ranged from never, “every second month” through “about 10 times” and a “few times a year” to “not very often” and  “several times”.  Two respondents indicated that they had visited the site 2 to 3 times, while three respondents stated that they had logged on 4 to 5 times in all.

 

One respondent explained that he visited the homepage “once or twice, I’m not good at navigating the web or using chat rooms etc. I’m more a face-to-face type and one-to-one participant when I am on the Internet”.

 

Another respondent said that she “visited the homepage fairly regularly, after the symposium. However, as the year progressed I used it less.”

 

Participation in dialogue via the homepage

Four respondents participated in dialogues via the homepage. One said, “in the beginning”, another said, for “as long as possible”.

 

Another respondent “wanted to but never seemed to work out how to”, and another said, “I’m not sure whether I was on the web page or it was simply in reply to an email.”

 

Five respondents indicated that they did not engage in dialogues with one explaining, “Not in group dialogue.  But corresponded with various directors regarding some topics that came up”.

 

Frequency of participation in any dialogue

Those that did participate in any dialogue pointed out that they had done so, “every second month”, “10” times, “seven times”, “four or five times” a “few times a year”, and “2 times”.

 

Topics covered when contributing to the home-page

Topics covered by respondents included:

  • “Organizational stuff; and answering very rare questions of users”

  • “Towards a Peaceable Community document and believe one or two other presentations might have been posted”

  • “Exchanged information about previous or future work in the course; networked between persons; discussed initiatives in different spots of the world interested in social work and spirituality, sharing motives, values, life ways, and working locally & thinking globally.”

  • “Reaching ethics in professional approaches with different client systems”

  • “I contributed suggestions on design and notes regarding course planning about creating a centre on spirituality and social work” and

  • “Edited and posted contributions made by some participants”.


Purpose of the homepage

Respondents were offered various options regarding the purpose of the homepage.

 

Purpose of Homepage

Number of Respondents

To connect colleagues interested in its content

10 respondents

To network between the annual symposia in Dubrovnik

9 respondents

To promote “Towards a Peaceable Community” document

9 respondents

“I don’t know”

2 respondents

 

In addition, other purposes were identified:

  • To provide information and insights derived from annual spirituality courses;

  • To present the outcomes of symposia; and

  • To provide a place for a chat room or on going dialogue.


What respondents found most valuable about the homepage

Five respondents commented on what they found to be most valuable about the homepage.

  • “The home page is valuable in providing information about the school’s themes. It provides links for all services attached to symposium. It also provides a forum in which non-academic presentations can be recorded and made available to its users”

  • “To spread information for interested persons”

  • “It is a necessary meeting point in the virtual way -wonderful possibility to have quick and clear insight.”

  • “Information, insights and resources about spirituality in social work.”

E-JOURNAL EVALUATION

Knowledge of the E-Journal

Thirteen respondents were aware of the existence of the IUC Journal of Social Work Theory and Practice, while two respondents were not aware of its existence.

However, one respondent added, “but I’m not sure how to find it, nor do I know how to get on the web page – my ignorance – instructions were given I know”.


Visits to the E-Journal and their Frequency

Thirteen respondents indicated that they visit the E-Journal. They have done so, “Once in three months” “three or four times a year”, “a few times a year, “once a year”, “rarely” and “a few times”.


Purpose of the E-Journal

Respondents identified primary reasons for the E-Journal’s use.

 

Primary use of E-Journal

Number of Respondents

Reading articles

12 respondents

Obtain technical information about the IUC School

6 Respondents

Obtain copies of articles

4 respondents

Obtain information regarding publication

2 Respondents

Obtain information and keep on track

1 respondent

 

In addition, a respondent explained that she also visited the E-Journal “to obtain information about articles so that I can pass it on to colleagues and social work students”.


What respondents found most valuable about the E-Journal

Three respondents found the E-Journal to be most valuable in providing possibilities to publish papers delivered at the IUC courses.

 

Two other respondents found it valuable in providing information re. developments in different fields of social theory and practice.

 

One respondent had difficulty accessing the E-Journal.

