Zoom Classroom Legal Implications & Discussion

A colleague sent me an interesting article he wrote called “Is Zoom a Classroom?‘ that  explores the legal ramifications of defaulting to Zoom classrooms in #TheseUncertainTimes. For example:

A student cleaned their gun on Zoom during class. If that happened to me, could I discipline the student? Even though they are in their own apartment? If I work for a state university, can I boot them off the screen without fear of raising a constitutional concern?

A professor accidentally left a tab open to his porn while sharing his screen (just the tab showing). He was fired. What if a student does that during a presentation? Are they subject to university regulations? Can I be fired for having a tab open to a museum website with Renaissance paintings? How about an NRA website? A Joe Biden or Donald Trump campaign website? Can a student be dismissed for doing the same thing?

A student puts on a shirt that says something racist. Can I turn off their video? If so, do I suffer First Amendment issues if I work for a state university?

The article contains 18 additional plausible situations educators should consider while using Zoom. I posted it to Twitter and a lively discussion ensued. Here is my best attempt to combine tweets from multiple threads of discussion in (mostly) chronological order:

Social Work Educator Tips: Guidelines for Online Discussion Forums | Teaching & Learning in Social Work

IMG_7804.PNGKaren Zgoda is a social work educator, a Doctoral Student in Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, MA,  and a founding member of #MacroSW, an online community for macro social workers. In this blog post, she shares her tips for helping social work students learn how to be professional in online learning environments.

Source: Social Work Educator Tips: Guidelines for Online Discussion Forums | Teaching & Learning in Social Work

Digital Literacy in Social Work Education: A Case Study Incorporating Technology and Social Media Within the Social Work Curriculum

Now published – Digital Literacy in Social Work Education: A Case Study Incorporating Technology and Social Media Within the Social Work Curriculum in the Special Section on Multimedia in Nonprofit Education of the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership. I discussed this work at CSWE APM back in October. Here is the abstract:

To remain competitive and culturally competent, social work education must incorporate digital literacy and technological instruction to prepare students for work with clients and colleagues throughout their professional lives. When instructors offer a grounding in technology skills for modern social work practice and provide feedback to students in a supportive classroom setting, social work students become more confident and poised to handle the complications of technology and social media while interacting with clients, agencies, nonprofit organizations, and society as a whole. The purpose of this article is to present a case study of a social work course on classic and contemporary communication skills that focuses on communication, writing, and digital literacy, designed for BSW students. The article includes rationale for course development, course description, and sample digital writing activities from the course.

I worked with amazing social work writer Kryss Shane on this article. Special thank you to Jimmy Young, editor of this special issue, for your feedback and support to improve this work. To access the article (log in required), head to the journal’s web site. To follow updates on this work, head to my ResearchGate page for the article.

Teaching Resources for Snowy Days

In Boston, it’s currently snowing sideways so hard I can barely see across the street. It’s reasonable to expect at least one or two snow days during the school year in these parts and, having grown up in Buffalo, NY, I enjoy them greatly.

A Twitter conversation with a colleague prompted me to compile resources for staying on top of course material when the weather refuses to cooperate. If campus was closed and I was due to teach a face to face course today, I would hold the class online using the campus LMS discussion board. This is also helpful for situations in which falling behind on course material would negatively impact the rest of the semester (statistics and research courses, I’m looking at you).

Here is the syllabus language I use to communicate snow day expectations to students. We also review it together on the first day of class to address any questions or concerns students may have:

Inclement Weather: In the event of inclement weather and campus is closed, class will be held online using the discussion board in Blackboard. Instructions for class participation will be emailed to you.

Here are resources I have found helpful for holding class online:

The hardest part of a snow day should be making sure you have french toast ingredients and keeping a mischievous cat out of trouble.

Exhibit A: Mischievous Cat

Stay warm and stay safe!

Most Common Student Writing Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Written communication skills are so important for students to learn. As a social work instructor for nearly 10 years, I often gave students feedback and guidance to improve their writing. The following list contains the most common writing mistakes I encountered and suggestions for how to fix them. This list is geared toward social science writing and use of APA Style.

Most Common APA Style Errors

Properly Using the Work of Others


Writing Research and Other Scientific Papers

What is missing? What would you add to this list?

For additional back to school tips for social workers, check out my eBook: Back to School Guide for Social Work Students.

Wishing all the new and returning students (myself included!) much success in the coming year!