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5 ways counselor educators can use new technology

Social media expands counselor educators’ academic tools.

When it comes to social media and other new technology in counselor education, “the sky is the limit,” says Michelle Stone, a student in the College of Social Sciences at the University of Phoenix Central Florida Campus who is planning to graduate in 2012. She is presenting on the topic at the American Counseling Conference and Exposition in San Francisco in March along with Dr. Christine Karper, an area chair in psychology for the College of Social Sciences.

“Social media is really imperative to look at as an adjunct to actual face-to-face counselor education,” Stone says. The key to using social media platforms such as Twitter® and Facebook® is moderation, she adds.

“You don’t want to rely so much on social media for delivery of information, but you can’t neglect it,” she says. “It’s a tool — one tool — and it has a place in counselor education.”

According to Stone, there are five main uses for social media and related new technologies in counselor education. 

1. Experiential learning
Virtual world platforms, like Second Life®, allow educators to create virtual classrooms or walk through other universities’ virtual worlds. For example, in New Jersey, Montclair State University’s “Theorist Project” allows anyone, including educators, to enter a virtual psychologist’s office where students can “meet” Sigmund Freud, for example, and learn about his theory from either Freud’s — or a patient’s — perspective.

2. Role-playing
“If you are training students to be counselors who work with children, you can rely on role-playing, but it can be awkward, expensive and time consuming,” says Stone. However, educators can use avatars to act and respond like children so students learn counseling concepts.

3. Student presentations
Counselor education also relies on student feedback, typically through conversations and presentations, to show they grasp the materials. Stone notes how she arranged for psychologists from The Netherlands, Germany and the United States to discuss via Second Life, in real time, course materials with her campus-based classmates for a project presentation.

4. Supplemental literature
Although more limited and asynchronous in scope, Twitter, Facebook and blogs allow counselor educators to feed students’ supplemental literature, the latest research and other industry concepts via links or other engaging posts.

5. Engaging industry professionals
Encouraging students to follow social media posts, like those on Twitter, of today’s top counselors and psychologists (either independently or as part of course work) puts them in closer contact with industry leaders, she says. “Social media makes the world of psychology [and counseling] smaller, more engaging and much more effective in terms of education and eventually extending that into their practice.”


Facebook is a registered trademark of Facebook Inc.
Twitter is a registered trademark of Twitter Inc.
Second Life is a registered trademark of Linden Research Inc.

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