IUC SCHOOL

What respondents found most valuable about the IUC School

  • “The Spirituality and Social Work courses provided an opportunity to meet with a diverse group of similarly interested colleagues and explore a wide range of relevant and evocative issues. For an American, it provided an important occasion for internationalising my perspective and developing a sense of global community as a context for my local work. I have internalised and regularly draw on the work presented by Dubrovnik colleagues who demonstrated unusually passionate, creative and thoughtful approaches to both practical concerns and the deepest issues of our work. I returned each year with new ideas and perspectives, helpful in my local service and teaching. I especially valued the collegiality we have shared at a time, then and now, when there is so much violence and destruction being visited on the world in the name of religion. I feel the small witness we have provided is a step in the right direction.”

  • “I have found that the school has been most valuable as a forum to meet people from different parts of the world, to share insights and knowledge and to create global connections that sustain a vision for a world where values of peace, justice, compassion and love can flourish. The connections I have made give me hope and life-long friends.”

  • “To meet colleagues, exchange experiences, commitment to work together with the same, similar or different values towards future, locally and globally in the social work.”

  • “We have the opportunity to exchange our practice and new theory orientations between the most interesting professionals in the field of the social work and to stay connected with friends after the symposium.”

  • “It provides the opportunity to have in depth interpersonal connections and innovative thinking with participants.”

  • “The international exchange of experts.”

Contributions and comments on the spirituality and social work homepage

Contributions touched on information about the service provider and statistical information about the homepage use, creating links with another relevant site, technical difficulties with accessing parts of the homepage and appreciation for its existence.

  • “Apparently the forum of the web site was not used by former or future participants. So, the provider (!) closed it.
    Claus Wagener most probably could help you get a statistical report on what parts were used and how often.”

  • “I put a link from my faculty homepage to the IUC spirituality homepage.  In a few months I will have a major website tentatively titled ‘Spiritual Diversity and Social Work Global Resource Center’.  The focus is different from the IUC site, but they are complementary.  So, I suggest that we link between each other.”

  • “I usually have a problem with opening forum topics, maybe it is a problem with home page. Because of that I usually give up communicating with the author of the article.”

  • “Homepage was hard to find, and impossible to ‘enter’”.

  • “It is worth to work on it in the future. I am thankful to all persons, colleges and friends who made their efforts for the home page”

Looking towards the future

 

Suggestions and insights were offered on the future viability of the homepage.

“I think that the school and the spirituality and social work course in particular are fragile structures on which to support the homepage. What support Michael and I were able to give came from our own small programs, which in my case was very limited. A supporting institution with more resources is necessary to sustain this level of activity – school of social work, a foundation, a professional organization. The IUC structure is really designed to facilitate at best the annual course. Our participants took the course a significant step further, but the continuation of the homepage requires an institution and funding committed for the long haul. This may speak to the limits of the IUC course. It is an opportunity for a group to gather and share at a creative edge. It is a structure, which is best for creativity but not one that itself can sustain any complexity of ongoing programs. Perhaps we can turn to one of the participating institutions e.g. to a school of social work or to the international social workers federation, or to Ed’s group as the long haul framework for a homepage? My sense is that the journal works because Dada’s institution gives it a home.”

A final comment on the spirituality and social work course

“Dubrovnik was a significant center for conversation – part of the liveliness of our discussions came from the near to hand testimony and struggles of brothers and sisters sharing their experience from the area. It is a center fairly accessible to the European region but not so easily reached by colleagues in other parts of the world, especially from less wealthy countries. Is it possible that the model we developed could continue in Dubrovnik as a regional dialogue with a scattering of international participants, and be complemented by other regional gatherings – a North American symposium, a Latin America gathering, an African meeting, a Middle East-India symposium, a Southeast Asia gathering, a China, Japan-Australia meeting? This is certainly beyond our immediate capacity but perhaps we can trust that what we have done for some years now is a model that others can use elsewhere. That it seems to me would be a useful and valuable purpose for finding a way to continue a Spirituality and Social Work homepage. Could it become a vehicle for encouraging the multiplication of the Dubrovnik experience?”

 

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Copyright for the I.U.C. Journal of Social Work Theory and Practice is owned by the Social Work Program, Department of Social Relations and Services, Bemidji State University, Bemidji, Minnesota, USA. One copy may be made (printed) for personal use; teachers may make multiple copies for student use if the copies are made available to students without charge. Permission must be secured from the editors for sale of any copies of articles or for any commercial use of the material published in the Journal.
2001 Copyright BSU/IUC Journal of Social Work Theory & Practice